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'It's kind of odd getting a Chinese goalkeeper in Donegal': GMIT's All-Ireland star

Donegal’s Rosa Kelly helped her side to Lagan Cup glory at the O’Connor Cup weekend.

FROM CHINA TO Ballyhaunis via Ardara.

Rosa Kelly 'I couldn't get enough of Gaelic football.' Source: Jerome Quinn Media for the Ladies HEC

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) won the Lagan Cup last Saturday at the ladies third-level O’Connor Cup weekend, and Rosa Kelly helped her side to All-Ireland glory between the posts.

Originally from Chongqing in China, Kelly was adopted when she was eight months-old and she now lives in Ardara in Co. Donegal.

The first year Sport and Exercise Science student couldn’t be happier in the Hills.

“It’s [Ardara] a wee village but it’s full of festivals and sound people,” she told Jerome Quinn after the match. “So it’s nice to play football in a place where you can enjoy football with good people.

“It’s a real heritage town, there’s a lot of culture and stuff involved. There’s a lot of farming, of course we’re all culchies up there.”

“There’s a fair few amount in China. I don’t know because I haven’t been back, but I’d say there is quite a difference.”

“I have friends that were born and raised in Donegal and I have a stronger accent than them. Everyone kind of laughs. Whenever I play Ulster teams, they’d be like ‘hmm’.

It’s kind of odd getting a Chinese goalkeeper in Donegal now.

“But there’s more Chinese and different nationalities in Donegal now from adoption or people immigrating. It’s better to see more of a diversity anyway.

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Kelly started playing gaelic football at a young age, but then she quit and picked up soccer. It wasn’t long before she was back though.

“I don’t know why I quit, I just didn’t like training in the rain when I was younger — and then I played soccer with school.

“I played a blitz and school for gaelic and they were like ‘oh, you’ve a decent kick, why don’t you come to training?’ So I went to training and I really liked it.

So I stopped soccer, picked up the gaelic and that was when I was 11. I probably did start it a bit late, but I love it ever since. I couldn’t get enough of gaelic football.”

Kelly’s GMIT side hosted the weekend tournament, and beat Cavan Institute in the semi-final on home turf before seeing University of Ulster Coleraine (UUC) off by 4-11 to 0-8 in the final.

She finds football to be a much-needed release from education, and it’s evidently something she really enjoys too.

“It’s kept my head in the studies. It’s a good break from the study, it keeps me going, it keeps me motivated. It’s good to keep active — mental health, even your own fitness and well-being — it just helps you so much.”

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Emma Duffy

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