New Shels man makes mark for Trinity in Harding Cup Final

by Dave Donnelly
James Woods, left, and Trinity captain Dylan Connolly with the Harding Cup Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Pearse Street native James Woods is targeting an extended run in the Shelbourne team after scoring a dream winner in the Harding Cup final for Trinity College at Tolka Park last week.

The Dublin University team won the trophy – which is confined to university freshers – for the first time in 21 years thanks to Woods’ strike in first-half stoppage time.

It was the 19-year-old’s first appearance in the competition having missed the first two days due to his involvement with Shels’ first team squad as they kicked off their season with a defeat to UCD.

“When I heard it was going to be in Tolka, obviously it was a bit of an added incentive,” Woods told Dublin Gazette.

“I was hoping I could get off to a good start in the stadium because I haven’t played a competitive fixture there yet. It was a dream it being in Tolka and scoring the winner was the icing on the cake.”

Woods spent the 2017 season with Dundalk’s Under-19s, stepping up to the senior team as they reached the Leinster Senior Cup final – which they lost, fittingly, to Shelbourne at Oriel Park.

The versatile defender made a couple of appearances on the bench at the tail end of the Lilywhites’ league campaign but, after speaking to manager Stephen Kenny, decided to seek game-time.

That came with the offer of First Division football with the Reds, who will look to mount a promotion challenge on a modest budget with a young and talented squad.

“With Dundalk, obviously they’re a full-time team. And being in college, and I’m from Dublin, so it’s a long way up to Dundalk every day for training.

“It did make more sense to play football in Dublin. I was onto Stephen Kenny and he made that point as well. When the option to go to Shels came about, it made a lot sense really.

“There’s probably more chance of playing than if I was with at Dundalk at the top of the Premier Division and Europe.

“With Shels, we’re going for promotion and I’m hoping I can progress a bit more there than I would’ve been able to do with Dundalk.”

Woods, who is in the first year of a BESS – business, economics and social sciences -degree at Trinity, has another link to the Drumcondra club – his dad Ian spent a season there in 1988/89.

“My dad played a lot in the League of Ireland. I wasn’t really sure but then when I signed I was told he played and scored a few goals.

“A few people at the club did know that and they knew my name when I was coming in.”

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