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Philly's mantra - don't destroy football

Complaints about Dublin money and population 'send wrong message'

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ON THE BALL: Dublin’s Philly McMahon. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

ON THE BALL: Dublin’s Philly McMahon. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

ON THE BALL: Dublin’s Philly McMahon. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

You may have noticed that Philly McMahon has been missing from our Allianz League fields over the past month and more, one of his longest injury absences from Dublin duty.

But while McMahon's broken hand (or, more specifically, a fractured metacarpal) has been healing, he has noticed plenty of fractious talk about Dublin's football dominance.

Money talks. The population numbers game. Home comforts in Croke Park.

And the six-time All-Ireland winner admits to being slightly bemused by the attitude underlying this message.

"I understand where it comes from - I understand that it's just the way sport goes," says McMahon, speaking at yesterday's launch of the Coca-Cola HBC #YouthEmpowered Programme 2019.

Success

"There's a successful team; there's always people out there that will look at ways to try and change the success of whoever is successful. And I think it sends the wrong message out for the next generation.

"So what we're saying is, 'Right, if we have a team that's successful, let's complain. Let's complain about the rules, let's complain about the money, let's complain about the population' ... instead of saying, 'Let's actually beat them when they have all that.' And that needs to be the message.

"I don't think you can go to any top team in this country and say to them, 'Which would you want to win, an All-Ireland that changes the rules, that complains about this, this and this - or beat Dublin with all of these things?'

"The person I am, I would like to win against all of this stuff … I think that's a much better sense of an All-Ireland than complaining."

Pretenders

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POWER: Dublin Philly McMahon joined Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) yesterday for the launch of #YouthEmpowered 2019, an initiative developed by the company to provide free life and business skills training courses to young people in Ireland. Check out www.youthempowered.ie. Photo: Julien Behal

POWER: Dublin Philly McMahon joined Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) yesterday for the launch of #YouthEmpowered 2019, an initiative developed by the company to provide free life and business skills training courses to young people in Ireland. Check out www.youthempowered.ie. Photo: Julien Behal

POWER: Dublin Philly McMahon joined Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) yesterday for the launch of #YouthEmpowered 2019, an initiative developed by the company to provide free life and business skills training courses to young people in Ireland. Check out www.youthempowered.ie. Photo: Julien Behal

The two-time All Star is now warming to his theme. He likens the challenge facing Dublin's chief pretenders to the one he and his teammates eventually overcame back in 2011.

"Why not challenge the next generation to say, 'Don't complain about it, go after it, go and win it the hard way.' That's the way we did it, 16 years," he says, citing the length of Dublin's Sam Maguire famine.

"I didn't see all this money," he adds, alluding to the finance pumped into coaching and games development in the capital. "I got Paddy Christie, coming to my school, taking me out of class and telling me to come up and train in Poppintree Park. That's what I got. And that's how I got to play for Dublin.

"I think the message has to change. I understand that negative media sells but we are destroying the sport right now.

"If you look at the Airtricity League now, the start of the season, they are talking about the social media campaign that each club are putting in. The attendances are going up. The GAA is going to go the opposite way if we keep going this way in terms of the media."

But what about the thesis that rule changes aren't necessarily a bad thing to counteract the numerous teams and coaches wedded to a defensive mindset that is turning off fans?

"I agree with you, but when does it get to the point when we just leave our sport the way it is and play with it?" McMahon replies.

"We have played a certain way and you have heard Jim (Gavin) say it - it's an offensive, expression-type football and we have won All-Irelands. I just can't see why teams aren't going for that style that people actually like, because the last team to win an All-Ireland with a mass defence was Donegal (in 2012).

Offensive

"Nobody has won one since that. At the end of the day I think teams that are getting to the latter stages of the All-Ireland series are the ones that are playing a more offensive style football."

Last question: what did he make of the Donegal motion aimed at moving Dublin's home 'Super 8s' fixture out of Croke Park?

"I honestly wouldn't care if you put four jumpers on a piece of grass and you told me to play Donegal ... I honestly wouldn't care if you took it out of Croke Park and played it in Parnell Park. But I understand the importance of the fans seeing their county play. That has to be the underlining reason why we play our games in Croke Park.

"Again, going back to the point where you're talking about the Airtricity League and the numbers going up, we don't want our numbers to go down!

"Why would we want our fan-base to go down? GAA is competing with rugby, soccer and other sports ... again, it doesn't bother me, it's not something I worry about. If you played it in Parnell Park, which I do every year with my club, it doesn't make a difference to me. It would make a difference to the fans."


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