Video: Ulster stars Aimee Mackin and Eimear Smyth among winners in 2020 Ladies Football Player of Year awards
ARMAGH’S Aimee Mackin was the name on everyone’s lips on Saturday evening as she was named the 2020 TG4 Senior Player’s Player of the Year.
Mackin was voted the best of the year by her peers, seeing off Dublin duo Carla Rowe and Sinead Goldrick who were also nominated.
And it was an evening to remember for the Shane O’Neill’s sharpshooter whose screaming second half goal against Dublin in the All-Ireland senior semi-final was selected the AIG Cúl na Bliana, ‘Goal of the Year’ award.
Mackin had been named at number 12 in the Senior Team of the Championship, which also included two other Orchard stars including her sister Blaithin and Clodagh McCambridge, earlier during the special hour long screening of Peil na mBan – Foirne na Bliana – le AIG Insurance.’
With no official Ladies Football All Stars this year, the LGFA and TG4, in association with AIG Insurance, chose to honour the Teams of the 2020 All-Ireland Football Championships across the three grades, revealing these alongside the prestigious Players’ Player of the Year awards.
Mackin lit up the championship with stunning performances in Armagh’s three games that saw them reach the last four only to be denied by defending champions Dublin, who went on to claim their fourth consecutive All-Ireland.
The 23-year-old has always been a standout player but her form in the championship last year, is all the more remarkable given the fact 12 months earlier she sustained the dreaded cruciate knee ligament injury against Cork.
She made her comeback against Tyrone in the Ulster Senior Championship semi-final, playing in the Orchard colours for the first time in 16 months, making an instantaneous mark and never looked backed. Over the three championship games in the All-Ireland series she notched up 5-17 (Tyrone 1-6, Mayo 2-7 and Dublin 2-4) scoring some exceptional points and goals including that one against Dublin in the semi-final that was voted ‘Goal of the Year’.
Mackin said the Covid pandemic over the last year put things into perspective for her but pulling on the Orchard jersey again for the first time since that injury against Cork in August 2019 was a special moment and
“When the Covid situation came about I thought it’s definitely not the worst thing that can happen to you and people are definitely worse off,” she said.
“Coming out against Tyrone it was a great feeling putting on the county jersey and playing competitive football again. It was a very enjoyable game too and thankfully we got the win and the performance to go with it.
“It was one the best feelings. I waited long enough for it and to get that opportunity I was very grateful and to have a season in itself. I was probably more hungry than ever, just in terms of the injury and with the Covid restrictions, I think everyone was a wee bit hungrier.
(The full interview is on the Jerome Quinn Media Facebook page)
It was probably one of the most enjoyable seasons as well so confidence was high and I was going into each game with a good bit of confidence and I was enjoying my football.”
Mackin also paid tribute to her county team-mates, without whom, she says, she would not be picking up awards like this.
“It’s an honour for me to pick up this award and represent my club and county and it’s definitely a proud moment for my family as well.
“Individual awards at the end of the year are always nice and you can’t pick up these without your team-mates,” she added.
All-Ireland champions Dublin saw six players named on the Senior Team of the Year with finalists Cork getting four on the teamsheet, followed by Armagh’s three and one each for Galway and Tipperary.
Armagh picked up the pivotal heart of the defence positions. Clodagh McCambridge was in at number three for her stellar displays in the full back line and was fully deserving of her spot there as one of the stand-out defenders in the championship.
And it certainly a special night for the Mackin household in Camlough as younger sister Blaithin was named at centre half back. She too had an outstanding championship campaign for Ronan Murphy’s side, mixing her defensive capabilities with her attacking prowess and also showing she can pop up for a score or two for her side.
Senior Team of the Championship
Martina O’Brien (Cork); Martha Byrne (Dublin), Clodagh McCambridge (Armagh), Eimear Meaney (Cork); Melissa Duggan (Cork), Blaithin Mackin (Armagh), Sinead Goldrick (Dublin);
Jennifer Dunne (Dublin), Louise Ward (Galway); Carla Rowe (Dublin), Lyndsey Davey (Dublin),
Aimee Mackin (Armagh); Áine O’Sullivan (Cork), Aishling Moloney (Tipperary), Noelle Healy (Dublin)
AIG Cúl na Bliana
1. Aimee Mackin – Armagh v Dublin (TG4 All-Ireland Senior semi-final)
2. Vikki Wall – Meath v Westmeath (TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate final)
3. Áine O’Sullivan – Cork v Dublin (TG4 All-Ireland Senior final)
FERMANAGH’S Eimear Smyth said being voted the TG4 Junior Players’ Player of the Year for 2020 is a “massive honour” but that she wouldn’t be in the position without her Erne team-mates.
It was in fact the second year running that Smyth, still only 20, was voted by her peers as Player of the Year but after her performances in the Erne jersey in last year’s championship it’s not hard to see why.
The Derrygonnelly club player scored 6-18 over four games as Fermanagh claimed All-Ireland junior honours at Wicklow’s expense in the early December final.
Smyth was voted in ahead of her team-mate Joanne Doonan and Wicklow’s Meadhbh Deeney for the junior accolade.
“Obviously it’s a massive honour and especially special when it’s voted by the players that you play against. I’m massively honoured but football’s a team game and I wouldn’t be here without my team-mates and I just know how important they have been. We are all part of one team,” she said.
Smyth was also named at corner forward in the Junior Team of the Championship along with four other Fermanagh players including goalkeeper Shauna Murphy, who was outstanding all through, but none more so than in the final dying minutes of the All-Ireland as Wicklow threw everything at Jonny Garrity’s side.
Defender Sarah McCausland was named at wing half back with midfielder Roisin O’Reilly given the number nine jersey.
Fermanagh play maker Aisling Maguire, who was named as Player of the final, was named at number 12 and joined by Smyth in corner forward.
There was no room, however, for Players’ Player of the Year nomination Joanne Doonan.
Antrim’s Saoirse Tennyson was the only other Ulster representative on the team, with the St Paul’s player taking the centre half back position. Seven Wicklow players and two Limerick made the remaining places on the final 15.
THE TG4 Intermediate Players’ Player of the Year went to Meath’s Vikki Wall, whose goal in the All-Ireland final against Westmeath was also selected as number two in the Goal of the Year category.
She saw off her team-mate Emma Duggan and Westmeath’s Fiona Claffey for the player of the year accolade.
And it was Meath who dominated the Team of the Championship selection as they put two previous All-Ireland final losses behind them to finally land the intermediate title last year. They finished with seven representatives on the team, runners-up Westmeath have four players, Clare have two, with one each for Kildare and Roscommon.
Junior Team of the Championship
Shauna Murphy (Fermanagh); Emily Mulhall (Wicklow), Sarah Jane Winders (Wicklow),
Rebekah Daly (Limerick); Alanna Conroy (Wicklow), Saoirse Tennyson (Antrim), Sarah McCarville (Fermanagh); Aoife Gorman (Wicklow), Róisín O’Reilly (Fermanagh); Áine Cunningham (Limerick), Laura Hogan (Wicklow), Aisling Maguire (Fermanagh); Eimear Smyth (Fermanagh), Meadhbh Deeney (Wicklow), Marie Kealy (Wicklow)
Intermediate Team of the Championship
Monica McGuirk (Meath); Rachel Dillon (Westmeath), Lucy Power (Westmeath), Emma Troy (Meath); Róisín Considine (Clare), Fiona Claffey (Westmeath), Megan Thynne (Meath);
Jennifer Higgins (Roscommon), Máire O’Shaughnessy (Meath); Emma Duggan (Meath)
Vikki Wall (Meath), Anna Jones (Westmeath); Stacey Grimes (Meath), Niamh O’Dea (Clare),
Róisín Byrne (Kildare)