When going gets tough Tyrone can rely on Neamh Woods to lead by example
SHE'LL lead Tyrone out for their TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship final against Meath on Sunday and will hope to lift the Mary Quinn Cup but captain Neamh Woods insists she is just one of many leaders on the squad.
Woods, who is one of the Tyrone greats, having made her county debut back in 2006, has captained Tyrone to three Ulster intermediate championship titles these past three years and is one of two players - the other being Gemma Begley - in Gerry Moane's squad who is a senior provincial championship winner.
She is a natural choice for captain and when the going got tough in the final minutes of the semi-final against Sligo her leadership skills came to the fore, choosing the smart option to fist the ball over the bar to put her side back in the lead after Sligo had got back on level terms from a six point deficit in the closing stages.
"Captaincy is a great honour, it's a fantastic honour but I don't see it as any additional pressure or added responsibility," said Woods. "For me it is someone who goes and takes the toss and gets to lift silverware at first hand if we are fortunate but everybody in our team are leaders. We really are in that sense and I know that is probably very cliche but that is the reality of it and everybody chips in and everybody does their bit and we all look to each other for a bit of inspiration in a game and it doesn't phase me in that sense but just adds to the excitement in the build up to it all."
Woods is hoping too that the fact they have been there, although not quite done it, last year will enable the players to fully concentrate on the match itself and put their vast surroundings to one side.
"The build-up to it is always very exciting but at the same time having been there last year and went through the process the girls now know what it is like to play in an All-Ireland final. They know what it is like to be in Croke Park and we are very much looking forward to this year's game but this time around we really are focussing on our performance and the performance we want and it's an All-Ireland intermediate title that we want.
Victory on Sunday would bring the curtain down on a memorable year for Woods, who earlier in the year was part of the Northern Ireland netball squad who played in the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast.
"It has been an amazing year, probably quite surreal really but a busy year and a very exciting one and by all means it would be a fantastic way to finish with silverware. I suppose when we reflect back to last year's final we regrouped quite soon after again and that was when we met and started to our gym work again and everybody was very focussed which is a good sign in a squad that everybody was willing to go back at it again with the same effort and more and please God that we get the result that we want this time."