‘Can you take him to a zone where his nervous system is shot?’ – Philly McMahon on Dublin’s David Clifford battle

David Clifford of Kerry is tackled by Dublin players Philip McMahon and Cormac Costello during the 2019 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final replay at Croke Park. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

Philly McMahon has urged his former teammates to get into Kerry talisman David Clifford’s head during Sunday's eagerly-awaited All-Ireland football semi-final.

The ex-Dublin man was speaking on the latest episode of The Throw-In, Independent.ie’s GAA podcast ahead of the game and pointed to a previous interview as a possible route to stopping the Fossa man, who has 1-7 to his name in his two Championship games so far this summer.

“I remember listening to an interview he did and there was something he said that stuck out in my head,” McMahon explained.

“He said for skill execution, you have to be in a calm state of mind. So there's something in that that I would get after.

“If it’s verbals or if it’s something physically, when someone called someone confronts you, you get adrenaline. You get these kind of jitters and you're kind of thinking of something else.

“Now, this is very scientific but can you stress that fella’s nervous system? Can you take him to a zone where his nervous system is shot and it's going what's going on here?”

However, having previously admitted his own regret at never having the opportunity to mark Clifford during his own playing days, McMahon also expressed his doubts in terms of the current panel having the tools for that kind of psychological warfare, with Cuala’s Mick Fitzsimons his favourite to be given the task.

“I think that's the piece but I don't think Dublin have that player,” he continued

“I don’t know who Dessie’s gonna put on him, if it was me I’d probably put Mick Fitz on him. Mick Fitz is a really good tight marker but I’m not sure if he’s in the space of getting into a psychological battle with his marker.

“But I do think there’s an area there that if there’s any merit in saying he has to be calm to execute his skills, because he’s one of the most skilful players in the game, then stress that.”