Sunday 21 January 2018

Philly McMahon: Dublin management haven’t ordered me to tone it down

Dublin defender Philly McMahon
Dublin defender Philly McMahon

Tom Rooney

Philly McMahon has revealed that the Dublin management have never told him to curtail his abrasive style of play.

The Dublin defender has arguably been the most polarizing figure of the 2015 Championship as his sublime defensive performances for the Dubs in the both All-Ireland semi-finals and the final have been somewhat overshadowed by allegations of serious foul play.

While the Ballymun man was a pivotal figure for Dublin as they clinched their third Sam Maguire in five years, his conduct has been called into question amid accusations that he head-butted Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea and eye-gouged Kerry captain Kieran Donaghy in the final.

However, speaking to Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 today, the 28-year-old claimed that Dublin manager Jim Gavin is yet to instruct him to tone down his aggressive side. Furthermore, McMahon told listeners that he appreciated the faith shown by the manager when entrusting him with marking two of the game’s most potent forwards, O’Shea and Colm Cooper, both of whom he out-scored.

“They trust in my capabilities to do a job for the team,” he said, “and they ask me to go and do it, and that’s what I do. Thankfully I’ve had a really good year and I’ve really enjoyed it.

“Colm Cooper is probably one of the best footballing forwards in my generation, so to be given the chance to mark him and keep him scoreless was a massive thing for me – the same with Aidan O’Shea.”

Read more: Comment: Attention-seeking Joe Brolly wide of mark about Gooch

When asked about the verbal exchange he had with Cooper as the sides made their way to the dressing rooms, McMahon said it was of little consequence. Furthermore, he believes it was his marauding runs into the Kerry half which limited the ‘Gooch’s’ impact.

“I’ve played in an awful lot rougher games (than the All-Ireland Final). I got up the pitch a lot and took him out of his comfort zone in front of the goal, so he’s not going to be any danger in front of his own goal.

“I said to him, ‘Look, you play your style of football and I play my style of football,’ and then we shook hands.”

Yet, there are certain voices within the game that have vocalised their belief that McMahon is undeserving of winning Football of the Year, an award many have tipped him for in light his consistent displays. For him, though, the condemnation of others or, indeed, individual trinkets, are of little consequence.

“These are people’s opinions, and there’s very little I can do about them. I go out to play football and, thankfully, the way I’ve played, people are talking about me getting Man of the Matches and Player of the Year awards. Those personal accolades don’t mean very much to me unless I do my job for the team,” he said.

When asked about his experiences growing up in Ballymun, the defender remembered a largely happy time, and went on to say that the suburb has often been unfairly characterised.

Read more: Eamonn Sweeney: Philly McMahon - Revealing a hero behind the villain

“Ballymun was amazing. I was only driving through it the other day and reflecting back what it used to look like. It was a brilliant place; it was a very tight community.

“It had, obviously, the flats and the towers, but we had a lot of greenery. In the summer time it would be great, because everybody knew each other in the field and be out there having fun.

“Every area has these issues. There’s a really bad stigma to Ballymun, and that’s led to youth in the area having low self-esteem. I’ve tried to negate some of that, by showing that it is a good area and good people can come from it.”

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