Monday 18 December 2017

'I caught a flying elbow. That day was like a warzone' - The All-Ireland final that helped shape Philly McMahon

22 September 2013; Philip McMahon, Dublin, is tackled by Cillian O'Connor, Mayo. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
22 September 2013; Philip McMahon, Dublin, is tackled by Cillian O'Connor, Mayo. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Two-time All Star Philly McMahon is now one of Dublin's chief enforcers, and in a new book the ferocious defender describes how he rose to the occasion after being thrown into the 2013 All-Ireland final that was like a 'warzone'.

The tenacious corner back made his debut for Dublin in 2008, and despite winning an All-Ireland medal off the bench in 2011, was still looking to prove himself as an inter-county regular in 2013.

After impressing as a substitute in the All-Ireland semi-final win over Kerry, Dublin manager Jim Gavin placed his faith in McMahon for the decider against Mayo.

In his new book, The Choice, extracts of which appear in today's Sunday World, McMahon explains how he looked to quieten Mayo's key forward Cillian O'Connor.

"When Jim picked the team for the final, I was back in as the only change. What a time to be making your first start of the season," McMahon says.

"I broke from the parade and jogged down to the Canal End to take up my position on Cillian O'Connor. Battle lines drawn.

"Within in the first few minutes I knew I was sharp.

"All I wanted to do was keep him off the ball as much as I could and when he did get on the ball, keep him scoreless.

"He kicked a good few frees but he didn't score anything off me from play."

Dublin pipped Mayo by a point in a dramatic finale, and the physicality of the contest still stands out to McMahon all these years later.

"That day in particular was a warzone, men laid out all over the place," McMahon says.

"I got caught by a flying elbow underneath my eye and the whole eye swelled out. There was around 20 minutes left and Jonny Cooper got a bad knock and had to go off. Concussion. Eoghan O'Gara could barely move.

"He was after doing some bad damage to his hamstring and all he could really do was sit on the edge of the square and tie one of their players up.

"Rory O'Carroll went down after a big collision. He got up and played on, but it turned out afterwards he had a concussion too."

Read the full extracts of Philly McMahon's new book, The Choice, in today's Sunday World.

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