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Philly McMahon calls for revamp of All-Stars after Con O’Callaghan nomination

Philly McMahon

Philly McMahon has called for widespread changes to be made to the All-Stars awards after the puzzling nomination of Con O’Callaghan.

O’Callaghan is undoubtedly one of the best footballers in the country, although the Dublin star missed the entire league campaign, as well as his county’s All-Ireland quarter-final and semi-final fixtures.

The Cuala club man played a grand total of three games for Dublin this year, and while he did impress in those Leinster Championship appearances, O’Callaghan’s minutes paled in comparison to most inter-county footballers.

Former Dublin footballer Philly McMahon was speaking on behalf of the Shine A Light Night campaign and argued that O’Callaghan’s nomination is a sign that the All-Stars awards must change.

Philly McMahon on the All-Stars nominations.

“Don’t get me started on the All-Stars. I think the All-Stars need to be completely revamped. I don’t think there’s anybody that would argue that it doesn’t need to be changed, from the player’s point of view,” McMahon said.

“You could argue David Clifford as well, the amount of time he missed. He missed a couple of games as well. For me, it’s just hard. There are a few things they need to get right there.

“Con would be the first one to sit in front of you right now and say he doesn’t deserve to [be nominated] with the amount of game time he’s had. He’s that honest and that’s the type of person that he is. It’s the same every year.

“I remember the year that we played Donegal and there were full backs getting All-Stars in the year that they created the mass defence. I remember thinking that you could have given Michael Murphy an All-Star that year at full back, he was that far back defending.

“Then there are other years where you get players that are [nominated in] positions that they haven’t played in. It doesn’t make sense. As we know, the players of the year are voted by the players so it’s a popularity contest.

“There is a lot of stuff there that I just don’t agree with and when I was playing I got a dislike towards it. I don’t know if the All-Stars do this every year just to stir up something for the media. It comes across that way, some of the stuff is so obvious.

“I do think there’s a reshuffle needed there, it’ll start to lose its value if it keeps happening.”

Lee Gannon’s sensational first year with Dublin.

While McMahon isn’t exactly a fan of the All-Stars, he does believe the decision to nominate Dublin’s Lee Gannon for young footballer of the year was the correct one.

Gannon enjoyed a breakthrough year at inter-county level at the age of 22, as he excelled in both attack and defence in what was ultimately a disappointing campaign for Dublin.

McMahon has been highly impressed by the youngster, and stressed that Gannon’s performances are even more notable given that he plays as a half back for Whitehall Colmcille and as a full back for Dublin.

“The crucial thing that sticks out for me with Lee is the scores he kicked. For a player doing that in his first year at such a young age, that shows the potential this fella has,” McMahon explained.

“I’d love to see him out in the half back line. I think he’s more of a half back, for me. But if you look at the players he’s marked in his first season, it’s not an easy job in your first season to start.

“You have to learn, especially him playing as a wing back prior to getting into the senior team, so a wing back going into a full back is a different position. People don’t realise that. You have to be much more calm.

“When a player gets the ball you can’t be as tight sometimes because he’ll turn you, whereas when you’re a wing back he’ll turn you and you’ll be able to get back because you’ve got the space on the pitch. He’s done extremely well in his first year.

“There are very few full backs that you’ll see throughout the years in the Dublin team that have come in, started games, kicked scores and got young player of the year.”

Philly McMahon on moving on from inter-county football.

McMahon is still playing club football with Ballymun Kickhams, although his time with Dublin came to an end after the defeat to Mayo in the 2021 All-Ireland semi-final.

Playing for Dublin was a huge part of McMahon’s life for a very long time, as he made his senior inter-county debut back in 2008, but he admits that he hasn’t struggled to put it behind him.

“I’ve spoken to a couple of lads over the last couple of weeks actually about this and a few of them have openly said they’ve struggled a little bit,” McMahon revealed.

“I was trying to understand what they were struggling with because I don’t think I was aware I was struggling with it. I was trying to think, ‘What are you struggling with so that if I’m struggling with that then I know I’m struggling.’

“So I don’t know if I’m aware of the struggles of that but I do know what has helped me really transition is doing the punditry work for the Irish Independent. It’s really helped me keep the stories alive.

“It’s like counselling in many ways because you’re talking about your career and the stories you have there inside you and when you speak about them, it’s no different to when you have a mental health issue and you’re speaking about it.

“Any trauma you have and you’re talking about it. So for me, that’s something I didn’t get into punditry for but doing the stuff around the column and the podcast has helped me massively to transition.

“I think if I didn’t do that I would have locked a lot of stuff up and it would have hit me eventually I suppose.”

Focus Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy are calling on people across the country to sign up and take part in this year’s Shine A Light Night on Friday, 14 October by sleeping out in their homes, gardens or workplaces to raise vital funds to help end family homelessness in Ireland.

Now in its tenth year, the annual fundraising event, proudly supported by Bord Gáis Energy was launched today by former Dublin footballer Philly McMahon. Philly will take part in this year’s sleep-out and is urging others to get involved by signing up and sleeping out on the night.The goal this year is to raise €1.5m with all funds going towards vital services to prevent families in Ireland from becoming homeless, whilst creating sustainable long-term solutions to homelessness in Ireland.

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