Ulster captain Neamh Woods was certainly not far of the mark last week.

The softly spoken Drumragh and Tyrone defender said she felt this years Ulster

championship would be very open. After Sundays dethroning of Ulster champions Armagh by a very good Donegal, her words could not have rung truer. Woods, back to her best again after serious injury in the all Ireland quarter final last season led Ulster to the inter-provincial title a fortnight ago. Woods was back to club football at the weekend and helped Drumragh to a good junior championship win but now the focus is on Down this Saturday.
Common sense has prevailed, the games the opening attraction as Pairc Esler hosts the Tyrone and Down Ulster senior championship replay.
The venue or the timing of the tie matters little to Woods or Tyrone who feel they have a point to prove this term after just missing out on the Ulster title and also slipping up against Mayo in the all Ireland semi-final.

Tyrone have prepared well after a good national league campaign that only ended in a playoff at the hands of Armagh and club football which featured the WJ Dolan championships at the weekend has not affected the Tyrone build up either, Gemma Begley and Ailish Gormley among the scores again as Carrickmore ended Errigals Ciaran reign as Tyrone and Ulster champions. Begley was happy at the win but knows that everyone must rally to the Tyrone cause again this weekend,
‘ Aye its great to get through in the championship again but now we are all back on Tuesday night as a team for Tyrone, the Errigal, Carmen and Macartans girls, we have to get ready for what we all expect will be a difficult Down side.
Tyrone Manager Michaela O’Neill, herself was among the goals as her club side Omagh lost by a point to Clan Na Gael, she remains upbeat too but knows it hasn’t been the prefect Ulster build up.
‘ I have to be happy to get the Ulster campaign up and running at last, but the club action has left our build up not quite ideal as we meet Down on Saturday’ The Ulster captain meanwhile knows that this week’s opponents will be up for this one, Woods knows the bulk of the Down squad, ‘ I am certain they will be ready for Tyrone, they have worked hard behind scenes and they are defiantly fit, I have been made well aware that we wont have it easy against them’ Down have pulled in the services of former Down great Mickey Linden to take a couple of sessions and overall the Mourne girls must be happy with the way
things are progressing this term.
The Pairc Esler factor will also be a major boost not only to Down but to the ladies game in general, The Ulster council keen no doubt to get the integration process up and running at a pace at last.
Donegals win at the weekend meanwhile was no fluke. The Tir connel girls hit several first half chances wide in the opening half before sealing a memorable win in the second thirty minutes. Two goals courtesy of Niamh Hegarty and Alish Ward drove Dom McClincheys side to a three point win.
Armagh, well they were just not at the races, Aileen Matthews hit 0-6, but from this tie Armagh can take little in the way of positives.

So the Ulster championship is up and running and as Neamh Woods suggested its an open door this year and the Tyrone ace also pointed out that Ulster football is very much back on the boil after that victory in Athlone, ‘It was great to see all the Ulster girls perform so well against the Minster side in the final, everyone played well and we were delighted to claim the
title, it all bodes well for the all Ireland series and goes to prove that Ulster football is a force again’

The Tyrone management were left looking over some injuries after the weekend action, but they remain happy with the squad they have assembled. The door though surely must remain open after some outstanding displays again over an intense championship weekend from players on the fringes.

Shannon Quinn picked up the worst of the injuries in her sides loss to Carrickmore, not only will she be a doubt for the trip to Newry but also the All Ireland minor championship tussle with Kerry in a fortnights time. Clodagh Poyntz is also carrying a knock while Ailish Gormley shipped a heavy knock on her back on Sunday.


Throw in time on Saturday in this historic clash will be 5-15pm but it is all ticket and they re available from cubs and from ticketmaster.

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