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Johnny Woods - the busy boy from Beragh

Beragh man Johnny Woods  
Tony McGee

JOHNNY WOODS is certainly a busy boy just now and one wonders just how he remembers which handball tournament he is playing in. He is chasing around from one event to another and trying to keep his interest in three championships alive.

So far, he is doing a good job in his attempts as he is through to the semi-finals in the Tyrone Senior Championship and will play his Breacach Club colleague Conor McElduff, at Beragh, next Thursday. However, before that he will debut in the Ulster Senior series tomorrow when he faces Ricky McCann, at St Paul's in Belfast. Ricky is, of course, a vastly experienced player but his handball has been curbed in recent times because of his work.

After playing Conor McElduff next Thursday, Woods will be back in action three days later on his home court, at Beragh, bidding for a place in the Ulster Intermediate final. His opponent then will be either his Emyvale training friend Darren Doherty or Mark Marley from Donegal.

On top of all the handball dates, Johnny has also to fit in time for football training with the Red Knights: “Yes, we have begun training, again, for the Tyrone Senior League and it can be a bit of a problem finding time to attend the training sessions with handball midweek, as well as, at the weekends,” admits Woods.

“January is a crazy month in handball and it can be difficult to keep it all going but so far so good and long may it continue. I'm enjoying the busy schedule but there is not much time left between work, handball and football.”

Woods is now working as an apprentice electrician in Belfast and travels daily from home so that takes up quite a few hours, as well. He spent a year at UUJ before moving out into the workplace. Following next week's high octane schedule, Woods has his sights set on the national scene both in the Four-Wall and One-Wall codes. His clash with club colleague McElduff next Thursday will let him know how he should fare in the latter competition. Conor is the Irish and Belgium One-Wall champion so, should they clash on the national stage, it could be a tough battle.

“Conor can watch out as I'm after that title of his,” cracks Johnny who is still eligible for 19andUnder competitions but he will be 20 in April and then out of junior ranks.

Also pencilled into his crammed diary is the Irish 40x20 Championship so it looks as if the year ahead is going to be just as busy as January is. However, he has no plans just now to travel across the Atlantic to bid for further glory there. He has had quite considerable success in the US Juniors in the past having won the Doubles titles at 13andUnder and 15andUnder and also collected a singles title. He was disappointed this month when closing out his US Junior career by losing in the 19andUnder singles and doubles (along with Sean Kerr) competitions.

“Because I'm working full-time now it would not be as easy as before to travel to the US for events like the ProStop so I cannot see me going over this year, not for the present anyhow,” explains the 2014 UGAAWA Young Achiever of the Year.

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