Friday 23 February 2018

Philly McMahon took ban to avoid season 'dragging on' too long

Dublin’s Philly McMahon has been named the GAA writers’ personality of the year
Dublin’s Philly McMahon has been named the GAA writers’ personality of the year
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Dublin's Philly McMahon has said he accepted his one-match ban for the incident with Kerry's Kieran Donaghy in the All-Ireland final because he didn't want it to "overshadow" what the team achieved in 2015.

McMahon was charged by the Central Competition Controls Committee with a Category Three offence that covers behaviour deemed to be dangerous to an opponent. He will miss the opening league match against Kerry in late January.

"The season is over now and we didn't want to drag it on. We didn't want it to overshadow what we've achieved this year. That's what it's about more than anything, winning the All-Ireland," he said.

"It was just a small incident in the game, there could have been 101 incidents from the day that could have been slowed down shot by shot and made big issues out of. But look, it's done and dusted now. We're moving on, just enjoying what we've achieved and reflecting on the year."

McMahon was speaking ahead of the Gaelic Writers Association awards in Dublin tonight at which he will receive the 'football personality of the year' accolade.

McMahon courted much controversy this season with his approach to man-marking but his performances from corner-back against some of the game's biggest names and his community work in his native Ballymun have made it a special year for him. McMahon is determined to use his growing profile as a footballer to promote the work he does around Ballymun.

He told a story from a recent visit with the Sam Maguire cup that resonated with him, illustrating what he feels is the low self-esteem that locals can sometimes feel.

"I had the Sam Maguire a couple of weeks ago and I was coming in the door, the kids were all running around the place and they wouldn't even have passed notice of me only for they saw the cup," he recalled. "Then I was going to do a speech in a youth centre and, as I was walking out of the house, one of those kids came over to me and said, 'You're a famous footballer'.

"I was initially about to say 'no' but in my head I was thinking, 'Should I say I am or should I say I'm not.'

"When your profile goes up I suppose you want to be a bit of a role model to kids like that, so 'yeah, maybe I am a famous footballer.'

"But his next sentence was amazing to me, it stopped me in my tracks. He said, 'But you're from Ballymun, you can't be famous.'

"I sat down on the path, just where I had the car parked. I couldn't believe it. I spent about ten minutes speaking with the kid - it probably looked a little bit weird, but I just wanted to talk with him.

"It just shows you the low self-esteem the kids in the area have. Definitely, I've noticed that a lot of people in the area have recognised me a bit more than what they would have.

"But I suppose that's good for the area, it's good for the kids, it's good for them to see that there is somebody from their area winning All-Irelands and on the TV and things like that.


"I think that's what this year has helped me do, it has helped me build up a little bit of a profile. It's not something I initially wanted to do - I just wanted to play football.

"But if it helps people, if it can be used positively to help others, then that has to be good. We don't take anything for granted as Dublin players. We are very lucky to do what we do."

McMahon is looking forward to challenging for a place on Joe Kernan's International Rules squad in the coming weeks.

"I've loved it. My first time down with them was last week. I can't go this week because of a fundraiser I have on. But I love the speed of the game, I love the physical side of it and I'm hoping to get down and do a couple of more sessions and be involved for the game itself."

Irish Independent

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