Saoirse Noonan's celebration following her first goal for Ireland on Tuesday was both a nod to her childhood friend Chiedozie Ogebene and an expression of gratitude to the crowd for turning out on such a wet and windy night.
After stepping off the bench to score Ireland's ninth goal in a record 11-0 win against Georgia, the 22-year-old saluted the crowd, just as Ogbene did last month when he scored against Luxembourg. That was the Rotherham forward's second goal for Ireland, his first came in the victory over Azerbaijan in October.
"Chiedozie Ogbene grew up across the road from us [in Cork]," Noonan tells Balls.
"I spoke to him a lot last week about getting his first goal for Ireland, and that was his celebration [against Luxembourg].
"From the moment Vera [Pauw] called me down from the stands and I was coming on, I was speaking to Emily Whelan on the sideline, and I was like, 'I have fire in my belly'. I just felt really positive and energetic. When I came on, I knew there were going to be chances, and I knew I just had to put one away.
"Then it was kind of just like a salute to the crowd and just respect.
"All the girls were just so thankful for everyone coming out like. When we were in the stand watching the game, everyone was like 'Fair play to all these people supporting us on two absolutely freezing nights'.
"We're just hitting so many records, and so many big things are happening for this team, and we're just so grateful for the support."
Spoke to @saoirse_noonan about scoring her first goal for Ireland, and her brother @SportsfileEoin
about being there to capture it for @Sportsfile.https://t.co/hFbcP9tSep
— PJ Browne (@P_J_Browne) December 2, 2021
Along with making her Ireland debut against Sweden in October and scoring her first goal against Georgia, Noonan also won the Women's National League with Shelbourne last month. Her career has progressed significantly in the last past year as she decided to finish playing ladies football with Cork and concentrate solely on soccer. If she is to develop further, Noonan knows it may involve a move to England.
"The Women's National League is growing," says Noonan.
"It's being shown on TG4, the cup final is on RTÉ. You've such big coverage coming in, but you look at the Women's Super League in England, and that's everyone's goal because it's such a high standard, and it's full-time. I do believe that it will get there in Ireland.
"Players my age, a little bit older, a little bit younger, everyone is looking at [the Women's Super League]. It's in the background, and something I'll definitely keep my eye on but nothing I'm going to jump into. We'll just have to wait and see."
Picture credit: Sportsfile