Tyrone’s Woods ready for All Ireland test in Cavan with huge week of Ladies Football action

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The Tyrone Ladies Senior Football team are sixty minutes away from an All Ireland Final date in Croke Park, for the first time since 2010. On that occasion it was an all Ireland senior final showdown with Dublin but, seven years later, it is a bid for a place in a first ever All Ireland Intermediate Championship final that is the target.

Tyrone Ladies GFA continues to show excellent progression in the underage ranks in recent seasons and it is only last month that the Tyrone Minor team won through and lost narrowly in the Minor Grade A All Ireland Championship semi final, to Cork.

  • DID YOU KNOW: Tyrone Ladies contested the Ladies Gaelic All Ireland Senior Football Championship Final in 2010, losing out to Dublin in the final at Croke Park by 3-16 to 0-9. BUT that was the only final since 2004 which didn’t see Cork compete and win the Ladies all Ireland Senior title! Tyrone defeated Cork in the 2010 quarter final, which is Cork’s only defeat in the Ladies All Ireland Senior Football Championship in the past 13 years – the latter winning 11 of the last 12 titles since 2005.

For the senior team, it is Sligo who stand in the way, a side who Tyrone defeated narrowly in the NFL earlier in the campaign and a team who also lost by just a single point at the same stage of the championship twelve months ago.

Tyrone ladies take on Sligo on Saturday in Breffni Park, 3pm, with the prize being a place in the Ladies All Ireland Final in Croke Park.

For team captain, Neamh Woods, it is another stepping stone to what may hopefully be another major milestone in the County’s history in the sport.

“We lost out in the all Ireland quarter final of this championship last year to Clare and we were bitterly disappointed with the result and how we played on the day. This year there was a huge emphasis on, first and foremost, getting the best players out to play for Tyrone which we have done. We have also added to that now with some excellent players coming in from youth level. Earlier this year our Minors had a great run in the championship and after they lost out to Cork narrowly in the all Ireland semi final, have now joined the Senior panel and it has been a great boost overall. When we started out this year and set our target, it was felt that an All Ireland was within our capabilities. We have worked very hard in the pursuit of that goal but if we don’t get past Sligo on Saturday then obviously it’s a big knock back.”

“We met Sligo earlier this year in the league, back in February, and we won by three points. But if you look at the two teams that lined out in that league game compared to the respective championship lineouts a couple of weeks ago, they are considerably different. Sligo’s changes appear to be largely positional but our fifteen has seen quite a bit of change since the league.”

Neamh Woods captained Tyrone to Ulster Intermediate football championship success back in June

“Sligo lost by just a single point at the same stage of the championship last year and would be favourites this time around so we know we are up against it too. They are a big and physical side which defends extremely well in numbers. We saw them as they played Roscommon in the quarter final before us last time out, and they were very strong at the back, conceding very few goal chances and were also extremely quick on the break and counter attacking. Their goalkeeper, Noelle, is an excellent keeper with very accurate kick-outs and she is key to their game plan while Stephanie O’Reilly at centre forward would be a crucial player for them and someone we will want to monitor very closely”

Neamh Woods is one of a number of players within the squad who also have a County Championship final in just over one week’s time with the County Club Championship Finals weekend coming on Saturday 9th September. The Tyrone Senior ladies captain is also bidding for a unique Intermediate double – in both the club and inter-county championship with Drumragh set to face Aghytaran in the final on Saturday week. A great deal happening then on the ladies scene and Woods, who when we spoke was heading to a match in Fintona as manager of the Drumragh Under 16 girls team, has evidently got a hectic schedule on the ladies football front to contend with at present.

“As you can imagine with both the county and club championships still on the cards, things are very busy at the moment. We travel to Cavan on Saturday to face Sligo in the all Ireland Intermediate championship semi final and then our club will look forward to the County final a week later. You are always trying to ensure you are staying fresh for both teams and it can be tough. \the club championships were really run off in a 2-3 week period in the Summer and we got a good run to make it into the County final. We’ll just focus now on the Tyrone match with Sligo on Saturday and then it will be good to prepare and look ahead to a County final with Drumragh.”

Busy times indeed on the Ladies Football scene in Tyrone and this Saturday is undoubtedly a major game for the County with renewed optimism of a date in Croke Park again at the end of September.

“We would be hopeful we can get there and with it being just one step away from Croke Park and all Ireland finals day, that is somewhere every player wants to be so it is a huge game for us.”

By all accounts it seems an extremely tough test is on the cards in Cavan but, with the County Committee rallying the clubs and a large travelling Red Hand fan base making the journey to Breffni Park, it could well be that the O’Neill County could yet be preparing for Croke Park All Ireland Senior Finals Day after all. Here’s hoping…

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