Aimee Mackin key as Armagh look to finally get over the line in promotion push
Lidl National Football League Division Two
ARMAGH’S Aimee Mackin knows there is hard work ahead in the next couple of months if the Orchard county are to give themselves the opportunity to get back to a league final and challenge for promotion.
They begin their campaign with the relatively short trip to Cavan on Sunday and it’s a first game for new manager Shane McCormack who has taken over from Ronan Murphy.
McCormack, though, is no stranger to the players, having been assistant manager to Murphy for two seasons.
The second league tier is one of, if not the, most competitive of the four divisions.
There are four Ulster teams competing, with Monaghan and Tyrone making up the quartet and for the first time since 2020 the league resumes its old format – an eight-team league with seven round-robin games and the top two battling it out for league honours and promotion.
Wexford are up from Division Three while Westmeath are back down from Division One.
Mackin is especially looking forward to that, getting a taste of league football from all over the country and knows that will stand to them when it comes to championship time as they attempt to win a fourth consecutive Ulster senior title and make inroads in the All-Ireland series.
“It’ll be great to get back to the normal format of the league and to play against the other teams outside of our province will only help us develop even further. We will be coming up against the best players all over the country so that’ll be exciting and we are looking forward to the challenge,” she said.
“Division Two is one of the hardest to get out of, there are so many teams that are fighting for the one goal and that’s what makes it exciting.
“I think every team that’s in it is a contender because we’ve all got an equal chance at the start of the league, we all play the same amount of games so everyone has a chance. We are looking forward to the challenge and that’s why we play football so hopefully it’ll be another exciting campaign.”
While it is undoubtedly an aim to get back to a league final, Mackin, who picked up her third Allstar award in 2022, knows that they cannot look any further ahead than their next game such is the competitiveness of the competition.
“The main aim every year is to take one game at a time, she said. “And we will do the same this year. Last year, unfortunately we came up short [against Kerry] so this year we want to do the best we can do. And we won’t be looking any further than this weekend’s opener.
“Cavan are a great team with great players and we know how tough a contest it will be.We’ve met them a few times over the past number of years and you know it’s going to a tough physical battle.”
At the same time, she also knows, that striving for promotion is crucial in order to progress as a county and be able to challenge the likes of current All-Ireland champions Meath and previous winners Dublin and Cork.
“It is important to get up to division One to be playing the best teams in the country. Division Two is very competitive and every team has the same objective but only one can go up.”
January 22 Round 1: Cavan v Armagh, Laois v Monaghan, Tipperary v Westmeath, Tyrone v Roscommon
January 29 Round 2: Westmeath v Laois, Monaghan v Tyrone, Roscommon v Armagh, Tipperary v Cavan
February 5 Round 3: Armagh v Monaghan, Cavan v Westmeath, Laois v Tyrone, Tipperary v Roscommon
February 19 Round 4: Tipperary v Laois, Monaghan v Cavan, Tyrone v Armagh, Roscommon v Westmeath
February 26 Round 5: Westmeath v Tyrone, Armagh v Laois, Monaghan v Tipperary, Cavan v Roscommon
March 19 Round 6: Tipperary v Tyrone, Laois v Cavan, Monaghan v Roscommon, Armagh v Westmeath
March 26 Round 7: Tyrone v Cavan, Westmeath v Monaghan, Tipperary v Armagh, Roscommon v Laois
April 15 - Final