Sunday 4 December 2016

'Teams doing their homework on my attacking' - Philly McMahon

Michael Verney

Published 28/07/2016 | 02:30

Philly McMahon on Portmarnock beach yesterday to promote AIG’s new online offer for travel insurance. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Philly McMahon on Portmarnock beach yesterday to promote AIG’s new online offer for travel insurance. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

While Dublin's next opponents are battling it out in Croke Park on Saturday night, Philly McMahon will be busy helping with a fundraiser for 'Batman Ben', a five-year-old Dub who is bravely battling cancer.

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Renowned as a hard man on the pitch, McMahon displays a different personality off it and is regularly heralded for his work with struggling youths. It's clear to see the Ballymun Kickhams defender has a lot more going on in his life than just football.

His BeDo7 gyms are booming while his FitFood business, which offers an affordable healthy food delivery service, is gathering momentum and a restaurant is in the pipeline within the next 18 months.

For him, the Dubs is a hobby he gives everything to when inside the camp environment but it doesn't define him with all homework on opposition teams done within the confines of Jim Gavin's training sessions.

Balance

The 28-year-old seems to have found an ideal work/football balance, something many other inter-county players struggle with, while the Dublin GAA network has helped enormously with his business endeavours.

McMahon relishes a challenge and with a Division 1 team now awaiting Dublin for the first time in this year's championship, he feels they are building momentum as they move towards the final stages of the year despite not impressing as much during their Leinster run as in previous years.

"Every game we play we try to step up anyway. It's not that we start so low or that our intensity is so low at the beginning of the year. It's just that as the year goes on we start to become physically better and tactically and technically better as well," he said.

"We're going to be playing one of three Division 1 teams that are left and they are teams that definitely have potential and want to win things as well. They will be tough teams to prepare for. It's exciting because that's what you want. You want to be challenged."

McMahon has been substituted against both Kerry (league final) and Laois (Leinster quarter-final) already this year but as with anything, lessons have been learned as he bids for another stellar season.

Having been one of the stand-out players last year, shortlisted for Footballer of the Year and taking an All-Star at corner-back, teams are putting more time into planning how to curb his surging attacks from the back.

"There were a couple of areas that I knew I had to work on so I didn't need anybody to tell me or the coaches to tell me. It is a little bit different to the way I played last year," he said.

"There are a lot more teams doing their homework on me going forward and being that threat from defence. The dynamics have changed a good bit with Paul Murphy marking me in the league.

"The centre half-forward is marking a corner-back, which is a bit strange. I was marking (Colm) Cooper in the league final and when I was going out he was marking me. That was obviously something they looked at from the All-Ireland final last year.

"The must've said, 'If their corner-backs are attacking, do we have somebody in our forwards that can defend?'. It's another challenge for us to kind of switch it up and see what we can do to counteract that."

After claiming Sam Maguire last year, he admits there's a "target on your back" but despite the absence of Rory O'Carroll and Jack McCaffrey from defence, he doesn't envisage any change as the Dublin train continues to steam forward once again.

"We never had a defensive system based around two players - it's based around the whole team from our forwards back - so it doesn't change if two players are not there."

Irish Independent

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