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It is mid-term for the H Dip student but Kate McDonald’s week has actually been bedlam.
It started as a winner of the Ashbourne Shield with UCD on Sunday. She would have preferred to be vying for the Cup but once in a final, it was better to win it than lose it, so mission was accomplished.
Tuesday started with her getting a puncture on the road up to Dublin for the launch of the Irish Daily Star League at Croke Park, her first official function as Kilkenny captain.
After making it down later in the evening, she had her first training back with the county panel, having been allowed to concentrate on UCD by the new Kilkenny manager, Fintan Deegan.
Wednesday brought about another return to Dublin, to have a meeting about her course work. After that, there’s the pesky interview. After the previous day’s photos, the 23-year-old is getting an idea of the demands of captaincy that have nothing to do with playing the game.
“I won’t be changing anything about what I do though” she insists.
She’s feeling sore “everywhere” after Tuesday night’s exertions. All the work with UCD was on all-weather, so on the first night out on grass, she was “like a cow after being let out of the slats, you don’t know how to get around the field!”
She is raring to go now though.
Last year was a strange one, in that by winning the Division 1 title, Kilkenny were claiming silverware for the first time since being victorious in the same competition in 2008. But they lost a second successive All-Ireland.
“We just have to forget about it and learn from it. I know we said that the year before but hopefully we will learn from it this year and make the changes.”
Deegan is a Laois native who has been based in Kilkenny for almost 10 years. Niall Williams and Graham Dillon stood down after bringing the Noresiders forward in a very significant way. As someone who has worked with figures of the stature of Ann Downey, McDonald knows how good the duo were.
“The two boys that were with us the last two years were brilliant. Just sometimes things don’t go write for you on the day. It’s hard to put your finger on it and say what the cause was but hopefully we can take it up again this year and give it a good rattle anyway.
“Just because we got to finals and people say ‘Ah sure you’ll surely win it this time’ but there’s no surely, or a God-given right. You’re not necessarily going to get over the line. There’s new girls, girls or gone.
“So it’s a long road now to be even thinking about Croke Park in September. The hard work is to get there.
“But with new management, new players, we’ll look to the league to get the team to gel, build a good team spirit and get things going again. Newness means freshness and that isn’t a bad thing.”
The captaincy is a tremendous honour – “I probably haven’t stopped smiling about it yet” – and a reflection of her experience, despite the youth. She was called into the panel first as a 15-year-old, something that would no longer be allowed under current rules.
The Thomastown full-back’s medal cabinet includes All-Ireland minor and U16 medals and the two league mementoes. She wouldn’t mind making that three but there is one she treasures more than any other.
“We are league champions. It’s not like we don’t take it seriously. It’s there and nice to win. Obviously everybody wants to win the championship more than anything. It’s a hard balance to peak at the right time but you want to win all your games if you can, while learning and improving and building confidence.
“We want to retain our title and take it from there.”

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