Antrim captain Aoibheann Donnelly is trying to divide her time

Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor shield final

Sunday 2.30pm in UPMC Nolan Park: Antrim v Limerick

ANTRIM’S rising camogie star Aoibheann Donnelly is desperately trying to divide her time between A-Levels in Cross and Passion Ballycastle and a hectic camogie schedule that sees her miss out on the Armagh City Hotel Ulster Intermediate final in preference to captaining Antrim minors in the Electric Ireland All-Ireland final against Limerick in UPMC Nolan Park.

“Cara (O’Boyle) and I have been juggling training and playing with both the Intermedaite and minor teams all spring,” explains the McQuillan’s defender.

“The Intermediate team had games on Saturday and then the minors would play on Sunday. Most of the time it worked out that we would be available for both.

“I know that you train to get a starting jersey in any team. I have had to be content at the minute with coming on as a sub with the Intermediates, but then we are only getting to one of the two training sessions. I have to be realistic.

“Both management teams are very accommodating and doing their best for us, but the worst thing has been the travel – especially for the minor games.”

Three of the five group games in minor have been in the NGDC complex in Abbottstown, while the semi-final a fortnight ago was in Kinnegad in Westmeath. The final is scheduled for UPMC Nolan Park.

“We thought the final would be much more half-way, but that is the way it goes. I haven’t played in Nolan Park – don’t think any of us have – but everyone tells us it is a great venue.

“But it is a four hour journey on a bus and that wrecks you. You are leaving early in the morning and back late in the evening and it is tiring for the next day as well. Then you have the A Level work.

“You have to be very organised. I would try to get work and study done as much as possible on Friday or Saturday. I used to have a job in the coffee shop in the Marine (Hotel in Ballycastle), but I had to give that up. I just hadn’t the time.”

The Antrim team who beat Meath in Armoy to qualify for Sunday’s final against Limerick.

Donnelly is taking three subjects for A-Level, Travel and Tourism, CTEC Business and Food & Nutrition, and hoping to take a university course in International Tourism and Leisure in either Dublin or Liverpool if she makes the grades at the end of the summer.

Earlier in the spring she captained the county minors to the Ulster title against Derry.

“We got a very tight game that day and only won by a goal. Derry were a good side and we were surprised that they didn’t do well in the All-Ireland B competition.

“The week after that Ulster final we started the All-Ireland with a game against Clare and lost by five points. That was a low point because we knew there was a lot more in us.

“We then won all the other group games and the semi-final. So, we have improved a lot and there is a real hunger in the squad that drives us on.

“We weren’t good in that Clare game. We just didn’t gel right, especially in the forward line. But since then we are much improved and playing with a lot more confidence.”

Exactly four weeks ago Antrim met Limerick in Abbottstown and came away with a 3-8 to 0-10 victory. A repeat result would be good on Sunday.

“It sure would,” agrees Donnelly. “But Clare were unbeaten when they met Limerick in the semi-final and Limerick won by 1-8 to 1-6. It has been a good competition with four or five of the teams evenly matched. I am just hoping we keep our unbeaten run going.”

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