Monday 27 March 2017

Dublin star Philly McMahon: 'You sacrifice a lot and wonder what else you could be doing'

Dublin star Philly McMahon admits idea of full-time football is a tempting one
Dublin star Philly McMahon admits idea of full-time football is a tempting one
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Philly McMahon is running late.

Dublin are hosting their open night in St Brigid's GAA club but the clock has gotten the better of him.

It's already close to eight in the evening and McMahon has just finished work but there's still more to be done. The hall below teems with young faces seeking autographs. Upstairs there are media engagements to meet.

You sense that tonight, he'll be asleep before his head hits the pillow. As is the case for so many other inter-county players, time management is a daily struggle.

To that end, McMahon keeps a diary. It helps him keep a track of what he has done or. perhaps more importantly, what he has missed out on. Keeping up with Dublin football as well as his two businesses FitFood and BK Strength and Conditioning means there's hardly a quiet moment. The diary helps him keep all the balls in the air.

His busy schedule also means he can understand the mindset that drove the likes of Karl Lacey to put his professional career on the back burner in an attempt to eke the most out of his sporting career.

Kieran Donaghy confirmed yesterday that he's finishing up with Ulster Bank tomorrow, although the Kerry captain was quick to point out in a statement that he's "already looking at new opportunities in employment and (I'm) excited for what the future holds."

McMahon sees the logic and committing himself totally to football for a year is something he'd like to try.

Kerry's Kieran Donaghy
Kerry's Kieran Donaghy

"I think it's a great idea," McMahon says. "Kieran McGeeney did that a few years ago as well. Wouldn't it be nice to do that if you ran your own business and be able to step back and say, 'I'm going to focus on football this year'.

"That where I hope I can get to before I finish my career. Can my businesses run by themselves without me being there?

Dedicate

"And can I give it a year and see what way it works and how well I play? You look at those players. They are still good players on what they have done already so how much better can they get? Time will tell."

On paper, Lacey et al should benefit from being able to dedicate more of their time to their sport. McMahon reckons the game would benefit too from a full-time approach.

"The sport could be much better if it was professional. Think about it. The training would be more, you'd probably eat better and we'd be thinking about the sport more too.

"If you developed that at a young age, I think the sport could go to another level. Definitely. That's what most professional sports have done."

There are downsides to pursing sport on a full-time basis, he warns. Through his work with Shamrock Rovers, he trained players who were signed on both a full-time and part-time basis. Finding a life balance is crucial.

"You could probably spend a bit more time doing your own stuff. But because at county level you are training so much sometimes it's good to be working because it takes your mind off things. The psychology part of it, it would help massively.

"I've dealt with soccer players in Ireland that are playing at a professional level and the ones that work hard and have the great attitudes are the ones that work as well.

"The players who have part-time jobs, their attitude is always about work ethic and they have an attitude that they want to work for the team.

"I'm not saying the other players are lazy but they are sitting on their arse all day so when they come to training their body is still asleep."

For now, McMahon has eyes only for the championship. More medals, he's hoping, await this year. It all comes at a cost though. Last year he was offered the chance to train a fully professional team in League Two in England.

But, he couldn't take it up as the post started in August and interfered with Dublin's campaign. Ultimately, that's the kind of job he'd like to have down the line. But, like many other things, it will have to wait. "You won't know (what you've missed out on) until you look back on your career and see what you have done," he said.

"I think the best thing about GAA is when you look at other sports, professional sports, and unless you are at the top of your game and are making a lot of money they don't have a lot after they finish playing. GAA is a different story. Lads would have really good careers.

"You sacrifice a lot and wonder how much more money you could be making or what else could you be doing.

"You wonder how far would you be along in terms of your goals in business if you could spend more time on it.

"But it's nice to have the balance, you can't just always focus and money and business."

However, former Derry star Joe Brolly yesterday spoke out against the latest trend on independent.ie and believes it's time for the GAA to intervene.

"Players are unpaid professionals now," he stated. "It's the point I have been making for some time, players are now caught up in a professional system that has no regard for their healthy development as human beings."

Irish Independent

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