'You can't expect not to be challenged' - Dublin's Philly McMahon hits back at Eamonn Fitzmaurice claims
All-Star defender denies Dubs fouled Donaghy out of final
Published 27/04/2016 | 02:30
At this stage, Philly McMahon has been the eye of enough storms to know what to expect.
He accepts that some negative attention is bound to come with the territory he has marked out for himself as Dublin's teak tough defender.
At times he's come down on the wrong side of the rules and made no apologies for it. After a clash with Kieran Donaghy in last year's All-Ireland final, he came back hard at his critics.
"If I get all these accusations against me and I win an All-Ireland, I don't give a s**t, to be honest."
So when Eamonn Fitzmaurice produced his 'rape and pillage' comment in reference to Kieran Donaghy's treatment during the game, McMahon might have been expected to be in the middle of things.
Not so, says the Ballymun Kickhams man, who was detailed with shadowing Colm Cooper for the afternoon.
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"I only got one chance to tackle Kieran Donaghy in the first half when the ball came in and he got a free," he commented.
"Apart from that, I don't know. I can't remember off the top of my head the challenges (Fitzmaurice was referring to).
"I might have been off the pitch at that stage. So I don't know.
"This is a physical sport. You can't expect not to be challenged. And if he felt that was what was going on … well, that's his opinion."
McMahon missed the first game of this year's league arising from that clash with Donaghy in last year's decider. If he's a marked man for referees this year, he's trying to adapt to that. And he pointed out that bar the black card in the win over Mayo, he's kept his name out of the notebooks.
"The referee (Eddie Kinsella) was very good on Sunday. It was the first time I've ever heard a referee saying to a forward, 'Keep your hands down as well'.
"I found him very good. The umpires were very good. They've a tough enough job.
"It would be hypocritical for me to come out and say they're bad. Or that I'm the easy target for them.
"But it makes you become a better player if that's the case. If there's more focus on you as a defender, you should be trying to work on your skills without trying to foul a player.
"So I definitely didn't notice it in the game last weekend. I got a black card against Mayo and after that, I haven't really been booked since that."
McMahon went into last Sunday's game carrying the 'flu but still managed a strong shift as he looks to build on a career-best showing in 2015.
Last term was the first time he started right the way through an All-Ireland winning season and he has targeted a similar goal this term.
"I think you can get ahead of yourself," McMahon commented at the launch of the 2016 John West Feile.
"Standards go up a little bit because you've achieved that but I thought at the start of the year, do the goals change? Probably not. But when you're on the pitch the standards change I think.
"Off the pitch you want to just get that jersey and if you start thinking of, 'I want to play, I want to be the best player on the team, the best player in the country', whatever it is, you'll find it very hard to get that jersey because you're not focusing on the smaller things and that's what I've kind of peeled back a little bit.
"I've definitely seen players over the years that have maybe won player of the year or they've done really well and the year after that they've struggled because they're trying to go beyond what they did the year before and I think you can't go beyond that unless you've got the basics right first.
"So my plan is to try and compete for the jersey first and improve my standards of what I did in every game."
And McMahon is confident Dublin's defence can stand up to the rigours of championship despite the loss of Rory O'Carroll and Jack McCaffrey (above).
"There is no doubt that the two lads that left are really good defenders. They brought massive quality to the team.
"We have to look at who else we have, the boys that have come in to do the job so far have done a really good job.
"We obviously would love to have them there, but the players that have come in, it is up to them to step up to the plate to bring it on."
McMahon admits the dismissal of Aidan O'Mahony was a significant moment in the game but believes Dublin had the edge in the main.
"What we were looking to do was play to our capabilities for the whole game and not just for duration of the game," he offered.
"It felt like we were in control and that we were sticking to our plan and processes and the sending-off changed the dynamic of the game and we kicked off after that."