Mackin crowned Ulster’s leading Lady

February 12, 2018

Richard Bullick

Armagh ace Aimee Mackin has been crowned Ulster Ladies Footballer of the Year on the back of another prolific campaign for the Orchard outfit in 2017.

The Shane O’Neills star, who won her second All Star last November, was honoured by the Ulster GAA Writers at last Friday’s banquet in Monaghan for her exploits during a season which also brought the second All-Star award of her career at the age of 20.

Although Armagh’s season promised more than it delivered, Mackin beat players from more successful counties to this prestigious title, perhaps helped by her stunning goal in the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Kerry.

The clip of that fantastic finish went viral while other highlights included the then teenager’s significant contribution to Armagh’s first ever victory over the then All-Ireland champions Cork followed by an historic away win against Dublin.

Aimee played every minute of the 11 competitive matches Armagh had in 2017, in spite of breaking her finger late in the All-Ireland qualifier against Westmeath two weeks before that defeat to Kerry at the last eight stage.

She top-scored in 10 of those games, the exception coming in the fourth fixture of NFL Division One when Mackin kicked only two points in Armagh’s 1-12 against Galway away when the Orchard crew were denied by two late goals.

However in the following game she hit a fantastic 1-9 as Armagh gave a superb peformance in coming away with a convincing victory at Abbotstown over a Dublin team who would go on to be crowned All-Ireland champions.

Last January, Mackin had picked up the Gaelic Life Ulster Club Player of the Year award before beginning her new season with six points out of 0-11 in an Armagh’s disappointing defeat away to newly-promoted Donegal in their National League opener.

She got five points next time out as Armagh famously scalped Cork at Clonmore and, after that unusually meagre return against Galway, raised her first green flag of the year in that wonderful defeat of Dublin.

Armagh scored only nine points in losing narrowly away to Kerry, Mackin kicking four of them, and she led the way in both Monaghan matches in April when double defeat condemned Sean O’Kane’s side to the drop.

In the regular league game at Clones she got 0-6 of Armagh’s 2-12, followed by 1-5 out of 2-11 in the following week’s relegation play-off against the Farney women in the Athletic Grounds.

Mackin got all but seven points of the team’s 1-10 in June’s Ulster Senior Championship semi-final defeat to Donegal, scored 1-8 of 3-16 in the Westmeath win and then hit 2-4 against Kerry as Armagh bowed out of the All-Ireland.

That gave Aimee an Armagh aggregate of 6-61 for the season and her exploits proved enough for the Camlough girl to win an All-Star as one of only three Ulster players alongside Donegal’s Hegarty sisters, Ciara – her closest challenger for the GAA Writers’ award – and Niamh.

Armagh are still searching for their first win of 2018 after a home defeat to Tipperary and away draw with Cavan so far in NFL Division Two, but Mackin has top-scored in both game with 1-5 and 0-8 respectively including a superb point late on to ensure the Orchard didn’t leave Templeport empty handed.

Part of the historic trip to China by her club Shane O’Neills just after Christmas, Mackin is set for the Far East again next month when the All-Stars go on tour to Thailand.

Like Caroline O’Hanlon has done over many years, Mackin’s high-profile helps keep the flag flying for the Orchard county at national level and and among those to congratulate Aimee on her latest award is Armagh Ladies Chairperson Sinead Reel.

“On behalf of everyone involved in Armagh ladies football I would like to congratulate Aimee Mackin on winning another prestigious award to go with her two All-Stars and the numerous other accolades she has received in her exceptional career to date,” says Sinead.

“It’s a team game and Aimee is always the first to acknowledge the efforts of her colleagues when she wins awards but every sport has its stars who make the headlines and we’re very proud to have one from Armagh who is still only 20 years of age.

“Aimee has had a very big impact in her first few seasons of inter-county football but I know she’ll want to keep working hard, get even better and, most importantly, play her part in securing success for Armagh because ultimately medals are what mean most to top sportspeople.”

Mackin missed out on Armagh’s Ulster title triumph of 2014 so the only trophy she has won with the county to date has been the NFL Division Two title win in her first season when she picked up Player of the Match in the final against Donegal.

Armagh would settle for a repeat performance this spring as they seek an immediate return to the top flight.  Yesterday’s scheduled clash with Sligo was postponed due to the wintry weather and will now take place out west this weekend.