SHELBOURNE women’s manager, Noel King, says Saoirse Noonan will find it difficult facing her former club, Cork City, for the first time, on Saturday afternoon, and has called on his players to help her through it.
Noonan swapped City for Shelbourne in February, ending six years with the Rebel Army, while she also put her Cork ladies’ football career on hold for 2021, to concentrate on playing for the Dublin club.
“It will be a big moment for her. I don’t know how she will find it, to be honest,” King told The Echo.
“I know she was a great servant to Cork, in both the Gaelic and the soccer, over the years: She has done particularly well. So, I’d say it will be very difficult for her.
“We just hope we can help her through, and that everyone enjoys watching her, because she is a talent, that’s for sure,” King said.
We can see the potential, we can see the talent. Can she do better? I think she can.
“There is definitely more to come from her: She seems very focused, she seems a very professional athlete, and I would only have positive things to say about her.
“Hopefully, it works out for her on Saturday. It’s a difficult time for her, but her teammates will support her. It’s a team game for us; we will all combine together and be one.”
The 21-year old striker cited regularly breaking into the Republic of Ireland senior squad as one of the reasons behind her decision to move to Shels.
And King, who spent almost a decade in charge of the Irish women’s national team, from 2000 to 2010, says the striker has the potential to achieve that target.
“To play for your country is a great honour,” King said.
“I know she has been involved in it before and she wants to be part of it on a regular basis. She knows what’s ahead, she knows what she needs to do to achieve that.
“From my perspective, I do believe she has the potential to do that, as do a number of girls that you will see on Saturday.
“The game is developing, it’s getting stronger, players are getting better and, with that, they are all rising together.”
The 64-year-old took charge of his first match as Shelbourne manager last weekend, as they opened their Women’s National League campaign with a 2-0 win away to Athlone Town.
It was also the Dubliner’s first match in charge of any team since leaving his role as the Republic of Ireland men’s U21 manager, in 2018.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying being back and it is all the better when you get the win,” King said.
“It was great being back in during the week for training a lot of days and it is something I haven’t done for many, many years, since I was involved with the U21s, and girls’ football.
“In the first game of the season, the key thing is to get three points, but I thought we performed very, very well in extremely difficult weather conditions, down in Athlone.
“There were a lot of good performances around the park, as well, so it was a good start and that is all we could ask for, but it doesn’t make it any easier now, coming to face Cork City. That will also be a very difficult game.”
Having narrowly missed out on the title last season, to Peamount United, King has been brought in to land the title this term.
But he is taking it one game at a time, with his focus on Cork City this Saturday afternoon, in a significant fixture at Turner’s Cross.
“I would be of the old-fashioned variety just to say you take each game as it comes,” said King.
“We won last Saturday and the most important thing now is the Cork City game.
“It will be tough: We have been going through their videos, they were probably doing very well to get the draw (against Galway), so it won’t be easy.
“Any game I have ever played in Cork hasn’t been easy anyway, that’s for sure!
It’s not in the psyche of the Cork player to let a Dublin team go out there and win easily.
“We will just go and prepare as best as we can and you just don’t know what can happen in football, that’s why we love it so much.
“In Cork, they are good footballers, they have dangers around the park, and they will be happy playing there: Good footballers like to play in good conditions.”