Sunday 26 May 2019

‘I was embarrassed when people called him a junkie’- Dublin star Philly McMahon opens up about his brother’s battle with addiction

Dublin’s Philly McMahon
Dublin’s Philly McMahon

Patricia Murphy

Dublin footballer Philly McMahon has opened about his older brother’s struggle with addiction and said Ireland’s attitude towards addicts needs to change to help those in need.

The GAA star (28) lost his older brother John in 2012 after a long battle with addiction and said his death changed him as a person and altered his attitude towards addicts.

“John was an amazing person,” Philly told The Nicky Byrne Show on 2FM.

“Not a lot of people or society sees that about drug addicts. They don’t see it that it’s someone’s brother, someone’s son.

“All they see is this person who is lower than me because they’re on drugs. It’s a stigma that needs to change,” he said.

The All-Ireland winner from Ballymun revealed that John’s addiction sometimes embarrassed him when he was growing up, but many of his happiest memories are times he spend with John, who died aged 31.

Philip McMahon
Philip McMahon

“When I was growing up it was tough. When I was younger and I was embarrassed by friends and other people calling my brother a junkie,” said Philly.

Philly admitted it was John who spurred his successful career and said he would have loved to see him lift the Sam Maguire last September.

“I’m trying to live his legacy. John shaped me to who I am today. People often ask me how I started to play football and it was because of him,” he said.

Speaking to The Irish Independent in September, Philly said he hopes he can play a part in changing Ireland's attitude towards addicts.

"John had an addiction problem most of his life and he didn't have any opportunity like this, that's why I'm trying to provide it for other kids," his brother explains.

"Two years before he passed away he was clean, he came off drugs. He lived in London. He missed the 2011 All-Ireland final and when we reached the 2012 semi-final we were hoping he'd come home because he was clean and doing great. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple of weeks later. You don't realise how much an influence he had until he passed away. Now I want to explain to people how they should treat people who are on drugs, show them that there is that extra bit of support that my brother didn't have.

"John has been a massive influence for me. He pushed me the opposite way to his path. Even though he was struggling with drugs he pushed me with the football."

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