Woods happy to keep home fires burning again for Dubs
LOSING players who go travelling in the summer is a perennial problem for inter-county teams, but Dublin’s Siobhan Woods says she it was a decision she didn’t take lightly last year.
She was among a handful of prominent young Dubs to take the J1 option in 2015.
“Myself, Leah (Caffrey), Martha (Byrne) and Dee all went to America,” she explains. “Myself and Leah shared in San Diego, Dee was also in San Diego with friends from school and Martha was was in Chicago.
“It was a hugely tough decision, we agonised over it,” Woods admits. “But I’ll turn 22 this September, my sister was going as well and a lot of my friends.
“My parents always encouraged me to take a summer out but I never knew when I would go. I was always thinking I’d put it off because football’s such a huge part of my life.”
That is something of an understatement. With a Cork mum and a Kerry father, the Raheny forward has grown up in a sports-mad household. She is also part of a generation of Dublin players who have been going non-stop since their mid-teens and have already amassed massive experience and success.
Hardly a year has passed that she hasn’t contested an All-Ireland final at some level. All-Ireland U16 success was followed by a minor final defeat but then a minor victory (2012) and two All-Ireland U21 titles (2014-15). She also joined the Dublin senior panel while still a minor and scored a point off the bench in the 2014 All-Ireland senior final. No surprise then that a break was needed, even if she had “sleepless nights over it” and regards it as “the hardest decision I’ve ever made.
“It wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying football,” she stresses. “I just knew I wanted to do the J1 thing eventually and just felt it was the right time.”
Working in an Iraqi liquor store and deli in California was a world away from the GAA but she absolutely loved her sunshine summer. The regret only hit last last September when the four amigos returned home three days before Dublin lost the TG4 All-Ireland senior final to Cork, for the second year in-a-row.
“That was one of the toughest days ever,” she says. “The four of us met for breakfast in Phibsboro before going in to Croke Park. We sat in the lower Cusack, about four rows from the front and it was like ‘that’s where I want to be!’
“So it was a reminder, it gave us a huge appetite for coming back this year.”
Woods is among the group of returnees who have undoubtedly strengthened Dublin’s hand this year as they romped to a fifth Leinster title in-a-row. Getting four-time Allstar Sinead Aherne back was another coup by manager Gregory McGonigle and it’s shown on the scoreboard where they’ve totted up some massive scores, including their 4-23 to 0-7 destruction of Westmeath in the Leinster final.
Aherne has already clocked up 2-18, Lyndsey Davey has 2-11, Carla Rowe and Nicole Owens have 2-8 apiece and Woods has chipped in with 2-6. Yet most of this current team wasn’t around when Dublin won their only senior All-Ireland in 2010.
That’s the holy grail that will be driving them when they take on Donegal in a double-header of TG4 All-Ireland quarter-finals in Longford tomorrow (Sat). Woods, a psychology student in DCU, was also lucky enough that her usual part-time work with an advertising agency was expanded for the summer. That has also given her a new appreciation for some of her teammates.
“I’ve been working 9-6 and it’s tough! I’m so used to just having college and training but now you have to plan your day and how to get to training after work. It’s a lot harder than I thought.”
Her twin sister Aideen did head back to the States this summer and is among the young Irish working in Montauk.
“She played football when we were younger but wouldn’t be like me. She probably wouldn’t go to games except to watch me,” Woods laughs.
So is it true twins have a special connection?
“You mean like telepathy?” she giggles.
“Oh yes, definitely… I can sense her tan from here and feel her having a cocktail right now!”
Show your #SeriousSupport at the TG4 Ladies All-Ireland Football Championship Final on September 25th in Croke Park. Get your tickets here!