Monday 22 January 2018

REVEALED - Philly McMahon on what he said to Colm Cooper at the end of heated All-Ireland Final

McMahon makes no apology for abrasive style

Philly McMahon (left) speaking to Kerry's Colm Cooper
Philly McMahon (left) speaking to Kerry's Colm Cooper
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Philly McMahon has made no apologies about the type of player he is and admitted yesterday that he is indifferent to yet another storm that has blown up around him in the wake of Dublin's All-Ireland triumph over Kerry.

McMahon, the champions' undoubted revelation of the season, denies that he deliberately eye-gouged Kieran Donaghy as Dublin were defending their line late in Sunday's final. He said it was never his intention to make contact with the Kerry captain's eye but accepted it looked bad on TV.

Following on from allegations that he attempted to head-butt Mayo's Aidan O'Shea in the drawn All-Ireland semi-final - allegations that he has since denied and didn't warrant a charge - McMahon was fighting more fires early yesterday in the Gibson Hotel as he basked in the glow of a third All-Ireland title.

He said the latest accusations against him were "part of the game that I have to accept" before adding "if I get all these accusations against me and I win an All-Ireland, I don't give a s***".

McMahon put the squeeze on Colm Cooper throughout the match, holding him scoreless and taking him to areas of the field where the eight-time All-Star just wasn't comfortable.


Cooper was visibly unhappy with elements of McMahon's policing and the Ballymun man acknowledged there was a brief stand-off at the final whistle but denied there was a refusal to shake hands.

At the end of the Mayo replay there had been no handshake between O'Shea and McMahon.

"There was a little bit of a stand-off," he said in relation to Cooper. "We spoke then and I said, 'This is the way that I play football, this is what you have to do to win a game. I am going to do what I can to beat you and you are going to do what you can to beat me.'

"And he said, 'fair enough', and then we shook hands," said McMahon.

He admitted he always took a 'war-like' approach to games. "It's a tough game, playing as a defender and I've so much respect for defenders, and especially Dublin defenders. When we step up and we mark, we look the man in the eye and we're saying, 'We're going to war today, me and you, and let's see who comes out on the top end'.

"We don't have seven or eight men in our defence supporting us, we go man-on-man and go to war. That's what I love about the set-up we have and it really does make you want to be better as a defender."

His defence against the eye-gouging claims is based on lack of intent and poor conditions. "I don't have to say how the conditions were yesterday and when the ball dropped, I went in to put my hand in and there was no intention to go for his face.

"He's a big man to get around. I couldn't even see if the ball was there the second time I went in. But there was no intention there, and I'm sure the officials saw that as well," he said. "Look, this is Gaelic football, we get stuck into each other when the whistle is blown and we shake hands after it. But definitely no intention in what I did there."

McMahon admitted he was "delighted" when informed late last week that he would be picking up Cooper.

"It is kind of an honour to be told that you are going to mark one of their key forwards and a man like Colm Cooper is someone I would have high respect for.

"We wanted Kerry to play well, we wanted the other teams to play well because it raises the bar for us.

"Marking Colm was great, it made me think outside the box, it made me a better player before the game and it made me a better player on the day."

McMahon said he put a lot of thought into how he would approach it and made a conscious decision to try and put him on the back foot as much as possible.

"I don't think Colm Cooper has been a great footballer playing defence. It was one thing I thought about going into the game when I was doing my homework; who was I possibly going to be marking and that was one thing that I thought that I could do. Put him on the back-foot and see what he is like defensively.

"I've really enjoyed marking players this year. I may be wrong but I don't think I've marked a man who has scored more than a point off me. So it's been a really successful year, this year."

McMahon says his game has been helped by the standard of internal games that Dublin consistently play. "We said this year the only team that's going to compete against us is ourselves, the A's and B's. And the second best team in the country this year was our B team."

He hopes that his success will have an effect on the people of Ballymun where he hails from and will highlight the ongoing work and fundraising he is doing for the John Caffrey Scholarship fund, named after his late brother which helps to get 18- to 24-year-olds in the area off the live register and back to college and into sport.

"You sub-consciously help people by winning the All-Ireland. People around the Ballymun GAA community will be buzzing now, more kids will be going to Ballymun Kickhams and other clubs around the area," he said.

"Obviously that's going to save people's lives (stop them) from going other ways, wrong ways in their lives and that's very important. What I'm trying to do is help people who aren't involved in sport, that maybe didn't get that chance at a younger age to go and take up a sport.

"It's the people who are struggling for help, probably the people that are struggling with the law, maybe people who are struggling with drug addiction. Whatever it is that they're struggling with in their lives, hopefully we can provide something that will get them back on the road to having a career path."

Irish Independent

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