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McMahon: I didn't see us as being underdogs

A COUPLE of years have passed since Ballymun Kickhams qualified for the final of Celebrity Bainisteoir. Maybe they would have been better candidates for that RTé precursor, The Underdogs.

The bookies had made up their minds beforehand, with the Dublin champions generously offered at 2/1 to topple Dr Crokes. Most of the media were inclined to agree. But Philly McMahon wasn't listening.

"I'm sure everybody would have thought it would have been a Dr Crokes/Crossmaglen (final) – I never did," countered the Dublin defender. "At this stage of the competition anybody can win ... I always kept my eyes open to the four teams that were left."

Now there are two, Ballymun joined by Cross' conquerors St Brigid's, and March 17 will be a battle of the erstwhile Underdogs.

Given the success of the ploy in Thurles, the presumption must be that McMahon will continue in his new midfield role. Then again, Paul Curran caught most outsiders on the hop with the player's redeployment on Saturday night, so who's to say he won't have another tactical trick up his sleeve the next day.

"In ways, my hand was forced on that one because Seán George has been very patient and, I mean, he's a quality player – this fella will play with the county this year, I'm sure," Curran predicted.

"He didn't really get much game time in the Leinster championship because the team was winning and we just didn't want to change this. But we've had a break and he's been outstanding in training, so him going in at full-back meant we needed to have a look at another place for Philly. And we know he can play out the field – he wants to play out the field."

A point reinforced by the player himself, who declared: "Well, I love playing football, who doesn't? You play corner-back for so long; it's great to get out and play more football. I just do my job, what I'm told to. If he's to put me in full-back, corner-back or even full-forward, I'll do a job hopefully."

Collectively, the Ballymun defence did its job with a fifth consecutive clean sheet – the last championship goal conceded came in a county semi-final against St Jude's last October.

"And we had to save a penalty to keep that record," Curran reminded. "It was a very important save from Seán (Currie), maybe a game-changer in many ways. I think if they'd scored they might have kicked on."

At the other end, Ted Furman maintained his own prolific goal streak but his manager wants even more from the 2010 All-Ireland U21 winner.

"Ted is a man to score goals, but I think Ted needs to bring something else to it as well. I don't think it was a particularly good game from Ted. He worked hard enough, but I think there's more in him and hopefully we'll get that out of him the next day," he concluded.