“I think I spend 95 per cent of training looking at the bottom of their boots”

ANTRIM star Niamh  Ann Donnelly looks at some of those she played with.

Name: Niamh Ann Donnelly.

Teams played for: Antrim and Ballycastle.

Which teammate has been the most inspirational and why? I’ve been lucky enough to play with many inspirational people over the years, but I can’t look past my namesake, Niamh Donnelly for this one. No matter what team I’ve played with Niamh on, whether it be school, university, club or county she gives absolutely everything to it.

She is so dedicated and committed, you’ll be hard pushed to find someone who gives more to the sport than Niamh.

She recently got married and to make sure there would be no clashes with games for her or her guests, she opted for a winter wedding and organised it for New Year’s 2021.

Niamh is 100 per cent a player that younger people should be looking up to and aspire to be like and I’m so delighted she got the recognition she deserved with an All-Ireland medal and All-Star Award recently, even if she does make me use my middle name to tell the difference between us.

Who’s the best team mate to train with and why? I would say both Maeve Kelly and Lucia McNaughton fall into this category. At county with Lucia and at both club and county with Maeve, both players train like they play. They will give 100 per cent to every session and it really pushes on the rest of the team. They have the right to expect full effort from every one of their teammates because that is what they are giving. I have always found both players get the best out of all the girls around them at both training and matches.

Which teammate is the worst to train with and why? I’m going to say Roisin McCormick for this one purely because she is one of the main jokers on the county team. If you’re marking Roisin at training keep your wits about you because one minute, you’re having a laugh with her and the next she has slipped away from you and pinging balls over the bar from all angles.

Which teammate do you want to mark in training and why? I actually really enjoy marking the younger, newer girls especially in training matches, although they are usually flying fit and super speedy. I always try to be encouraging and welcome the younger girls into the senior set up as I remember myself, it can be daunting when you’re 16 or 17 years of age.

In training games as a corner-back, I like to encourage the younger forwards that I am marking and pretty much tell them what I hate and find most difficult to defend. At the end of the day I think one of the most important things a teammate can do is be encouraging and try to improve every player on the team, especially when they are at the beginning of their senior career.

Which teammate do you dread marking in training and why? It’s a tough call between Caoimhe Wright and Nuala Devlin, both absolute speed machines. I think I spend 95 per cent of the training session looking at the bottom of their boots and just chasing them up and down the pitch. They are both lethal players and I’m just delighted to play alongside them at club and county because marking them in training is enough of a headache, I wouldn’t want to do it for real in a game.

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