'Philly McMahon is a player people like to dislike'
PRESUMING Rory O'Carroll's eye is back in working order following Cillian O'Connor's errant elbow last Sunday, most observers are operating on the presumption he'll take Aidan O'Shea tomorrow.
Yet there were plenty of indications that it was Philly McMahon, who ghosted O'Shea for the entirety in a battle that could most charitably be described as sparky, would have done so regardless of O'Carroll's early and forced substitution.
"I thought Philly was thrown in because O'Carroll went off," reckons Vinnie Murphy, who was thoroughly impressed by the job the Ballymun man did given the circumstances.
O'Shea, not helped by some occasionally aimless service, claimed some ball, won a couple of frees and had two direct assists but McMahon held him scoreless and against the canvass of his summer exploits, his output was wholly understated.
"He's giving away five or six inches in height," Murphy points out. "Philly's a tough 'aul root. He plays on the edge. He plays over the edge sometimes.
"He plays the way all decent backs should play. Sometimes you have to bend the rules.
"O'Shea is one of these fellas who plays on the edge as well. He pulls and drags and uses his physique to his advantage."
As a former full-forward who leaned heavily on his own physique, Murphy's certain which of the Dublin inside defenders he'd more fancy standing beside him for the national anthem.
"If I had to mark either of them, I would prefer to mark McMahon," Murphy insists.
"O'Carroll is bigger than him, he's better in the air.
"And I don't think O'Shea would have caught as much clean possession off him.
"So he wouldn't have had to be man-handled the way he was.
"But I think if myself and McMahon were marking each other, there'd be sparks flying. That's the way Philly plays." Though he avoided suspension subsequently, Murphy reckons McMahon has been harshly criticised since.
"I thought there were certain commentators, especially Kevin McStay, who was very harsh comparing him to the Tyrone lad (Tiernan McCann).
"That was harsh. I don't know how much contact was there.
"But it was definitely more than a ruffle of the hair.
"And I just think he's one of these fellas - a bit like myself - who people like to dislike."