Saturday 22 October 2016

Philly McMahon demands change as he launches attack on 'inconsistent' black card

Michael Verney

Published 04/10/2016 | 02:30

McMahon: Dubs upped their game. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
McMahon: Dubs upped their game. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

The benefits of sobriety were clear for all to see as a bright-eyed Philly McMahon made his way to meet a herd of reporters the morning after securing his fourth All-Ireland medal.

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While the bulk of his team-mates were feeling alcoholic after-effects, the delirium of back-to-back Sam Maguire successes was still sinking in for him.

Doubted in many quarters after underperforming in the drawn final, the Dubs made no mistake at the second time of asking to take their place among the greats, including their 1976/77 counterparts in sky blue.

Regarded as an invincible force before the first game, many suggested that they were a fading superpower in the build-up to the rematch but it never bothered the Ballymun Kickhams defender, who outlined how Jim Gavin helped "up their game" for the replay.

"The management team and the backroom team were immense over the last two weeks. We really noticed that they upped their game so we had to up our game for them on the day," he said.

"We came back here to the hotel after the last game and none of us wanted to be here, we just wanted to go home, recover the body and get going for the next day.

"All the players looked in the mirror. The old saying, 'Look in the mirror instead of looking out the window', so a lot of lads did that and we're just lucky that we had a chance and didn't have to wait 12 months to get going again.

"I'm sure everybody else in the country would have liked to see a new county winning the All-Ireland. We had all that against us. The boys showed great character."

Having duked it out with Mayo for over 160 minutes, McMahon has sympathy for the Westerners' final heartbreak but with a visit to Temple Street Children's Hospital on his radar, sport is brought back to reality.

Players committing their lives to Gaelic football and seeing their time to shine going up in smoke because of a black card doesn't sit well with him, however, and while acknowledging the pressure on referees, he feels change is needed.

Jonny Cooper's day lasted just 20 minutes because of the controversial card and after suffering the same fate after just three minutes of the league encounter with Mayo this year, McMahon knows the pain he was going through.

"It's just the players' point of view. We're travelling. . . you do a big hard pre-season in the cold weather. We're putting so much time into it and working on top of that, travel up to Mayo, four hours, your family travels up to see you play and you last three minutes on the pitch, and you're sitting in the stand going, 'What is this all about like?'

"I'm trying to represent the sport, this organisation, what's it doing for me if I'm sitting in the stand after three minutes after maybe a mistake or maybe an accidental collision, whatever it is? It's just so broad, it's not consistent.

"It's really tough on the referees to be making the decision. They've got enough to be worrying about. In fairness to them they've done well but I feel for the players on All-Ireland final day not getting their full game-time.

"You want to play every minute. The All-Ireland I played in 2011, I was absolutely over the moon that I won the game but I was disappointed I didn't play the whole duration; Jonny was the same."

While the idea of successive All-Ireland titles never registered in his head, McMahon can now finally sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labours, and the extra satisfaction of winning 100 years after the Easter Rising.

"There's not many people now apart from all the Dublin players that can say they have 1916 on the back of their All-Ireland medal," he said. "I suppose it's different when you've done it (two-in-a-row). You can say it now. It's not something that you speak much about before it. It's not something that we actually tried to do.

"It's just win every game, and you can tell by the run we're on at the minute. Now that we've won it, it's an amazing thing to say, that you've done back-to-back. It's a really good feeling."

Irish Independent

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