By Niall Gartland
THERE were no signs that Aimee Mackin has lost her scoring touch as Armagh secured a 4-14 to 1-10 victory over Tyrone on Saturday to book their third Ulster Championship final appearance in-a-row.
She racked up a personal tally of 1-5 in her first inter-county appearance in 16 months after sustaining a dreaded ACL injury in an All-Ireland Championship clash against Cork last year.
The two-time All-Star has worked her way back to fitness and was delighted to play a full part in a surprisingly comfortable victory over Tyrone.
“It’s great to be back, I’d waiting a long time for it to come, and even longer with everything that’s going on at the moment.
“It’s nice to play never mind score. The whole team has waited a long time to be back, we didn’t know if there’d be any football or not. There was club football obviously but it’s great to be back playing with Armagh.”
Ronan Murphy’s side led by 4-10 to 1-3 at the break, which is some going, but Mackin wasn’t surprised that they showed no obvious signs of ring-rustines
“We knew we had it in us to play that kind of football, and in fairness we had a bit of a breeze behind our backs as well. It is a bit like heading into the unknown as you don’t know how other teams are going, so we just focused on our own game and thankfully it worked out.”
It was a disappointing day out for Tyrone, but they made a much better fist of things after the break. That’ll give them some confidence as the two sides are set to meet again in a week’s time in an All-Ireland group stage clash.
“We’ve been in the same position as them where we’ve been looking to bounce back from a bad defeat.
“I wouldn’t read too much into the scoreline, the second half was a lot tighter and was more like the Tyrone we know. It’ll be a new game, we’ll be starting from zero-zero.”
Mackin combined well on the day with the rest of the Armagh team. Her fellow inside forwards Caroline O’Hanlon and Kelly Mallon showed well throughout, while Aoife McCoy and Catherine Marley’s distribution was excellent.
That’s without mentioning sister Blaithin,who scored two goals, while full-back Clodagh McCambridge also deserves credit as she was absolutely superb in defence.
“I wasn’t surprised at all that we still linked up well. The supply of ball is always top quality and I knew they’d find me. I just make the runs and try to score for the team, that’s what I’m there to do really.”
The match was broadcast live on Facebook by well-known Ulster GAA journalist Jerome Quinn, and Mackin is glad that fans can still tune in with games behind closed doors.
“It’s good for us and it’s good for people to be able to watch whether it’s on television or Facebook. It’s something to look forward to and hopefully things will work out over the next few months.”
It was confirmed earlier in the week that the GAA’s inter-county matches will continue even though the Republic has moved to ‘Level Five’ restrictions, and she’s happy that the season hasn’t been pulled.
“We’d been training for months for this and the situation was always in the back of my mind but I always wanted it to happen. I know people have different opinions but I’m just glad it’s going ahead.”