"It's all those hours in the garden that develops your skills" - Making of the best finisher in ladies football 1 month ago

"It's all those hours in the garden that develops your skills" - Making of the best finisher in ladies football

It was only her second game back from a cruciate ligament injury and Aimee Mackin only played the second half.

Her club, Shane O'Neill's, were trailing Crossmaglen Rangers at half-time and needed inspiration. Shane O'Neill's won that game by 30 points, Mackin scored 8-1.

How is that for inspiration?

Any worries that the Northern Ireland soccer international and Armagh ace forward might take a while to get to the pace of it were immediately quashed. This was a woman making up for lost time.

She'd end her comeback season as the TG4 Ladies Footballer of the Year having scored 5-17 (4-11 from play) in just three senior inter-county championship games. One glance at her 2020 highlight-reel leaves you seeing stars.

You can take a look at that highlight reel, put together by Jerome Quinn, below.

The undoubted star turn of the women's game right now joined Colm Parkinson on Thursday's GAA Hour show where she talked her inspirations in the game, and learning some of those trademark skills.

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"We would have watched a lot of football growing up, especially the Armagh men's and women's teams. They had such great teams. I always remember the likes of Ronan Clarke and Steven McDonnell.

"Then at half-time in games, you'd be out in the garden practicing. It started when I was young, we would have been out every day and you wouldn't have known it was practice, it was just something that we did. When you look back, it's all those hours in the garden that started to develop your skills.

Mackin is by this stage renowned for her dummy hop but just like Sean Cavanagh and Arjen Robben, defenders know it's coming but they still can't stop it.

"I watched a lot of football matches, seeing other county players doing it and trying to learn it then," she says of the trademark dummy hop.

"A lot of it is probably instinct do you know, when you have practiced the skills, and it comes into your game then."

In 2020, Mackin was unplayable but she sees room for improvement on an individual level and for Armagh as a team.

"There's less space in games. You don't get as opportunities for goals. It probably is what I have to learn a bit as well, is seeing an opportunity more, maybe there are more opportunities in games for goals out there..."

"I think the key as a forward is to keep moving. It's never usually the first movement that you get the pass, it could be the second or the third move that gets you the ball. If you stand still, it's going to be very easy defend against so I try to make it as difficult for them as I can..."

There's no doubt about that.