SAOIRSE Noonan will not be playing with the Cork ladies footballers in 2021 as she concentrates on soccer.
The 21-year-old enhanced her reputation as a dual star in 2020 as she helped Cork City progress to the FAI Cup decider and the Rebels reach the All-Ireland final, although they were beaten in both by Peamount United and Dublin.
But having completed her transfer from City to their Women’s National League rivals Shelbourne last week, the goal-scorer has now decided to turn her attention to just soccer as she looks to break into the Republic of Ireland senior squad.
“My goal is to make the Irish team and I’m driven to achieve that goal,” she told the Echo.
“That’s what’s on my mind. It would have been nice to win an All-Ireland last year with the girls, we just fell short, but this year I’m going to take a year out from football which was a tough decision to make.
“Right now my aim is to pull on that green jersey for Ireland. Nobody knows what’s around the corner I could be back playing both codes soon, I’m still really young.
“Sometimes I think I have already achieved stuff that I wrote down as goals for my whole life and I’m only 21. I don’t really give myself credit for it because I want to achieve more.
“I’ve made the decision now. I’m really excited about the journey I’m going on, playing with Shels and trying to make my way into the Ireland team.
“They know my ambitions, they know my dream, they know I want to take that step with Ireland. I rang Ephie Fitzgerald and told him this is what I want and he said ‘the door is always open if I want to come back if things don’t work out.’
“It’s something I’ve learned in the last 24 months. I used to try to balance my life between everything and give a piece of me to everyone. But now, I’m driven to achieve what I want in my life.”
Noonan will continue to live in Cork during the week and will travel up to Dublin for training with Noel King’s side, remaining in the capital on weekends.
The striker trained with City, where she won the 2017 FAI Cup, for the final time at the beginning of last week before informing her teammates of her decision to leave for a new experience.
“It was a tough speech to make at the end of the session,” she added.
“It was an emotional one because I haven’t known anything different other than Cork City. It was an extremely tough decision.
“I’ve been with City for five or six seasons, and I really enjoyed it but I was really in my comfort zone in Cork, I love everything about it.
“I could be here forever and keep ticking away but I want to try new things, test myself in other areas both on and off the pitch.
“I’ve never lived away from home so all these little things came into my thinking, these opportunities don’t come around every day.
“This was a different opportunity for me to play with a new bunch of girls, to be coached by a new manager so why not try it? I have nothing really to lose.”
Noonan leaves City as their all-time top scorer, just one shy of a landmark 50th goal while she was also closing in on her 100th appearance.
And while those historic achievements are currently on hold, she will soon play her part in a monumental day for the Leesiders as City’s first game at Turner’s Cross this season happens to be against Shelbourne.
“I would definitely say I left on good terms and who knows what the future will hold, I could be back with Cork City sooner or later,” said Noonan.
“But I look forward to seeing them at Turner’s Cross and enjoying a game of football with them, although I will be playing against them.
“It will be a day of history and I feel privileged that I will still be a part of it although I won’t be wearing the green of City I’ll still be wearing the Cork red.”