“He’s ready to go” – Stephen Bradley praises Shamrock Rovers midfielder Conan Noonan

Luke Jordan reporting from Tallaght Stadium. 

The 21-year-old starred as Shamrock Rovers defeated St. Patrick’s Athletic in the President’s Cup on Friday night. 

Stephen Bradley praised the performance of Conan Noonan after the midfielder shined in Shamrock Rovers victory against St. Patrick’s Athletic in the President’s Cup. 

The midfielder was pivotal for the Hoops, as he assisted two of the three goals last night, the first in particular displayed the talented midfielder’s vision as he picked out the run of Trevor Clarke with an excellent pass for the opener.

Bradley when asked about the performance of Noonan spoke of the natural ability the Rovers player has. 

“Conan is one I've been talking about for quite some time now. Some issues have held him back but from the back end of last season until now he has been good, in terms of training all of the time. 

“He is probably the most naturally gifted player, both footed, that you will see. I don't know if you noticed but he was taking the corners with his right and his left. That's him. He's ready to play.

“It's not about age, profile, experience, if you're ready, you're ready, and Conan is ready. If I was one of the midfielders I'd be looking over my shoulder because he's ready to go”. 

When asked does Noonan remind him of any player he has played with, one name came to mind for the Rovers manager. 

“If I go back it’s David Bentley. I remember playing with Bents and he could do silly things with both feet and just so natural. Sometimes when you’re right footed and you go with your left, you have to really set yourself and tuck your arm in and be ready, when you see it naturally it’s just so free”.

Bradley admitted Noonan had offers to play elsewhere on loan this season, but the player wanted to fight for his place in Dublin 24. 

“He had a lot of options in the Premier Division to go on loan. I sat down with him and his Dad and he was pretty clear that he feels he's ready to play and that he wants to show that. That's great for me to hear that. He's ready to go”.

It’s been a long road for Noonan. The 21-year-old has had to deal with physical and mental challenges after contracting Covid in 2022 which then led to heart problems, the midfielder had to take time out away from the sport. 

However, after a handful appearances last season for the Hoops, last night seemed a breakthrough moment for the player. When asked was he someone that could have been lost to the game, Bradley spoke candidly. 

“Yeah of course definitely. That’s a real reality of young players in football, we see it time and time again. Really talented players, really high level of ability fall out of love with the game for different reasons. 

“Conan is mentally really strong and resilient, he’s had to show that time and time again in the last two years, because there are times in training you just stand back and applaud some of the stuff he can do, really, it’s just trying to get him to the point where he can do it there. And there is so much that goes into that mix. 

“He’s playing with that smile on his face, he’s playing with that freedom, there is nothing better as a coach and manager when you look at a player and see them playing like they’re playing in the school playground with their friends, with that freedom. And that’s what he looked like tonight’.

After the match, Bradley also admitted Shamrock Rovers made a 'mistake' with last season’s preparations.