Echo Women in Sport awards: Saoirse Noonan achieves her goals

Barbara O'Connell talks to the Ireland and Shelbourne striker about a memorable conclusion to 2021
Echo Women in Sport awards: Saoirse Noonan achieves her goals

Saoirse Noonan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring her first senior international goal against Georgia at Tallaght Stadium. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

IN LIFE, many of us set out short and long term goals. The aim is to hopefully one day achieve them all.

In sport, my goal each season would be to win the league and as a midfielder, to have as many player-of-the-match performances as possible while scoring goals for the team.

Those short term goals have been achieved most years thankfully but the long term goals are always in progress.

When you get to achieve one of those, there is a great sense of fulfilment. It’s normally after years of hard work, dedication and commitment.

For a striker, an obvious target is to finish the season as the team's top goalscorer.

Recently, I caught up with Shelbourne striker Saoirse Noonan and she tells us about her joy of achieving three long term goals in just one season. A remarkable achievement and one which has made her one of the Echo Women in Sport quarterly winners for winter 2021.

“To achieve three of my long term goals in just one season was just unbelievable for me,” said Noonan.

“I always set out goals every year long and short term and after achieving three of my long term goals of setting up my own company, making my Irish senior debut and scoring my first goal, it has given me the drive to want more and more.

“I’m more ready than ever to go after all my dreams and make them a reality.”

COMFORT ZONE

Noonan left Cork City at the beginning of the season as she felt she needed to challenge herself and with a dream of making an Irish squad. She felt playing in a more challenging team is what she needed.

Her move was justified when Shels pipped Peamount in the last game of the season in the most dramatic of finishes. A moment she won’t forget for a long time and a decision she was delighted to have made.

“It’s not always easy to leave a team but going to Shels was something I felt I had to do.

“Being in Cork and having the GAA on my front door when I loved it so much was difficult. I needed change and to come out of my comfort zone. I left City because I wanted to go after my dream of playing for Ireland.

“With Shels coming so close the last three years I really wanted to help out and try to win it.

“So, for me, everything that has happened with winning the league, playing in the cup final and getting on the Irish squad makes this decision feel worthwhile and one I stand by and I’m proud I did because it wasn’t easy.

“My move has definitely been justified and I hope this is just the start.”

Cork City's Ciara McNamara in action against Saoirse Noonan of Shelbourne at Turner's Cross. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cork City's Ciara McNamara in action against Saoirse Noonan of Shelbourne at Turner's Cross. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Focusing solely on herself and personal goals at the start of last year, the 22-year-old from Grange has made massive strides both on and off the pitch.

“If I’m honest it’s been a whirlwind of a season. I started the year in a lockdown and focused solely on myself and personal goals and I couldn’t be happier with how the year went on and off the field for me.

“For me, now, it’s all about pushing on and developing in all those areas I worked so hard at this year with football and my new business, Freedom Clothing.”

Noonan made her senior international debut as the Republic of Ireland opened their 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying campaign with a spirited performance but ultimately a narrow 1-0 defeat to Sweden at Tallaght Stadium back in October.

Although she only played a couple of minutes it was a huge moment for her and her family.

This was followed by another huge milestone. Scoring her first goal for her country at senior level when she came onto score her side’s ninth goal in that historic 11 nil win over Georgia. Here she tells us about those memorable moments.

“Coming on for my first cap was so overwhelming, hearing the cheers, seeing my family all smiling and being there was amazing.

“My mom broke her foot only a couple of days before my debut and I was kind of saying don’t bother travelling but they all came up and my sister said she felt I was going to play so it was amazing.

“And then scoring my goal on a historic night and only my second cap.

I felt I would score if I got on. I had fire in my belly and was raring to go. 

"Myself and teammate Emily Whelan were warming up and we both said there are goals here and felt energised and excited.

“So I was grateful I got the opportunity.”

Shelbourne's Saoirse Noonan and Lauren Dwyer of the Wexford Youths. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Shelbourne's Saoirse Noonan and Lauren Dwyer of the Wexford Youths. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

After an amazing year, finishing it off with an individual award made it all the more special for Noonan.

“Women’s sport is getting so much more recognition now and being recognised amongst world-class athletes I sometimes think I shouldn’t be here because I look up to all of them too.

“It’s an honour for me to receive this Echo award and I always have to thank my family because they are the ones who keep me on my toes and push me to get to where I want to be.

“It also shows other young girls anything is possible and I was that little girl before too, who is now living her dream so anything is possible if you just keep believing and working hard.”

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