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'There's no words. You're doing rehab and thinking of days like this... it was unreal' - Armagh's scoring hero

Aimee Mackin hit 2-7 – one of those a certain wonder point – as the Orchard county booked their All-Ireland semi-final spot yesterday.

Aimee Mackin with her player-of-the-match award yesterday.
Aimee Mackin with her player-of-the-match award yesterday.
Image: SPORTSFILE.

THERE’S NO DOUBT about it, Aimee Mackin was the star of the show yesterday as Armagh stunned Mayo and reached the TG4 All-Ireland senior semi-final for the first time since 2015.

The Orchard county were 4-12 to 1-16 winners at Parnell Park, with Shane O’Neill’s ace Mackin accounting for a remarkable 2-7, all but two frees from open play.

And while she was rightly named player-of-the-match once again, there was plenty of praise for the two-time All-Star, who’s not long back from a serious knee injury, online and further afield.

But as always, Mackin was keen to deflect that after the match as she instead lauded Armagh’s excellent team effort, with four-in-a-row chasing Dublin up next.

“Job done, glad to get over the line,” she told The42. “It was unreal, I’m just so proud of everyone.

“We knew it would take a big effort to come up against this Mayo side. We watched them last week, they’re just a phenomenal team. They’re so fast, so strong but we’re just glad to get over the line.

“It was a huge team effort. We couldn’t have done more, I don’t think, and I’m just so glad that we can come off the pitch and say that we gave everything, and got the win with it.”

Her younger sister Blaithin was one she singled out, the centre-half back popping up with a well-taken point shortly after playing Aimee in for her first goal. She too was heavily involved in the build-up for captain Kelly Mallon’s 12th-minute major, and her trojan work paid dividends throughout.

“Ah, phenomenal. She’s so powerful, so strong. Just when you need her, she comes in at the right times. She’s bombing off your shoulder, she’s doing lung-bursting runs. I’m just so proud of her as well.”

And while Mackin won’t take much credit for her own individual exploits, her outrageous — and now widely shared — outside-of-the-left effort had to be asked about.

“I just seen an opportunity and went for it. You just have to go with instinct sometimes and that’s what I done,” Mackin explains, her modesty shining through as she returns to discussing the team effort.

“Listen, you couldn’t fault anyone for effort. Defending, there was some blocks in there that they shouldn’t have even got a block but our girls made it. That’s just what you need.”

She won’t shy away from, or play down, the challenge ahead in facing Mick Bohan’s all-conquering Dublin side, but Mackin will certainly enjoy this one.

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It’s the icing nicely on top of a rollercoaster few months having suffered a devastating cruciate injury last July in Armagh’s famous win over Cork.

“Ah there’s no words,” she smiles. “You’re doing rehab and you’re thinking of days like this, will you get them. I’m just so glad to be there and so glad that Armagh is in a semi-final again.

“Dublin will be strong favourites after the years they’ve had. They’re a strong outfit, but listen, we’re on a wee bit of a roll ourselves so we’ll see how we get on. We’ll just work hard again and see where it gets us.”

Rónán Murphy, likewise, was anxious not to single his marquee forward out for praise when her outstanding 2-7 haul was put to him by The42

“Yeah, she’s a good footballer now,” he grinned. “Blaithin’s not bad either, the rest of them aren’t bad. Look, we’ve a lot of talented footballers and when you have forwards like that, you have to use them.

“They did exactly what we asked them to do. They worked very, very hard in defence, and they moved the ball quickly and into the forward line. The girls deserve all the credit. They executed what we wanted them to do, and they did it very well.”

And looking to Dublin at Semple Stadium in two weeks time, in what will be a repeat of Armagh’s last semi-final outing in 2015, he concluded:

“To be honest, I saw them play against Donegal. We haven’t given them any consideration, we weren’t looking past Mayo. I suppose we have to give them a bit of consideration now for the next game.

“We’ll do our homework and we’ll see where we go. But certainly the girls are hungry for success, as are we. That’s who’s next up, it’s a good challenge and hopefully we’ll overcome it too.”

This afternoon, Monaghan and Galway do battle for another semi-final spot, while Cork and Cavan face off, the Rebels in pole position to complete the last-four line-up.

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Emma Duffy

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