Former Irish soccer captain’s three decades late parcel caps it all

Noelle Collopy and her father Tony, with her Ireland cap.

THERE are countless special packages delivered by courier every day, but a particularly important one was handed over to a Limerick woman last week – and it was more than three decades late.

Former Under-18 Ireland soccer captain, Noelle Collopy, had her Ireland cap delivered 32 years after she led the team out against Australia at just 15 years of age.

An emotional Noelle told the Limerick Post she was “so happy” to have her hard-earned cap in her hands after all this time.

“Something went wrong. We never found out what it was, but our team didn’t get their Ireland caps,” she said.

“For years, I tried to get it sorted but it just never happened and life moved on. Then my dad, Tony, saw something on the news about women getting their caps after years and he pushed me to try again. Now I have it and I’m just delighted”.

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Noelle, who now lives in Glenbrook, is originally from Moyross and started her soccer career with the Moyross Girls Soccer Club, trained by Michael O’Callaghan.

“Seven girls went up to Dublin for trials and I found out on the eve of the game that I made the team. Then they asked me if I would be captain – I was stunned.

“From not even knowing if I had made it to being captain of the team at just 15. My family and the whole of Moyross were all behind me.”

Noelle was celebrated with a mayoral reception hosted by the late Jim Kemmy.

After those heady days, Noelle continued to play until she was 19. Today, her eldest son Christopher is following in her footsteps and coaching the Galway United senior squad.

Noelle does not think she will reprise her glory days on the field however, cap or no cap.

“My friend Tracey still plays and she asked me if I would come with her to play a friendly match recently. By the end of it I was nearly a case for a defibrillator – I think my time with it is done,” she quipped.

“But I’m so happy to get the cap. My dad is tearing what’s left of his hair out he’s so excited and my sons, Christopher and Adam, will at least know now that I wasn’t just spinning them yarns.”