The Dublin corner-back and Ballymun Kickhams clubman has developed into one of the countries leading defenders in the last three seasons.
McMahon has built a reputation as one of the toughest man-markers in the game and has popped up with some vital scores for the Dubs in big games.
Speaking to gaa.ie in the lead up to Sunday’s eagerly awaited semi-final with Tyrone, McMahon addressed how his current lifestyle has influenced his preparations in a more positive manner this season;
“You are looking at all the elements and you, at this stage of my career you are always looking, when I was younger I was always looking for the extra edge, the extra gym session.
“But now I’m looking for, instead of the amount of time I’m spending in certain areas, I’m just trying to condense it down and have better quality in those areas.
“Making sure that my gym is done 100 per cent, my runs. Making sure I’m not dropping a yard or too. Nutrition is on point. Because I don’t have that time.”
McMahon brought time into the equation due to his well-publicised roles in running his own business. He spoke of how that brings its own challenges in ensuring that he can train and prepare to the same extent as the college students and teachers that are currently in the Dublin set-up.
The Dubs defender praised Jim Gavin for facilitating all players holistic development;
“It’s quite hard but the great thing is that Jim (Gavin) and the management are very supportive of what we do outside of football.
“If we’re struggling with certain things they will allow us to cater for whatever time we need. We’re very lucky in terms of that.”
Tyrone are Dublin’s opponents on Sunday and this year has seen Tyrone put up big scores in their four championship outings to date. Being known for traditionally playing defensively, Mickey Harte’s men have evolved their system this season and each game has seen a strong spread of players on the score sheet.
Philly McMahon has marked the likes of Aidan O’Shea and Colm Cooper when Dublin have played in the biggest games in the last few seasons. It will be interesting to see who Jim Gavin places McMahon marking for this Sunday’s game.
Peter Harte, despite wearing number seven, spends a lot of time in the Tyrone attack. Players like Mattie Donnelly and Sean Cavanagh wear number 14 and 15 but find themselves playing in almost every position. McMahon could well be deployed to the role of picking one of these men, and he spoke about how he approaches these battles before big games;
“I’m equipped to deal with them really well.”
“It’s very hard to say you’re going to win a battle mentally unless you outperform a player that you’re marking.”
“I would like to think that if a man said something to me to put me off my game, it draws more out of me. And if I do the same to the fella I’m marking, it draws more out of him.”
“I want to mark the best players on top form and I want to see what I’m like.
“You have to remember that as a defender, you’re looking to change the mindset of the forward. Because all you’re doing is chasing them around the pitch.
“So, if they’re thinking about me – whether that’s marking me going up the pitch or trying to get into my head or trying to ruffle me up – that’s great.”
Sunday’s game promises to be an intriguing encounter. Dublin are going for their third title in a row and despite getting one decent game from Kildare in Leinster, they still remain pretty much untested coming into the final four.
Tyrone have definitely made strides this season and looked primed to provide a major test for the Boys in Blue.
Last Sunday appeared to go a long way to show just how little there is between the Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone and Dublin. McMahon will be hoping that everything is at 100% this Sunday.
Listen to our preview of Dublin vs Tyrone on this week’s episode of The 16th Man with Dominos.