Sport Gaelic Football

Saturday 18 November 2017

We've learned hard way how to defend Sam – McMahon

Sean Dunnion, Donegal County Chairman
Sean Dunnion, Donegal County Chairman
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

PHILLY McMahon's life revolves around sport but he's not complaining about the workload on GAA players.

The teak-tough Ballymun Kickhams and Dublin defender believes that there's only limited time to enjoy an inter-county career and he's prepared to pay the price.

Anyway, if he wasn't playing for the Dubs, McMahon would be engaged in some kind of physical activity, possibly in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), which is one of his hobbies.

On the business front he is Shamrock Rovers' strength-and-conditioning coach, and runs BK Strength and Conditioning, which caters for elite performance athletes along with the general public.

Professional footballers like Aston Villa's Enda Stevens and up-and-coming boxers are among his clientele, and McMahon's services are very much in demand.

There is, however, one man who he very much wants to call on him for duty, and that is Dublin manager Jim Gavin.

A starting place in the Dubs line-up for league and championship is the aim, but it's not easily achieved given the competition in the squad.

In that respect, McMahon could be grateful for the couple of opportunities he got to operate in the forwards during Dublin's O'Byrne Cup outings.

Speaking at the AIG pre-league launch of Dublin's season, McMahon said: "It was different in terms of getting on the ball more than I'm used to, so it was great. I'll play anywhere I can get a jersey so it was a good experience.

"Being a defender playing up front definitely helps, because you know where to run and which moves you don't like as a defender yourself."

Jim Gavin doesn't do reputations, so being a member of an All-Ireland-winning back line in 2013 won't cut any ice for this year. McMahon knows all about that and is ready for the challenge.

"There's always going to be that competition for a place," he said. "If someone's playing well in the full-back line and I don't play well, it's going to be hard to get a place in the backs. So if you get a chance of a jersey, you do your best to hold on to it."

Whatever about holding on to a jersey, holding on to Sam Maguire is the challenge facing Dublin this year. It's a challenge they could not meet successfully two seasons ago, but they look well equipped in terms of personnel and depth of squad. Lessons will also be learned from 2012.

"I'm sure the lads that were there in 2011 and in 2012 will understand what it takes now this year to try and go for it again," said McMahon.

"It's down to the players now to realise that it takes a lot more to go for it a second time and retain it.

"Sometimes we don't like saying it's about retaining something, it's about going for it again. It's in our hands to go and get it again instead of trying to hold on to it.

"All the players, and especially the players that were there in 2011 and 2012, know that the standards have to be much higher.

"Hopefully we can bring the lads that haven't experienced that with us, and push them on to achieving that this year."

* KILCOCK GAA club will host a 'Night with the Stars' in their clubhouse on Saturday at 8.0. Anthony Daly, Kevin McStay, Glenn Ryan and Diarmuid 'Gizzy' Lyng will be grilled on all things GAA by legendary commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh. Tickets are still available for just €20 from the club.

Irish Independent

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