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McMahon brushes off gouging accusations in aftermath of final

Dublin's Philly McMahon gets to grips with Kerry's Kieran Donaghy during Sunday's All-Ireland final  
Paul Keane

DUBLIN’S Philly McMahon has denied deliberately eye gouging Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy in the All-Ireland final and told critics that he doesn’t “give a sh*t” what they think.

McMahon achieved his stated ambition of winning an All-Ireland having started every single game and finished the season with a terrific man-marking job on Kingdom icon Colm Cooper, holding him scoreless. But his third All-Ireland win in total has been marred by a number of disciplinary issues that he has been caught up in.

Video: Philly McMahon and Kieran Donaghy in 2015 All-Ireland final

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea alleged McMahon headbutted him in their drawn All-Ireland semi-final tie, while pundits suggested the Ballymun man also dived in a separate incident in that game. Against Kerry, McMahon’s hand was caught on camera clearly making contact with the eye area of Donaghy as the big Kerry man was on the ground foraging for possession.

It remains to be seen if the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee pursue McMahon over the incident, though the player himself is adamant it wasn’t deliberate. Asked if the gouging claim took away from the win, McMahon initially nodded in agreement before sounding a defiant note.

“Yeah, it does, I’m talking to friends and family [about it] when I should be talking about keeping one of the best footballers in decades scoreless,” said McMahon.

“But now I’m talking about something that, if I did connect with his face, I didn’t intentionally do it. And look, there was loads of incidents on the pitch yesterday, but it’s unfortunate that mine always get brought up. 

“But it’s part of the game and I have to accept it. If I get all these accusations against me and I win an All-Ireland, I don’t give a sh*t, to be honest.”

McMahon, a personal trainer and MMA enthusiast, has previously credited his development as a top defender in recent seasons to the extra aggression he has managed to bring to his game. Cooper may have felt McMahon overstepped the mark at times during Dublin’s three-point final win, though. McMahon confirmed there was a frosty conversation between the pair when it came to the customary post-match handshake.

“Yeah, there was a little bit of a stand-off, but we spoke then and I said, ‘listen, this is the way that I play football. This is what you have to do to win a game, I’m going to do what I can to beat you and you’re going to do what you can to beat me’,” said McMahon. 

“Then he said, ‘well, you know, fair enough’ and we shook hands.”

McMahon performed heroically in the semi-final replay win over Mayo, shackling O’Shea, Mayo’s dangerous full-forward, and also contributing 1-2 himself. He was informed last Friday that he would be marking Cooper in the final.

“I was absolutely delighted,” McMahon said. 

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

“Whatever happened, that is the way we play football, that is the way that I play football, you [Cooper] play it a different way.”

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