Tyrone stars Woods and Hunter announce inter-county retirements

With almost thirty years of senior inter county football between, them two of Tyrone’s most experienced players have announced their retirements from the inter-county game, but have promised to continue their club careers within the county. Former Captain Neamh Woods and vice-Captain Christiane Hunter, who both played on the same Ulster minor title winning side and senior teams since 2007, confirmed they were stepping aside.

Neamh, from the Drumragh Sarsfields club, made her County senior debut as a sixteen year old in 2006 and despite having a hugely successful international netball career, was a mainstay in the Tyrone side ever since, while Christiane, who will continue to play for Omagh St Endas, missed out on just one year since making her debut in 2007. The duo both won a TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate title in 2018 while playing leading roles for the Red Hands, with three successive Ulster intermediate titles also secured.

Both played in the successful Sacred Heart College netball teams as well as the Tyrone Under 14 squad that claimed an All-Ireland title while they played again together in the minors that beat Down in the 2007 Ulster final. There was also an Ulster Senior medal and a TG4 All-Ireland senior final appearance (2010) for Neamh. Life as students at UUJ also allowed Neamh and Christiane to play in the O’Connor cup sides under Greg McGonigle.

Omagh Captain Christiane is a PE Teacher at Holy Cross College, Strabane, and has coached the school’s under-20s to a first Ulster ladies title in recent weeks. Neamh, who is planning for a wedding this year, has been teaching at St Ciaran’s College in Ballygawley for several years and has also enjoyed Ulster success with schools’ sides.

Remarkably, Neamh also played in the NI netball squad at the Commonwealth Games but was still back with Gerry Moane’s county squad for the championship. Both have suffered injuries over their careers yet their main focus has always been club and County football and it was no surprise that they were selected as Captain and Vice-Captain of Tyrone. It’s quite clear that they both showed serious commitment over 28 years of combined senior football service, not counting their underage careers.

Woods played with the Sarsfields’s boys before Ladies Football started at the club and through her Tyrone career she collected two TG4 All Star awards, one in 2010 and again in 2018, while the 2018 success over Meath at Croke Park was certainly a highlight.

Neamh was also confirmed as the TG4 Intermediate player of the year in 2018. Hunter, meanwhile, was also a 2018 TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate medallist and she won Tyrone and Ulster junior titles and was part of the club side that lost narrowly in an All-Ireland club final. Both were former Tyrone Senior players of the year.

The loss of Woods and Hunter, as well as several other experienced players who have stepped away, will be a setback for Tyrone as they prepare for the 2022 Lidl National League campaign and the return to TG4 Intermediate Championship football but Tyrone’s loss will be Drumragh and Omagh’s gain.

Former managers paid tribute to the retiring stars. Gerry Moane, who worked with Tyrone Ladies over two terms, spoke highly of their commitment and service to Tyrone, saying that what they done for the county can’t be ignored or underestimated, while current senior manager Kevin Mc Crystal echoed Moane’s sentiments.

McCrystal said: “There is no doubt they will leave a huge void in the team. The amount of years these ladies have given to Tyrone is phenomenal and they deserve credit where it’s due. The sheer dedication to their careers and football throughout this last 10-15 years should never go unnoticed.”


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