Tuesday 28 March 2017

Donnelly hoping lucky streak can help her cut it at the top

WITH a hectic life both on and off the pitch, Stacie Donnelly had to snip something from her schedule, WRITES JAMIE HOLLAND.

So the trainee hairdresser gave her day job the chop, signed up for a college course and decided to devote her time to club and country.

The Reading and Ireland striker will attend the John Madejski Academy – setup by the Reading FC owner – once shereturnshomefromtheCaribbean withherIrishteam-mates.

There she will study a BTEC in sport, media and retail – a course that will give her much more time to play and train.

“With my commitments to the Irish team, I had to give up the hairdressing, because it was like an actual job and they couldn’t give me all the time off I needed,” said Donnelly.

“I might go back to it again in the future. It was good fun.

“But I don’t mind giving it up to study sport in college.That should be good fun–playing football everyday. I can’t complain really.”

Donnelly has emerged as one of the characters of this Irish team.The idea to run a green streak of dye through her hair was born during her time in the beauty salon trade, although originally she went for bright pink.

“It’s just one of those crazy things hairdressers do. Everyone has different colours all the time,” she said.

The17-year-old made the promise to go green for the World Cup immediately after Ireland’s silver medal performance in the European Championships last June. It’s a tribute to her adopted country.

The London-born teenager, who qualifies for Ireland through her grandmother on her father’s side – who is from Dungarvan in Co Waterford – was discovered shortly after her Reading pal and Ireland goalkeeper Grace Moloney was picked up by the FAI.

“I think the FAI discovered my Irish roots through Reading,” said Donnelly. “Grace was already involved and I got called up for a trial. So I came along – it was January 2009 - and now I’m here.

And I couldn’t be happier.” Raised just a few miles from Heathrow Airport, Donnelly was born into a football-mad family.

Her brother Scott, five years Stacie’s senior, completed a move during the summer from LeagueTwo side Aldershot to Championship outfit Swansea.

And it was watching Scott kick about with his pals that helped to stir Stacie’s interest in the game. “I used to watch his games and I found a love of it there,” said the Ireland striker.“I enjoyed football – watching it and playing. I used to play it all the time.

“He’s a central midfielder and I’m a striker and we grew up playing football together. It was football all the time really.

“I just used to always be playing football all day everyday, from morning to evening. When ever I could I would. It used to drive my mum mad.

“There were no other girls around the area who were into playing football so I used to play for a boy’s team in London called Heathrow Youth Club.”

From there Donnelly moved onto Reading, and then on to the international stage with Ireland. And with a World Cup goal to her name already – she netted the second in Monday’s 3-0 win over Ghana – Donnelly wants to go home from Trinidad and Tobago with a medal.

“We’ll definitely give it our best against Japan and hopefully we’ll get through,” she said. “We’ve gotten this far so hopefully we can keep on going.”

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