Rosa Kelly might be Chinese born, but she considers herself very much to be from Ardara.
A goalkeeper of some renown now, Kelly was in goal last weekend as GMIT defeated Ulster University Coleraine in the Lagan Cup final.
By her own admission, it’s ‘strange to see a Gaelic team with a Chinese goalkeeper’, but then again she speaks with strong, unmistakable south Donegal brogue.
Born in Chongqing in China, she was adopted, when she was only eight months old, by David and Moira Kelly from Ardara.
“I don’t even think of myself as being adopted; I just think of myself as being from Ardara and from Donegal,” she told Donegal Woman.
“It’s so good, I couldn’t imagine being any different.
“Gaelic is massive in Ardara. Really, if you don’t play GAA in Ardara, you’d be considered weird.
“It’s a really nice football community in Ardara. When the club games are on, the whole parish comes out to support. It’s so nice going as one community.”
A first year student in Sports and Exercise Science at GMIT, she helped her college to Lagan Cup glory last weekend.
After coming through a blitz earlier in the week, they defeated Cavan IT 2-13 to 2-10 in the semi-final before steamrolling UUC 5-13 to 0-3 in the final. And that was a UUC side that dismantled St Pat’s of Thurles 5-11 to 1-5 in their semi.
“We were so happy with the outcome because it was so tough,” she says.
“We came out the right side of it, thankfully. We went to watch their semi-final and we expected it to be so tough. They had a lot of really tall players and we’re kind of small.
“But watching them gave us an idea of what we had to do and we managed to beat them.”
She knows her history and speaks of the likes of Anthony Molloy, Eamon Doherty, Damien Diver and Paddy McGrath – heroes, all, in Ardara.
She says: “I remember when I was younger, going to watch Damien play for Ardara and Eamon, too.
“I started off playing for Ardara when I was young and then I stopped, but I got back into it when I was 11 again – I’m so happy I did, even though it’s not so easy being a woman Gaelic player because we don’t have as much games or coverage and we have to pay more money to play.”
Although born in China, Rosa has no desire to return there and is quite content to remain in Donegal.
“I don’t know why, but I don’t want to go back to China – that doesn’t really appeal to me at all,” she says.
“I definitely consider myself from Ardara. I didn’t have much of a transition, I suppose, since I moved here when I was just eight months old.
“It’s something you don’t see every day – a Chinese goalkeeper. People probably think it’s weird seeing people from different countries playing Gaelic, but there are a lot more playing now and starting to play in schools.”