Philly McMahon doesn’t come across as the sort of guy who swats up on the opposition at the earliest opportunity, but the Dublin defender has a pretty solid excuse for adopting a non-watching brief for Saturday’s two All-Ireland qualifiers in Croke Park.
Dublin will meet one of the three teams involved — they cannot be matched with Westmeath again — in the quarter-final but McMahon has far more important matters to occupy him than the tactics and form of counties Mayo, Cork and Donegal.
“I’m doing a fundraiser for a kid called ‘Batman Ben’ so we are doing that on Saturday. All the (BK Fitness) gyms that I have are coming together and we are doing an obstacle course and we’re going away for food that night as well.”
‘Batman Ben’ is Ben Farrell, a five-year old from Finglas who is battling a rare form of cancer and who desperately needs an estimated €260,000 to fund clinical trials in the US. It certainly puts video analysis, and football in general, into perspective.
Which isn’t to say it doesn’t have to be done.
McMahon will sit through the homework prescribed by Jim Gavin and his video analyst next week once Dublin’s All-Ireland last-eight opponent has been identified and dissected though he doesn’t go along with the view that the current uncertainty hampers preparations.
“No, it’s actually easier because you just focus on what you are doing in training and on what you can improve from your last game. And once you find out who you are playing then that’s when you do your little bit of homework.”
Whoever it is, Dublin face a step up in class: their All-Ireland quarter-final will test them against a Division One side for the first time since beating Kerry in the league final at the end of April.
The main concern for Gavin ahead of that date is the fitness of James McCarthy who pulled out of the Leinster final victory over Westmeath with a quad injury, but the update on McMahon’s Ballymun Kickhams club mate is good.
“Well, as far as I know he just had a dead quad,” said McMahon. “I saw him train during the week and he is looking good. James is a massive player for us, both going forward and defensively. He is so fluid and relaxed on the ball, but we are very lucky we have such a strong squad and it’s very competitive.
“You look at Eric (Lowndes) coming in the last day and we also made a tactical change there with Ciaran (Kilkenny) dropping in. We have nearly two players for every position anyway so, as a player, we don’t look too much into it when someone is gone. It is ‘who’s next in?’”
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