As Aimee Mackin joined Thursday’s OTB AM to discuss Saturday’s Peil na mBan - Foirne na Bliana awards on TG4, OTB's own Catherine Murphy reflected on her first hand experience to explain why the Armagh star stands alone in Gaelic football.
Over my four years of college football with DIT/TU Dublin City Campus, UUJ were quite frankly a constant thorn in our sides and that’s largely because they always came with an asterisk – Aimee Mackin.
By and large our various managers weren’t too focused on the opposition’s key players. We had enough of our own with five of Dublin’s 2020 All-Ireland matchday squad amongst our ranks.
Yet, when it came to UUJ, Mackin’s name always arose.
Having been a goalkeeper for the best part of 15 years at that stage, I'd like to think that I had faced my fair share of scary forward lines and come out fairly okay on the other side.
When Mackin is playing, however, if you're not wary you're doing it wrong.
On Saturday night, as well as being nominated for Player of the Year, Aimee Mackin is also up for the AIG Goal of the Year.
The goal in question? An absolute cracker scored against Dublin in this year's All-Ireland semi-final. A dummy to one side, Dublin players sent flying to the ground and a strong left boot into the back of the net.
Initially unaware of the reaction it caused, she was happy to put it down to practice.
"It’s something that I work on in training," she explained, "so it was just sort of instinctive when it happened. I think you have to [back yourself] as a forward.
"It's all about practicing and when that opportunities come you have to take it."
— Spórt TG4 🐝 (@SportTG4) November 28, 2020
Having personally stood in goal against her, I can say first-hand that she is every bit the class act that this specific goal suggests.
Famed for outrageous shooting, her speed and height are not to be doubted either. Kick-outs never carried much of a plan against UUJ; “Away from Mackin!” was the general gist. I couldn’t argue with the logic.
And when she did win the kick-out? Well, there was often only one outcome, it just depended on whether she took it for herself or fashioned it for a team-mate.
I always prided myself on being fairly fearless in goals and I've certainly had the scars and bruises to show for it. When it came to Mackin though, the worst thing was that you could always see it coming.
She just finds her way through and her goal nominated for Saturday’s award certainly shows that. So when she’s already passed your whole defense and her leg lifts back… it takes a very brave woman to stop her!
Despite my multiple - generally unhappy - run-ins with her on the field, I have nothing but admiration for her.
A talent unlike any I've seen in Ladies Football and still only in her early 20’s, Aimee Mackin will hopefully be inspiring many generations of young footballers, both male and female, for years to come.