Philly McMahon: Dublin's legacy untarnished by Croke Park factor
Defender responds to Jim McGuinness remarks about Dublin home advantage
Philly McMahon: Why would you play in a smaller venue and not facilitate your fans? Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Dublin defender Philly McMahon has rejected claims that their legacy could be in jeopardy if they play two of their three Super-8s games at Croke Park.
Former All-Ireland winning Donegal manager Jim McGuinness made that claim and suggested that Dublin should “do the right thing” and ensure only one of their upcoming games goes ahead there.
McGuinness, the last manager to lead a team to victory over Dublin in the Championship, back in 2014, claimed that Dublin’s legacy could be tarnished if they seized upon what many might deem an unfair advantage, stating that some could believe it’s “a fix”.
The anomaly arises as all Super-8 counties are guaranteed a home game – which in Dublin’s case means Croke Park – an away game and a match at Croke Park.
“I’m certainly not looking at what my legacy is just yet in terms of what we’ve done with Dublin. I’m still present in terms of what we’re trying to achieve,” retorted five-time All-Ireland winner McMahon.
“But what we’ve done so far is not to be looked [down] at. We’ve achieved a lot and through that achievement we’ve helped a lot of people as well. So I think our legacy is in a good place.”
Asked how Dublin’s success has helped people, McMahon pointed to his own charity work.
He set up the Half Time Talk charity in 2012 to help young adults in his native Ballymun develop greater self-confidence and employment opportunities.
“I set up a charity because I have a profile as a Dublin footballer, and I used the platform of sport to help people. There’s an example,” said McMahon. “And we have other people who are involved in other charity work, so we use our success the right way.
“So saying that our legacy is tarnished because we play games in Croke Park, maybe you need to look outside the box in terms of that sort of stuff.”
Negative to Dublin
McMahon said that, in general, some pundits appear to be negative towards Dublin, who have claimed five of the last seven All-Irelands.
“If a person is constantly coming out and saying things, then you’ve got to say, ‘Well hold on, what’s your agenda?’” said McMahon.
“But this is the way the world works, this is the way the sport works. Certainly Dublin is in the media a lot. Even when the topic is not about them, it’s about Dublin football. I certainly personally wouldn’t let it get to me. People’s opinions are theirs.
“I’m sure if you asked any of the other Dublin players or management would they prefer to play in Parnell Park or Croke Park, it wouldn’t really matter to us.
“But it would matter in terms of the fan base and facilitating them. Whoever has an opinion around all of that, there’s nothing we can do. We’re here to play football.”
Dublin have begun their last three Leinster campaigns with road trips to provincial venues. Prior to that, they played all their Championship games at Croke Park between the 2007 and 2015 seasons.
Home and away
Asked if their residence there continues to present them with an unfair advantage, McMahon said: “When Dublin use Croke Park as a home venue, they rent it, so anyone can rent it. It’s up to their counties to rent it if they want. It’s not as if we’re getting something that nobody else can get. If other counties want to rent Croke Park, they can rent it. Just for us, with the fans we have, it probably makes more sense to put it in Croke Park.
“It’s very important that if we have a good fan base [we can accommodate them]. We already have an issue when we get to All-Ireland finals that there are so many fans that go to all the games and miss All-Ireland finals.
“So for us to play games in Croke Park, it’s a no-brainer. Why would you play in a smaller venue and not facilitate your fans?”
McMahon played in the full-back line in front of stand-in goalkeeper Evan Comerford, his clubmate, against Laois in last Sunday’s Leinster final.
It was captain Stephen Cluxton’s first time not to start a Championship game since 2004.
“He [Cluxton] was doing a bit of running last week so I was actually thinking he was going to play,” said McMahon. “I see him in training and I think he’ll be back well [for the Super-8s] but I can’t say that for definite, I’m not a physio, but I think he will be available for selection.”
Philly McMahon, Fergal Whitely, Aoife Kane, and Ali Twomey were in Ballyfermot Sports Complex at the AIG Heroes event, an initiative that helps support local grass-roots communities by partnering with Dublin GAA and others to use sport as a means to build self-confidence and social skills in young kids. To further promote these efforts, AIG Insurance gifted GAA equipment to primary schools in the area.