GAA Football

Philly McMahon going all out to get Dublin starting jersey

Dublin footballer Philly McMahon with Nicole Cleary (11) from St Brigid’s GNS and Sean McHugh (11) from Scoil Chiarain CBS, at the GAA Healthy Clubs launch at Craobh Chiarain GAA Club, Parnell Park in Dublin yesterday
Picture by Sportsfile 
Andy Watters

IT’S only January, so Philly McMahon isn’t cluttering his head thinking about extending Dublin’s 29-game unbeaten run in League and Championship or leading the charge for a hat-trick of Sam Maguires.

For the moment, the Ballymun Kickham’s corner-back is concentrating on being in the starting line-up for the Dubs’ NFL Division One opener against Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park and keeping his place after it.

“What’s the point in thinking of playing if you haven’t got the jersey?” pondered McMahon at the launch of the GAA’s Healthy Clubs Project in Dublin yesterday.

“(The goal) is still to get the jersey,” he added. “I suppose every day, to be better – to go home after training every night and to say to myself: ‘What did I do tonight to make myself better tomorrow?’ That’s the big thing for me.”

Dublin haven’t tasted defeat since Kerry got the better of them in a League fixture in Killarney in March 2015. Since then Jim Gavin’s men have won two League titles, two Leinster titles and two All-Irelands.

“It has never affected me, people saying: ‘You’re still going on this unbeaten run’,” says McMahon.

“It’s never come into my mindset. You don’t have time to be thinking of these things … you’re thinking about what you’re trying to do on the day. I know we always say that, but that’s the fact. You’re just thinking of ‘Right, what do I need to do today that helps the team perform?’”

Teetotaler McMahon says “the head is recharged” after a team holiday to Jamaica. He’s hoping his body is ready too: “I always say: ‘You can recharge your head but your body has to follow then after’,” he said.

“When we go back training you want to really run hard, but your body doesn’t adapt as quick as your head does. So when you have a period of downtime and you go on a holiday, your head gets in a good place and you get eager to go back and play, but your body has to follow. So it takes time for your body to get back into it.

“I’ve always tried to convince myself, when the lads are having a few drinks on the beach, that if I can eat sweets and chocolate and stuff then I’ll be alright. Then for some reason every pre-season I’m running beside these fellas and I’m going, ‘I should be running past you because you were drinking.’

“It never happens really so it depends. Everybody is different. It depends how much mileage you have on the body, how much extra weight you’re carrying, what age you are, there’s loads of things you have to factor in. It’s a mind over body thing. Once you can feel good and feel you’re challenging yourself mentally, the body will come along as the sessions and the season continues on.”

In last year’s All-Ireland final, Dublin were pushed to the pins of their collars by Mayo. McMahon expects Tyrone to challenge their dominance in 2017: “Tyrone did well last year,” he said.

“I thought Tyrone were really strong last year – I think they can come strong this year. “Mayo losing the All-Ireland final, they’re going to be strong. Kerry. They’re all going to come at you again. The standards increase.

"It happens every year.” 

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