"How are you?"
It seems a gentle enquiry but it was a pertinent sentiment too, given the striker played in the 4-0 win over Highland League team Formartine United despite having learned of the death of his younger brother, Jamal, only the night before. The cup tie would offer sanctuary from his personal tragedy, with MacKay even managing to score as Annan booked their place in the next round.
"My goal was in tribute to my wee brother," said the 22-year-old. "He got killed [on Friday] in America. I found out about that last night. I was absolutely distraught. You get on the pitch and you're focused on delivering for the fans, and you just kind of forget about it over the 90 minutes."
His concentration did not seem disturbed as the Annan striker created the turning point of the game on Saturday. That came in the early stages of the second half - MacKay capitalising on a poor back pass from Stephen Jeffrey and driving towards goal, drawing a challenge from Andrew Shearer, the Formartine goalkeeper, who then earned a red card for bringing down the striker in the box. Alistair Love slotted the penalty past substitute John Calder.
Shearer later did not dispute the decision to award a spot-kick, instead his ire was directed at his sending-off. "It was a bit harsh," he said. "I certainly caught him, so I can't argue with the penalty, but it was going out of play and the centre-half was alongside him, so he'd have done well to score."
Formartine had looked the more dangerous side during the earlier exchanges, with Annan fonder of playing aimless long balls. The home side made the most of their numerical advantage, though, with their second goal coming from substitute Kieran Brannan. MacKay then scored to momentarily interrupt his grief and David Hopkirk bolstered the victory with a fourth.
It is when he is not on the pitch that MacKay might require greater support from those around him, though, and Jim Chapman insisted the SPFL League 2 club will do all they can to get their player through such a difficult time. "We had a good chat about things," said the Annan manager, whose side has now reached a third cup semi-final in five years as a senior club. "We'll look after him the best we can."