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Katie is battling on many fronts


Doubling up: Katie Mullan believes there are many  similarities between hockey and camogie

Doubling up: Katie Mullan believes there are many similarities between hockey and camogie

Doubling up: Katie Mullan believes there are many similarities between hockey and camogie

Katie Mullan is looking forward to putting her feet up this week... and no wonder after a gruelling schedule that saw her play six matches for four different teams in two sports in the space of just eight days.

The Ireland senior international was a member of the Ulster Under-21 squad which retained the inter-provincial title at Grange Road in Dublin on Sunday.

But in addition to playing in all three of Ulster's matches and scoring three goals in the process, the former Ballymoney striker had other things on her mind than hockey in the build-up to the inter-pros.

The 20-year-old UCD student is also a camogie sharpshooter and was a member of the Coleraine-based Eoghan Rua side that won the All-Ireland intermediate trophy in 2011.

The Sunday before the inter-pros she played in the All-Ireland senior semi-final at Ashbourne when Eoghan Rua went down narrowly to Cork side Milford.

Just 24 hours earlier, she had helped the UCD hockey team book their place in the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Old Alex.

But there was no time to celebrate as she dashed across the city to link up with her Eoghan Rua team-mates who were staying in the city overnight to prepare for the game.

Then last Wednesday she lined out for the UCD camogie team in an inter-varsities championship game with NUIG before linking up with the Ulster U21 hockey squad on Friday.

Katie (pictured) has represented her county at camogie at under age level from U14 to U18 and was recently called up to the Derry senior panel.

She still manages to combine both sports along with a busy academic schedule as a full-time Biomedical Engineering student.

But Katie isn't the first player to swap between the two codes as others like former Irish internationals Caitriona Carey and Fiona Connery have done so in the past.

But both those women found it impossible to combine the two sports and it was camogie that had to give way due to the level of commitment required to play international hockey.

Katie enjoys both sports and feels there are more similarities than differences although she occasionally gets on the wrong side of officialdom through sheer over enthusiasm.

"The need for hand-eye co-ordination is a big thing that the two sports have in common and being able to lift the ball over opponents' sticks is also useful in both," she explained.

"There are differences, of course, and camogie is more of a contact sport and there are times that I have been penalised for over physical challenges or shoulder charges in hockey.

"But I certainly think that it would be good to see more of a cross-over between the two sports and I would encourage camogie players to try out hockey and vice-versa.

"The seasons generally don't overlap too much as camogie is played more in the summer than the winter unless you have success at club level.

"But the club has been very understanding and supportive and they accept that my hockey is the priority.

"Because I am based in Dublin I usually trained with the UCD camogie team in the build-up to this year's Championship campaign and along with hockey it's a six day week usually for sport although I usually have Fridays off."

Ironically it was another hockey commitment which prevented her from playing in last year's U21 inter-pros, so Katie was looking forward even more to last weekend's tournament.

"Ireland were playing in the World Hockey League in Valencia in February so I wasn't able to play for Ulster, so it was great to be available this year," she added.

"We had quite a few players who are based outside Ireland, so obviously we hadn't been able to train as a complete group as much as we would have liked and that was a bit of a concern for us.

"But by the time we played Leinster on Sunday we had gelled together for what, as we had expected, turned out to be the deciding game of the tournament."

Belfast Telegraph