History counts for little in Dubs clash with Mayo - McMahon
HISTORY is firmly on Dublin’s side as they prepare for an All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Mayo, but experienced defender Philly McMahon is taking that with a pinch of salt.
For starters, Dublin hammered Mayo in their most recent competitive encounter – a 14-point NFL win in March – while they also overcome the westerners in the 2013 All-Ireland final. Equally significant is the fact Mayo have been painfully unable to shut down strong forward lines in recent years with high profile defeats to Donegal in 2012, Dublin the following year and Kerry last season.
But McMahon is adamant that this is a different, more defensively savvy Mayo team, a suggestion apparently backed up by their ruthless dispatching of Donegal last weekend at Croke Park. McMahon certainly isn’t expecting anything like a repeat of the League encounter earlier this year when the sides renew acquaintances on August 30.
“We’d played a couple of teams before that League game and they were all very defensive,” said McMahon.
“Mayo decided to go very offensive against us and left a lot of space at the back. It just clicked nicely in that game for us but they are not going to do anything like that now, there’s no way it’ll happen. Even though we beat them well that day, they probably learned a massive amount about how we play and how they play themselves.
“Obviously they’ve proved that they have changed because they’ve got to an All-Ireland semi-final so I don’t think we can expect what they did that day to happen again in the semi-final.”
Interestingly, both Dublin and Mayo come to the semi-final showdown as five in-a-row provincial champions. Dublin, crucially, have stashed two All-Ireland wins away in that period while Mayo are still chasing their dream.
“Would I be getting desperate if I was them? I wouldn’t be getting desperate, I’d say I’d be getting more hungry,” said the Ballymun Kickham’s clubman.
“We lost the 2010 semi-final and won it in 2011, so you get to that stage where you say, ‘right, what do we need to do when we get to the (final)... I suppose experience is massive, isn’t it? I’d say they’ve only grown in terms of experience after their losses.”
Both Dublin and Mayo are regarded as stylists of the game though some huge hits were exchanged in that 2013 All-Ireland decider. McMahon was left with a bruised eye and subsequent scarring while Rory O’Carroll and Jonny Cooper suffered concussion and Eoghan O’Gara tore his hamstring. McMahon isn’t convinced it’ll be a hard-hitting grudge match when they meet again, however.
“I actually didn’t find it overly physical to be honest, I did get a bang, an elbow, and I was left with a little scar for it but it was a typical All-Ireland final, I thought,” said McMahon.
“The other one I played in [against Kerry in 2011] was probably more physical. It’s normally the backs giving out the bumps and the bruises but we took them for the team in 2013. It was all to get the piece of tin I suppose.”
McMahon maintained he didn’t harbour private hopes of meeting Donegal again at the penultimate stage in light of last year’s high-profile loss to Jim McGuinness’ team.
“I honestly wouldn’t have minded either,” he said.
“People might have said Donegal because they beat us last year but, definitely not. We just want to beat whoever comes in front of us now, to win two more games and take whatever comes at us.”
McMahon said his real motivation stems from a desire to win an All-Ireland as a first team regular all through the summer, something he didn’t manage in 2011 or 2013.
“That’s something that hopefully this year or the year after I’ll get the chance to do,” he said.
“I’d really like to play all the games throughout a campaign and win an All-Ireland. I haven’t done that yet so that’s a big thing for me.”