Wednesday 21 February 2018

Daly hails 'phenomenal' Mackin as Armagh seal top-flight promotion

Armagh 4-18 Donegal 4-6: Tesco Ladies NFL Div 2 final

Armagh’s Aimee Mackin scores a first-half goal despite the efforts of Donegal’s Nicole McLaughlin in their Division 2 final
Armagh’s Aimee Mackin scores a first-half goal despite the efforts of Donegal’s Nicole McLaughlin in their Division 2 final
Armagh teammates Fionnuala McKenna and Caroline O'Hanlon celebrate with the cup
Donegal's Shannon McGroddy in action against Sinead McCoy of Armagh

Jackie Cahill

Armagh boss James Daly hailed the impact of his "phenomenal" inside forward Aimee Mackin following Saturday's 12-point victory over Donegal.

The rampant Orchard County gained promotion to the top flight with an impressive display in the all-Ulster derby at Parnell Park.

Mackin was the star turn with 2-5 from play, just months after scoring 2-3 on her senior debut against Westmeath.

Her two goals were brilliantly-taken and Mackin also concluded the scoring with a sumptuous long-range point.

Her display left Daly drooling as Armagh's thoughts turned to the championship and an Ulster first-round clash with Monaghan.

Daly said: "She's phenomenal - the best young player in the country. It was a good day all round for us. I'll give them a week off now before preparations begin for the championship. We play Monaghan in seven weeks' time and there's work to do, which is a good thing."


Without injured centre-back Sinéad McCleary, Donegal managed to expose Armagh's soft centre, with Yvonne McMonagle bagging a hat-trick of goals.

In a repeat of the 2005 Division 2 decider, the outcome was the same as Armagh claimed three first-half goals to turn the screw, before adding another in the second half to halt a Donegal mini-revival.

Armagh were rocked after just 40 seconds when McMonagle netted but Armagh's response was impressive. Mackin responded in kind after eight minutes before McKenna struck in the 17th minute.

Geraldine McLaughlin scored Donegal's second goal four minutes before half-time but Armagh pounced with a decisive blow with just 17 seconds remaining on the clock, as Mackin showed a blistering turn of pace to evade the cover before lashing home her second goal.

That well-taken effort handed Armagh a 3-10 to 2-3 half-time lead and the lead increased to 11 points after the break, as Lauren McConville responded to McLaughlin's point with a brace of scores.

But Donegal had shown enough in that first half to suggest that they could punch holes in Armagh defence.

McMonagle did haul Donegal back into contention with a 38th-minute goal and when McLaughlin popped over a free, the deficit was down to six points, with Donegal trailing by 3-6 to 3-12.

Armagh steadied themselves with points from Kelly Mallon and Mackin before McKenna put the result beyond doubt with her second goal.

McMonagle did pull another goal back for Donegal with eight minutes remaining as the Glenfin full-forward was credited with the final touch to beat Daly.

But this was Armagh's day as Mackin kick-started the promotion party.

Scorers - Armagh: A Mackin 2-5, F McKenna 2-2, K Mallon 0-6 (3f), L McConville 0-2, A McCoy, C Malone & C O'Hanlon 0-1 each. Donegal: Y McMonagle 3-0, G McLaughlin 1-2 (1f), A McDonnell, N Hegarty, S McGroddy & A Barrett 0-1 each.

Armagh - K Daly; M Tennyson, C Morgan, S Marley; S Reel, N Henderson, N Marley; C Malone, C O'Hanlon; A McCoy, K Mallon, L Kenny; L M McConville, F McKenna, A Mackin. Subs: S McCoy for S Marley (44), M McAlinden for McKenna (50), M McGuinness for N Marley (50), T McCoy for McConville (60), S Grey for McCoy (60).

Donegal - L Gallagher; D Foley, E Gallagher, Nicole McLaughlin; A McDonnell, C Hegarty, Niamh McLaughlin; K Herron, R Curran; E Ward, N Hegarty, S McGroddy; A Barrett, Y McMonagle, G McLaughlin. Subs: R Boyle for Curran (15), K Keeney for Nicole McLaughlin (h-t), T Doherty for Ward (h-t), E McCrory for Barrett (41).

Ref - G Carmody (Mayo)

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