Susanne White stepping up for a young Donegal squad

The Tír Chonaill side begin their All-Ireland campaign at home to Kerry on Sunday

Susanne White
Susanne White is now a senior member of a very young of Donegal squad. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile (Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

SUSANNE White is one of a few players who have been on the Donegal squad for the last few years, learning her trade from the likes of now-former stars Geraldine McLaughlin, Karen Guthrie, Yvonne Bonner and Niamh Hegarty.

Over the last season or two, those household names - known the length and breadth of the country in ladies’ footballing circles - have departed after giving years of service to the Tír Chonaill jersey.

That has paved the way for White and the likes of Amy Boyle Carr, Tara Hegarty, Shannon McLaughlin, Katie Long and Roisin Rodgers to step up and help bring on the next crop of young players in the county, players such as Abigail Temple Osoko and Katie Dowds.

White has certainly taken on a more prominent role in the team, not just as one of main scorers for John McNulty’s side – she scored eight points in their extra-time Ulster final defeat to Armagh - but also as one of the team’s leaders.

“There is a group of girls there around 22, 23, 24 who have been on the panel the last four or five years, but this year they have had to take on a wee bit more responsibility and have had to step up,” said the Killybegs player, who joined the Donegal senior team in 2020 with Maxi Curran at the helm.

“But when you have played with girls like Geraldine McLaughlin, Karen Guthrie and Niamh Hegarty, who you have learned so much from, it’s your turn now. They have passed on the baton to us and it’s time to step up.”

They have big boots to fill and White, with her psychology background, believes it’s important not to let the pressure get to you. She constantly reminds herself of that.

“I think the one thing is not putting too much pressure on yourself. I forget that I am only 23 and I’ve plenty of games and years ahead playing for Donegal.

“Not to put that much pressure on but a big aim for us this year was integrating a lot of those young girls into the panel and setting high standards and a culture that we want to build upon each year and get stronger and stronger.

“A lot of girls have stepped up this year and it’s great to see. It’s great to see younger girls wanting to come up and put their hand up to play for Donegal because it is not an easy step up.

“It can be quite daunting but we can’t fault anybody’s effort and the commitment that they have given so far. We only have three girls over the age of 25 in our starting team at the moment.

“It’s promising and it’s an exciting time for us if we stick together. What’s to come down the line you never know but the way we are showing at the minute is promising and it’s about keeping building on that now.”

After the Ulster final defeat to Armagh, attention turned to the All-Ireland competition, which begins this weekend with a home clash against Kerry.

Donegal players were naturally disappointed with the result of the Ulster final, 0-17 to 1-13, Armagh winning back the senior title that had been wrestled from them the year before. White says they took a lot of positives from the performance and hope to carry it into the All-Ireland.

“Initially we were quite disappointed to lose to Armagh in extra-time. I think it’s fair to say it could have went either way and it was an entertaining game, particularly the second half, but when you look back on our performance and how far we have come from our performances in the league I think it’s massive and we couldn’t feel anything but pride, especially when you see so many young girls on the team.

“We have taken a lot of confidence from that game and belief in ourselves and our plan that we can go toe-to-toe with these big teams.

“That is how we will be thinking this weekend, take it as it goes, play half by half and if we have to alter things accordingly we will.

“We expect a big battle with them but at the end of the day that is where you want to be and that is who you want to be playing, the best teams at the highest level possible.

So, in that sense, we are in a great position. This is where we want to be, it is great to have a game at home in MacCumhaill Park and I think that is a huge boost to us and we look forward to the challenge.”



GROUP 1 Armagh v Meath (the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, 2pm, live on Sport TG4)


GROUP 2 Donegal v Kerry (Páirc Seán Mac Cumhaill, 1.05pm, live on TG4)

GROUP 3 Laois v Cork (Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 2pm, live on Sport TG4)

GROUP 4 Dublin v Mayo (Parnell Park, 2.50pm, live on TG4)