ARMAGH STAR AND Ladies Footballer of the Year Aimee Mackin says “it’s nice” to have supporters attending GAA matches again following the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Armagh star forward Aimee Mackin.

Source: Sportsfile

From 7 June in the Republic of Ireland, up to 200 people will be allowed attend outdoor events at venues which have a minimum capacity of 5,000, while up to 100 people can attend other outdoor events.

The government have also announced a series of test events to take place in June, while Minister of State for Sport, Jack Chambers, has confirmed further test events for July and August. 

The Ladies Football National League Division 1 and 2 finals on 26 June in Croke Park are among the fixtures that will act as a test event.

Mackin has already sampled the experience of playing in front of fans again following the announcement that 500 spectators can attend Allianz League games which take place in Northern Ireland. 

Armagh are in Division 2B which is effectively an all-Ulster group and have already played Tyrone and Monaghan in the group stage of the competition.

“We were playing Monaghan at the Athletic Grounds yesterday and we had 500 or so at it,” says a delighted Mackin. “That’s great I think, it’s important to get supporters. We’re not used to playing football without our families or our friends.

“It’s nice to have them back and it’s a step in the right direction, we’ve missed it all of last year so hopefully it can just continue and we can end up filling the stadiums eventually.

The news of crowds returning to games caps off an encouraging few weeks for sport, particularly for the LGFA and Camogie Association. Female players are set to receive an annual increase of €2.4 million to the State’s funding of GAA players. This means the current number will be trebled to ensure parity with their male counterparts.

“It’s probably something we’ve been lacking compared to the men and you don’t realise it until you see the actual figures,” says Mackin about the increase in funding.

“Hopefully, it can help the development in each county. I know within my own county we’re funding our own GAA pitch so it’s our home as such and we’re not asking clubs for pitches. The funding will help us develop even further both on the pitch and off the pitch and that can only help the game then.”

That league clash with Monaghan on Sunday ended in defeat for Armagh but a place in the semi-finals is still possible for the Orchard County as they prepare to face the current table-toppers Cavan this weekend.

And with the Ulster senior championship approaching later in the month, these are all crucial dress rehearsals for the clashes coming down the line.

“It’s all to play for this weekend,” Mackin notes.

“It’s a tough division to get out of because there’s five or six teams that are playing senior championship so Division 2 is very competitive. Again, it’s so unpredictable who’s going to go to the semi-finals.

“We’ll just focus on ourselves this week and try and make improvements from the game against Monaghan. We were disappointed yesterday, not to get a victory. But Monaghan are a strong team and we’ll meet them again soon enough in the Ulster championship and the All-Ireland series.

DRAÍOCHT ag Aimee Mackin

The @ArmaghLGFA v @dublinladiesg
forward is on FireFireFire GOAL!!@LadiesFootball
@20x20_ie
@GAA_BEO#ProperFan #20×20 #PeilnamBanpic.twitter.com/kCbTJXKSyE

— Ladies Football (@LadiesFootball) November 28, 2020

“It’s a hectic schedule but it’s good to be back.”

Mackin’s stock in Ladies Football continues to rise since her emergence on the senior inter-county stage.

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In addition to picking up the Footballer of the Year award last year, she also picked up the Goal of the Year gong for her sweet strike against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final. She has three All-Stars to her name as well, winning her last one alongside sister Blaithin.

This has all been achieved by the age of just 23.

Mackin is also an impressive soccer player, although she is just focusing on GAA for the moment as she does not want to stretch herself across too many sports having suffered a torn cruciate in 2019.

As one of the brightest stars in the sport at the moment, it would be natural to enquire if heading Down Under to join the many Irish stars already plying their trade in the AFLW appeals to her in the future.

It’s not that she hasn’t thought about it, but for now, Gaelic football and another season with Armagh is her main priority. 

“A lot of the Ladies footballers have gone out so it’s sort of crops into your head,” she says. “Whether [or not] it’s something I’d like to do, I haven’t been in contact with anyone as of yet so I’m just focusing on this season with Armagh, I haven’t really looked too much into it.

“But the Irish girls are doing well over there and the mix with GAA seems to be very similar so it’s something probably every Ladies footballer has thought of but at the minute, I’m just focusing on Armagh.”

Aimee Mackin was speaking following the announcement of Glenveagh Homes as new sponsors of the LGFA’s Gaelic4Girls Programme

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