Sunday 21 January 2018

Small set for big future with the Dubs - McMahon

Philly McMahon (pictured) believes that Dublin have Ger Brennan's ideal long-term replacement in John Small
Philly McMahon (pictured) believes that Dublin have Ger Brennan's ideal long-term replacement in John Small
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Ger Brennan won't play for Dublin this year but Philly McMahon believes Dublin have the ideal long-term replacement in his Ballymun Kickhams clubmate John Small.

Small has been one of the new faces to have forced his way into Jim Gavin's championship side this year and started the Leinster clashes against both Longford and Kildare.

His place in defence for the Leinster final was taken by another Ballymun man in James McCarthy with Cian O'Sullivan restored to the number six shirt.

And while he faces a huge task to dislodge either of those ahead of Dublin's All-Ireland quarter-final, McMahon has backed Small to play a big role for the Dubs both this season and in the future.

"He's got a great attitude and he's got great hunger," McMahon said. "He got a little bit of a taste of inter-county football years ago and then all of a sudden it was taken from him,

"He was back with the club. Had a little bit of a dip. But that's what made him into the player he is today and what he is today.

"You've only seen little glimpses of him but I'm sure, when he gets the opportunity, you'll see the real ability he has."

Brennan's organisational skills were missed when Dublin crashed out to Donegal in last year's All-Ireland semi-final but McMahon believes it's up to the rest of the team to fill that role.

"Ger was a great talker on the pitch. A great organiser as well. It's something that I suppose, every player around has to try and do a little bit more of, especially the way the game is going. Especially for me, I'm big into coaching so I love seeing the game change.

"So having players around having to up their game and be a little bit better, it has to be good for the game in general."

Dublin are ramping up for a last eight clash against on the August Bank Holiday weekend against one of Cork, Kildare or Fermanagh after an easy run through Leinster.

But McMahon won't be offering that as an excuse if they are tripped up as the competition moves into its business end. "At this stage of the season, you take whoever you get," he reasoned. "It's not as if you want to go the easy route. It's great that you don't know who you're playing.

"You have to prepare as well as you can. It's going to be interesting next week to see who comes through that round and who we could take on and hopefully have a good performance against.

"A lot of people say Leinster is not (good preparation) but they don't know. They're generally not players. And I think anybody who has been in a province that they've won and a lot of people think they've won it comfortably, they don't know what they're talking about.

"Because the preparation is really hard. You're going in. You're competing hard. If you think you're playing an easy team, your team-mate is going to come in and take your spot.

"Your preparation has to be 100pc all the time. Your standards have to be 100pc all the time. That's the difference between good players and very good players."

Elsewhere, Jim McCorry can plan ahead for a second season in charge of Down, but only just after surviving a county board vote which saw him win the contest 22-20 following a number abstentions. His role was put in doubt after a stormy county board meeting two weeks ago, which saw a number of heated contributions from the floor.

Irish Independent

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