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Amagh's Mackin raring to go after ban is quashed

By John Campbell

Malachy Mackin has had to exercise patience in his bid to become an established member of the Armagh side.

But his commitment, perseverance and loyalty are currently bringing their own rewards — and he’s also enjoying the rub of the green.

A one-match ban had threatened his involvement in tonight’s vital National League Division One game against Mayo but when his suspension was quashed by the Central Hearings Committee — it was imposed retrospectively following a flare-up in the Armagh v Cork tie — it marked the latest fillip in what has been an eventful two months for the Cullyhanna clubman.

After an encouraging Power NI Dr McKenna Cup campaign Mackin was voted man of the match in the opening league win over Cork and then turned in a power-packed performance which was highlighted by two towering long-range points in the stunning victory over Kerry.

Then came a further career boost when he lifted the prestigious Player of the Year accolade at the Armagh County Board awards banquet.

No wonder that the personable Mackin is now fired up for the confrontation with James Horan’s revitalised Mayo.

“I’m delighted to be available for this game after having had a one-match ban imposed,” he says.

“Now I just want to go out and let my football do the talking.

“This is a huge match for Armagh because we know that a win will help put us in the frame to do even better,” insists Mackin.

He has already featured at full-forward and midfield and may now be given a free-roaming role against Mayo since his lung-bursting forays into opposition territory have proven a key tenet of Armagh’s strategy to date.

“I don’t mind where I play,” adds Mackin.

His voracious work-rate and scoring touch could certainly prove valuable against a Mayo side that encompasses a mixture of youth and experience.

Horan’s side face six games in the next six weeks after their last league game against Dublin had to be abandoned at half-time because of fog in Castlebar.

Now Horan wants to see his side begin this hectic schedule by collecting two points at Armagh’s expense and he is hoping that Cillian O’Connor, one of the most exciting young forwards in the game, will prove a big threat to an Orchard County rearguard which will be missing the suspended Ciaran McKeever.

But the home defence will nonetheless be underpinned by seasoned performers such as Andy Mallon, Brendan Donaghy and Paul Duffy.

While there is much talk about the number of high-profile absentees from the Armagh side, manager Paddy O’Rourke’s resolve to make the best of his available resources has brought considerable comfort to date.

“Much has been made of the fact we are without the Crossmaglen boys and the likes of Steven McDonnell, Gavin McParland and Rory Grugan but the players who have come in have shown themselves to be very capable.

“They have adapted well to the situation in which they have found themselves and they will be all the better footballers for this,” observes O’Rourke (pictured).

Eugene McVerry — ruled out by a shoulder injury — Stefan Forker, Anto Duffy, Colm Watters, Caolan Rafferty, Stefan Campbell and Ryan Rafferty are among the Orchard County’s young guns who have been firing out their own message of defiance lately.

While the new kids on the block are ready to further prove their worth it’s Mackin who best epitomises the spirit that could see O’Rourke’s team remain among the Division One pacesetters after tonight.

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