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Dual in Cork City's crown doesn't mind being a Rebel without a pause

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Saoirse Noonan. Photo: Sportsfile

Saoirse Noonan. Photo: Sportsfile

Saoirse Noonan. Photo: Sportsfile

Cork sport has historically prided itself on their duals in the crown.

From Teddy to Setanta, Dave Barry to Dinny Allen, the Rebels have defied sporting convention; even the great Noel Cantwell played cricket for Ireland aside from his stellar soccer career.

Their women, too; spearheaded by that inestimable duo Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery, multi-medalled ambassadors of prowess at the highest level of their twin passions.

Their efforts are not always supported; this unusual year highlighted the usual obstacles placed in the path of those women who choose not to define themselves by one code alone.

The current Cork City side who will line out against Peamount in Tallaght today possess their own trailblazer.

Saoirse Noonan will set aside, for one week at least, the dream of toppling the formidable Dublin ladies in next week's All-Ireland football final as she guns for league champions Peamount in the Cup final.

"It's quite a quick turnaround but I can't complain," she says. "I'm loving every minute of it."

While the dual players are largely extinct in male sport, their female equivalents still thrive, albeit it often feels that rather than being facilitated, they are discriminated against.

A threatened boycott from five Cork camogie and football players due to avoidable fixture clashes highlighted the issue.

Noonan's dual status hasn't harmed her progress on either front; last month, after scoring a brace to secure City's Cup final place and then a decisive goal against Kerry in the Championship, Vera Pauw drafted her into the Irish squad for the first time.

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Although she didn't survive the final cut, Pauw stressed she had been alerted to her potential before her weekend heroics in both codes and hoped that, as with all emerging players, she would get a chance to train with male players to maintain her development.

Also encouraging was Pauw's assurance that Noonan doesn't need to discard one of her chosen sports.

"To be fair, Vera has been very good. She gave me a phone call and went through what I need to work on.

"She didn't say anything about me having to choose. Of course, if your ambition is to be a starter in an international team then you have to make the decisions yourself."

Like many, she has one eye on a professional career abroad but for now there is quite enough to keep her occupied.

"Right now, I have an All-Ireland final in both codes so there definitely won't be one made in the next few weeks, but who knows?

"I am lucky enough to be still here and involved in both teams at the highest level. You don't know what is around the corner. It's been a crazy year all round so we'll see what next year has in store when it comes."


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