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Exclusive interview: “on the pitch we do what we can to win” – philly mcmahon

One of the winners was Dublin’s Philly McMahon. The Ballymun man had an excellent season that was somewhat marred by controversy. He was accused of gouging Kieran Donaghy’s eye during the All-Ireland final. 
 
RTE’s fantastic “All-Ireland Day” documentary revisited the whole affair and this resulted in some of Philly’s not so big fans resurfacing on social media and airing their thoughts.
 
I caught up with Philly McMahon at the All Stars on Friday and found him to be a very articulate and pleasant person. He was very obliging when I asked if he would answer a few questions.
 
He could have been forgiven for thinking I was an idiot and walking off after I remarked “thought we would get an interview in before we all get drunk”, considering he is a pioneer.
 
Amy Molloy – This year you won the league, Leinster, the All-Ireland final and an All Star – how can you possibly top that?
 
Philly McMahon– God, it’s a clean sweep, it’ll be very hard to do. I think for me personally, the only thing that would top it is player of the year. I think I have won everything I could possibly win this year as a team and the only one I missed out on in terms of individual accolades was player of the year. How am I going top it? I don’t even want to think about that, I just want to get the jersey back and try and improve my performances.
 
AM – Yourself, Bernard and Jack were all nominated for player of the year, so was there a bit of rivalry/banter coming up to the All Stars?
 
PM – Ah yeah, there was a bit of craic with the lads. The two boys have been brilliant this year. Obviously Bernard has won it before.
 
It is great to see another defender winning it this year with Jack and he definitely deserved it with his performances this season.
 
I suppose most gaelic footballers will say it is the icing on the cake after you win an All-Ireland but for me, you set out at the start of the year to win anything you can, but as a team, not as an individual. I am just delighted that I was up there with the top three in the country and the other two were Dublin lads.
 
AM – As you know yourself, there was a bit of controversy around you this season. As a player, does that drive you on or do you find it difficult when people are saying negative things about you and sending you abusive tweets etc.?
 
PM – Nah not at all. Look, this is part of the game. When you play for Dublin you have to ensure you can control the media hype.
 
If you are on social media, you have to accept that it’s a public thing and you have to take what people say. You don’t have to take it in a way that will bother you.
 
It is important when you play for Dublin that you are representing the Dublin community, not just the team, so what we do on and off the pitch is important to who we are as a team. Humility is a big part of our culture. On the pitch, we do what we can to win and off the pitch, we show who we are as a community and as role models.
 
AM – As a Ballymun local, you’re a role model to a lot of people there, so when you’re walking down the street do they see you as a celebrity now or are you still Philly from down the road?
 
PM – A lot of them would just see me as Philly because they would know me from the business I have in the area. Kids would be different.
 
A couple of weeks ago I brought Sam Maguire around to the houses and they wouldn’t have known who I was until they seen the big silver cup and then they copped who I was. This kid came up to me, it was actually a day or two later, and he said “do you play for Dublin, you’re famous”.
 
In my head I said I wasn’t famous, but I wasn’t going to tell this kid that because he was probably looking up to me.
 
So I says, “aw yeah, I am famous” and he says “but you can’t be famous because you’re from Ballymun” and I said “why is that?”.
 
So I sat him down on the footpath for five minutes explaining to the kid how you can do well no matter where you’re from. The area I am from, there is a lot of youth in the area who have low self-esteem and I have an opportunity with my profile playing for Dublin to try and help that and try get kids in the Ballymun area to believe in themselves and go on to be role models in the future.