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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Hell for leather - McMahon

Ballymun brave is driven to nail down corner slot

PHILLY McMAHON won't forget 2011 in a hurry but maybe not quite for the same reason as his Dublin colleagues.

"For me, it would be the year I got injured," he recalls of the grade two anterior ligament and knee fracture double-whammy he suffered against Laois in the Leinster quarter-final, a blow which precluded him from starting in any of Dublin's subsequent matches, even if he did make a coonsiderable contribution off the bench on their crowning day in September.

"It's still great to say you have a medal, but you want to be starting and play a whole game and do your bit for the team. I celebrated like the rest of the lads but it was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to start that game and I'll try and prove that this year.

"Even though I featured in the All-Ireland final, I would have been very hungry to start in that final and that's what I'm brining into this year," he adds in a reassuring statement to Pat Gilroy as he monitors the hunger levels right throughout the-season-after-the-season-before.

"It's a big question, isn't it?," the Ballymun ace ponders. "There aren't many teams who have gone and done it the following year. I think for us, we have had a lot of lads that like myself, they want to do more than they did last year and take the team further.

"I think the league campaign helped us as well," he adds. "Not having a good league campaign gave us a wake-up call, that we needed to do more in training, that we needed to increase our intensity. It helped as an awful lot."

A bad league and a worse disciplinary record beckoned inevitable cries that Dublin were suffering some form of permanent hangover or, worse, their attitude had diminished from the levels of 2011.

"I don't think we were cocky," McMahon states. "I think we just lacked the intensity we had the previous year and also, other teams increased their intensity. We knew it was going to be tougher, but we just didn't increase it enough in the league to be doing anything major. We've had to change a few things up."

McMahon has been named in Gilroy's inaugural 2012 Championship XV, a status he had hankered to win back ever since the turn of the year and, in his eyes at least, a significant selection with regard to further into the summer.

"You can see with the team that is out there and the quality in it, to be a part of it is important, especially with the bad year I had last year in terms of injuries. It's important to get in there early and nail your spot down. But it just shows that we're not taking anything for granted against Louth.

"We have all our lads out and we're going hell-for-leather for Sunday."

It might be the start of Dublin's Championship campaign but with a miniscule attendance expected and Dublin, by McMahon's own admission, likely to be still some way off optimum, the occasion might not carry the most summer-esque feel to it. McMahon, though, is unconcerned.

"For me personally, it was never a thing when I went in and looked towards the crowd and said 'this will be a good game because there are 60, 000 people here' or whatever," he states.

"It doesn't really matter to me. You're going to play in the spot you've played all your life. You're going to play a game you like, whether it's an All-Ireland or the first round of the Leinster. So for me, the crowd doesn't matter. It's all about the job you have to do for the team.

He adds: "Your first game is always your toughest because you don't know where you're at. It's hard to gauge yourself peaking-wise. We didn't know how high we were peaked until we came up against Tyrone last year. We knew then that we were at a stage that was good.

"If we can peak a little bit earlier this year and maintain it ... even better."

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