Philly McMahon Q&A: ‘If people want to say bad things about us, we can’t really stop it’

Promoting today’s National Fitness Day, Philly McMahon yesterday gave a typically frank interview on Dublin’s All-Ireland SFC triumph, criticism of Jim Gavin, and cynicism in Gaelic football

At the launch of the second National Fitness Day was Dublin footballer Philly McMahon with Sibha Bhoja and Conn McCluskey, aged 8. Pic: Tommy Dickson

John Fogarty: What’s your take on the sour commentary about Dublin since beating Mayo?

Answer: “The way I’ve been brought up in life is that when somebody has an opinion about you, that’s their opinion. That’s their thoughts. And for me, it’s not something I buy into. I don’t know too much about what’s happened but I’ve heard certain people have said negative things. But I don’t know what way they’ve come about. Is it that they’ve been asked their opinion or have they brought up the conversation? If they’ve brought up the conversation, I’m sure everybody knows why they have. They’re maybe jumping on the media bandwagon.”

Q: Is it insulting?

A: “If these people meant something to me in life, it would be. But they don’t.”

Q: Is it inevitable that this happens when you’re successful for a length of time?

A: “Yeah, it could be. I was just watching the Kammy and (Jeff Stelling), the AIB videos of the All-Ireland, they are brilliant. And you see Dick Clerkin behind (celebrating Lee Keegan’s goal)... I thought he was from Monaghan? So you do get a bit of that. It’s inevitable in any sport. Of course it’s going to happen. It’s happened for years with other top sports teams. With Man United — everybody hates Man United.”

Q: Are you beyond using it as motivation?

A: “It’s not that it’s new. It’s just that there are people that are from an external GAA background that are starting to get involved in it and that’s probably why it’s starting to get so much media hype. So that’s all I can… there’s nothing more to it.

“If people want to say bad things about us, we can’t really stop it. I’m sure people have called me worse names. I can’t prevent that. But what I can do is I can deal with it in the right way in my thoughts.”

Q: People have become fascinated by Jim Gavin’s demeanour on match-days.

A: “My opinion is people get fascinated because it is not the norm. I’m not sure about other countries but… we don’t like change. When we see something out of the ordinary… if Jim was to celebrate we’d say ‘wow, this is different’. That’s just his style of management and it doesn’t mean it is wrong or right but that is his way. It has worked and that’s the way he manages.”

Q: Was the final any more or less cynical that what you’ve seen previously?

A: “In the last couple of minutes it came into it alright but throughout the game it was end to end, you didn’t really have the time to do anything that was cynical, you know? It definitely didn’t feel any more (cynical) than what it normally is. You’re never going to get rid of cynical play. A player is going to do absolutely whatever they can — I would have taken off my jersey and thrown it at Dean Rock, to put him off. So this is the game.”

Q: It’s hard to eradicate what is part of human nature — people will bend the rules?

A: “I’ve got to the stage in life where I’m playing for Dublin and ultimately the effect of that is going to help people in my charity, especially if I win it. So, I am going to do what I can to win. Now, if it affects the team negatively and the result negatively, then it’s the wrong decision. But that’s what you’re planning to do. There’s always the opportunity to be negative. And that’s why the lads probably did it in the last 10 minutes because they saw the opportunity in something negative they were doing.”

Q: But where do you draw the line?

A: “Where do you draw the line? The referee sending you off, you know you’ve crossed the line then, and then you look back and you say, ‘Jesus, was that the right decision’ and how did it affect my team?”

Q: What example does the win at all costs attitude set?

A: “Well, I grew up watching Gaelic football that was much tougher than it is today, so what example did they set? Some of the tackles that you can watch back in games, I love them! You don’t have them anymore, so does it really have an impact? It’s all well and good saying there are certain things you shouldn’t be doing and that’s fine, I agree with that, but the players that came before us, it was a much rougher sport.”

Q: Should a black card in the latter stages be something more like a score or a free to the other team?

A: “I don’t know how many times I have to talk about this black card thing. It would have much more impact if Ciarán (Kilkenny) got sin-binned and you had 14 men and they had a spare man to kick the ball to instead of kicking the ball over the sideline.”

Q: You’d prefer to see justice done on the day than in a boardroom?

A: “Yeah, 100%. It’s very strange the way it all is when you’re getting penalised for something you done and you’re sitting there and you have to wear a suit and all this (laughs). It doesn’t need to go that far. You get your punishment, if you made the mistake you deal with it. If you look at all the players around the country and the effort and the time they put into the sport and then they look forward to this All-Ireland final day and you could essentially be off the pitch in five minutes for a silly error. I think that’s the bit about it that would really frustrate me, I think that’s why… they talk about player welfare, there’s no player welfare when that happens.”


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