Philly McMahon admits his new role as a performance coach with League of Ireland outfit Bohemians could prevent him from taking part in Saturday week’s All-Ireland semi-final.
Bohs are scheduled to play PAOK in the decisive second leg of their Europa Conference League battle next Thursday in Greece, two days before the Dubs face Mayo.
McMahon has travelled with Bohs to the club’s previous games in Europe though those trips didn’t clash with any Dublin games, placing him in a quandary.
The eight-time All-Ireland medallist hasn’t featured so far in this year’s championship although he was on the bench for last Sunday’s Leinster final win over Kildare.
“I’m not sure yet,” said McMahon when asked if he will accompany the team to Greece. “Obviously the All-Ireland semi-final is the same week. So I haven’t made a decision on that yet. I have to speak to Bohs and I’ll have to speak to Dessie (Farrell) as well.
“And obviously I’ll have to speak with my wife, Sarah, so she’ll have a lot to say on that as well, whether I can keep travelling away with Bohs.”
The long serving defender said he isn’t sure if flying out with Bohs would immediately rule him out of Dublin manager Farrell’s plans.
“Again, I don’t have the answer for that because I’d have to sit down with the management and see if I missed a session or two, would that impact my chance of doing a job for the team. That’s really where it will be, I think. I have to sit down and have a chat, ask the question, ‘If I miss one or two training sessions, will that impact my role in terms of what I’m doing on the day?’”
Fellow veteran Kevin McManamon has missed all of Dublin’s Championship games so far due to his similar involvement with the Irish boxing team in Tokyo. For both players, defeat to Mayo could spell the end of their Dublin careers.
In McMahon’s case, the 33-year-old hasn’t started a game for Dublin in either league or championship since January 2020 though he did come on as a substitute in three league games this season.
On his new role at Bohs, the former Shamrock Rovers fitness coach said he has learned a lot from working at Dalymount Park.
“Yeah, there’s loads but I’m not going to tell you,” he smiled. “One of the reasons why I actually took the job with Bohs was because I knew I was going to learn from the players.
“I knew I was going to learn from the management. Every day, from young players, from old players, you’re growing, you’re learning, you’re challenged. From a personal perspective, if I’m trying to help lads at Bohs to improve their performances, that makes me more conscious of how I’m feeling or how I’m acting around the Dublin lads as well.”
McMahon said he has had no problem combining the twin roles of playing one sport and coaching in another.
“It gives you double the highs,” he said, though he declined to explain what he actually does. “No, not telling! I’m in there to try and give them whatever I can in terms of knowledge and experience and to try to get them from A to B in terms of performance. The role with Shamrock Rovers was more strength and conditioning so this is definitely different, yeah. Personally, I’ve always been interested in coaching people.”
McMahon said it’s helped that both teams train close to where he lives.
“I’m very lucky that both Dublin and Bohs train in the same place, in DCU. I can walk around the corner and go training with Dublin. I’ve been very lucky with that. I haven’t missed much training for Dublin because of the work with Bohs.”
On Dublin’s lacklustre Championship form so far, McMahon says it’s wrong to expect perfection from the All-Ireland champions or to expect them to be consistently ‘hammering teams’.
The six-in-a-row Sam Maguire Cup holders retained the Leinster title by beating Kildare last Sunday though the eight-point winning margin was their lowest in a provincial final since 2013.
Allied to the difficulties they experienced in parts of the games against Wexford and Meath, it’s led to suggestions that the Dubs are slipping back with Kerry currently the favourites for the All-Ireland.
“It’s one of those things,” said McMahon of the narrative that Dublin aren’t playing as well as in previous years. “For me, you can only play and perform and then get on to the next phase. That’s what the job is about.
“What other people think around that, in terms of what narrative is created because we’re not winning by a certain number of points or because teams are getting purple patches, like, that’s just the way the game is.
“You can’t just have a perfect performance in every game. You can’t just be hammering teams every game. It’s just not the way sport works, in any field sport.”