‘A proud moment for our family...’ Aimee Mackin looks forward to May double for Armagh siblings

Armagh ladies and men to battle it out with Donegal for Ulster Championship glory

PwC GPA Player of the Month for March in ladies' football, Aimee Mackin of Armagh, with her award at PwC's offices in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
PwC GPA Player of the Month for March in ladies' football, Aimee Mackin of Armagh, with her award at PwC's offices in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile (Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

THE shape of the ball, the colour of the jersey, the weather… even the hemisphere has changed over the past year but Aimee Mackin’s form has remained superb.

The Camlough native joined sister Blaithin in the Melbourne Demons team when Armagh’s season ended last year and, after the Aussie Rules campaign came to a close she returned with score after score to spearhead the Orchardwomen to a first-ever Division One title.

Now the Shane O’Neill’s sharpshooter and Blaithin are preparing for the LGFA Ulster Senior final against Donegal on May 19, a week after brothers Ciaran and Connaire play the men’s final, also against Donegal.

The Mackin siblings pass each other in their family home like ships in the night as they prepare to complete a remarkable double.

“It’s brilliant,” she says.

“We were texting this morning about the tickets. The boys get our tickets sorted for us and everyone had to put our thumbs up.

“It’s brilliant for us as a family and you just have to enjoy it when it’s here because it doesn’t last forever. It’s busy, a busy household, between training and washing and everything.

“We just bypass each other in the house but it’s brilliant for us all to be in a final. It’s something that is probably a proud moment for our family and we’re looking forward to it.”

Armagh's Aimee Mackin believes Division Two is the most competitive in the Lidl National League as the Ulster senior champions prepare provincial derbies against Monaghan, Cavan and Tyrone
Aimee Mackin's scores helped to drive Armagh to a first-ever Division One title

Sport of many varieties is king in the Mackin household and football doesn’t necessarily dominate every conversation. Aimee says the Mackins “talk about it” but they don’t “over-talk about it”.

“We’re into that many sports,” she says.

“There’s always something on TV, whether dad is watching darts, or snooker, anything...

“It’s always been sports we are into, so naturally enough whenever we are watching Gaelic at the weekend we talk about the match we’re watching or we talk about our own.

“We don’t over-analyse it either - it would end up getting annoying.

“It’s something we like to talk about. Dad is GAA mad, so he’ll always be eager to talk to us when we come in from a match.”

Mackin was forced off with injury in last year’s Ulster final. Armagh, chasing four in-a-row looked to be taking control in the provincial decider but without her scores the Orchardwomen lost momentum and Ciara McGarvey’s goal meant Donegal won by four points.

With the Division One silverware in the trophy cabinet, Armagh will be confident of settling the score against a Donegal side that finished third in Division Two.

“Just to get back up to Division One was a big thing for us,” said Mackin.

“We want to be playing Dublin, Mayo, Kerry… every week and it was a great experience. Initially we set out just to stay up and then with a bit of momentum we ended up in the final so it brilliant to win it.”

Mackin will return to Melbourne for a second season at the end of Armagh’s championship run. Sister Blaithin will play her third and the Demons will also field former Dublin captain Sinead Goldrick. Mackin says the clubs ‘Down Under’ are “extremely supportive” of their Irish players’ LGFA commitments.

“They totally understand what it means us to come home and play,” she explained.

“They want you to do well even though that means that, if you do well, you go later out to them. They want to see you do well and go as long as you can in our season. Our game is a fast-paced game and they (the WAFL) like that.

“Sinead Goldrick is on our team and when you see her playing you’d swear she was a natural Australian. She is brilliant and someone we could learn off too.”