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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 6 May 2021

'It's just like go out and have a huge fight, and run until you can't anymore'

In her weekly column, Irish international and Cork football star Saoirse Noonan delves into the differences in GAA and soccer training.

LAST WEEK, I tried to give you a few ideas on how to replicate my pitch training.

I mentioned how there are plenty of differences between Gaelic football and soccer training sessions, but that said, there are many similarities.

Cork v Galway - All Ireland Ladies Football Minor A Championship Final Saoirse Noonan. Source: Eóin Noonan/SPORTSFILE

I focused on the similarities in that column, with sprints, core work and drills with the ball among those in the five exercises to push yourself that I discussed.

This week, we’re going to delve a little deeper into the differences.

In my opinion, the main differences in training anyway are probably intensity, the type of matches we play at the end and the technicality.

I always think that there’s a different feeling or something between Gaelic and soccer. There’s different nerves, they’re both very different environments, there’s just an overall different feeling like.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I genuinely mean this; I couldn’t pick a favourite between the two, I don’t prefer one over the other. I just say I’m unsure. Maybe that will come in time but for now, I love the variety and the differences make things all the more interesting.

So as I was saying, the intensity. When I go to play a GAA match, or even just in training, I’m definitely more riled up. I don’t know what it is, I can’t put my finger on it. It’s kind of a weird thing to say and hard to explain like, but it’s all nearer to home.

There is obviously a huge competitiveness in soccer too but it’s more that you feel proud or something. Maybe it’s that I never expected myself to play for Ireland or to get as far as I have, whereas the goal was always to play Gaelic football for Cork.

Saoirse Noonan and Roma McLaughlin Representing Ireland U17s in 2015. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

I do think that there is more of an intensity in Gaelic though. Maybe it depends on what effort you put in but like I always give 100% in every training session no matter what. I suppose in GAA sessions, you’re not focusing on set plays and tactics whereas in soccer it’s all based on that. That slows things down like.

Pitch sessions with Cork City are quite long too. We meet at 6.30pm, do video analysis for 45 minutes and then onto the pitch. From there, it’s a 15-minute gradual warm up, 10 minutes of running and into drills and set-pieces with the ball.

In Gaelic, it’s straight into a really intense warm up from the off. Straight into intensity with tough sprints involved from the word go. We do loads more drills with the ball and we do more sprints in between.

Towards the end of training in both codes, we play a match — but they’re very different. In GAA, we’d always put the starting fifteen on one team so week in, week out, you more or less know which team you’re going to be on.

Fifteen on fifteen, it’s just like go out and have a huge fight and run until you can’t anymore. In soccer, the starting XI is never really put together in training.

That said, I feel that you can get away with having weaker players in Gaelic. Say in a local match, you can rely on two or three main players and you’re flying. In soccer, you have to have that strong XI, one player can be exposed very easily because it’s so open or something.

Soccer is way more technical. If you’re a tank in GAA and you can run, just get on the pitch and you look like you’re the best player there. If you don’t have brains in soccer I feel like you’re kind of just a loose cannon.

Saoirse Noonan with Chloe Mustaki In action for Cork City. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

And of course then, Gaelic sessions are topped with more sprinting and they’re much longer ones than in soccer.

With the Cork minors last year, John Cleary fairly put us through our paces. I’d literally feel sick at the end of the match, I’d be thinking, ‘Oh God I have to stop running in this game because I have so many long sprints coming up’.

I’m not playing a whole pile of Gaelic at the moment but I’m hoping that once this Leaving Cert is out of the way, I can join up with the Cork senior ladies.

Soccer with City is going well. We had a must win game against Galway last weekend and we got the job done. There’s always improvements to be made though so all eyes are on training and what we can work on ahead of our next game.

And the studying? We’ll get there. The end is in sight!

You can follow Saoirse’s journey over the next 12 weeks right here:

‘I hated playing with the girls at first, but I got used to it’

Get out, get active! 5 outdoor exercises to really push yourself this summer

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