Philly McMahon on strength and conditioning with Rovers. (The real Rovers)

McMahon looking forward to working with Croly at Shamrock Rovers
Philly McMahon: “There’s no doubt you can learn from different
sports”Philly McMahon: “There’s no doubt you can learn from different
sports”

IAN O’RIORDAN

Being an expert in the principles of strength and conditioning, Philly
McMahon shouldn’t have any problems with the increased workload of the
coming weeks, although his first priority will be extending Ballymun
Kickhams’ run in the Leinster club championship.

Sunday’s quarter-final win over Mullingar Shamrocks has set up the
Dublin champions with a semi-final showdown against Kildare’s
Sarsfields, on Sunday week, a result which happened to coincide with
the announcement of his new role as strength and conditioning coach to
Shamrock Rovers.

McMahon’s appointment also happened to coincide with the new
performance consultant role for Donegal manager Jim McGuinnes at
Glasgow Celtic, and while that might represent a definite change in
direction for the Donegal man, McMahon in fact comes from a soccer
background, and has already worked with several players in the code.

His work with Shamrock Rovers, under their new manager, Trevor Croly,
won’t take immediate precedence, as they’re currently in the off
season: it will involve some fitness and strength screening and later
some pre-season conditioning, although it will be several more weeks
before he gets more hands on.

“I am really looking forward to it,” he said in the aftermath of
Sunday’s win. “It’s a good club, got a good history, and I’ve been
dealing with Trevor Croly the last few seasons. We’ve got similar
philosophies so we said we’d bang our heads together and see what
happens.”

McMahon already runs his own business (BK Strength and Conditioning),
and believes the trend of Gaelic footballers and hurlers seeking
fitness advice from other codes may well have turned, the recent
McGuinness appointment, with fellow Dublin footballer Bryan Cullen
also now working with the Leinster rugby academy, further proof of
that.

“I don’t think we’re getting the jobs because we’re Gaelic
footballers,” he explained. “I think we’re lucky that we’ve put in the
effort and time, we’ve worked hard at our professions, and we’re
getting the benefits from it now. We’re getting the jobs out of it as
a result. But I also think with the professionalism that we have in
Gaelic football, even though we’re not getting paid, the work ethic so
good, I think that can transfer into soccer a lot and rugby.”

McMahon started out in soccer before the Gaelic took hold – although
the Shamrock Rovers job wasn’t something he actively sought.

“I actually played a good bit of soccer, when I was younger, went over
at Nottingham Forest for trials. When I came back I was with the
Dublin minors so I stuck with the GAA. But I’ve also been training
some lads that are in the Premiership at the minute, such as Enda
Stevens (who made his starting debut at the weekend for Aston Villa,
and a former Shamrock Rovers left back).

“So I’ve been training him for the last two seasons, and then he comes
over every so often and I also liaise with the strength and
conditioning coach at Aston Villa, and I’ve been training other young
lads in the academies in England.

“There’s no doubt you can always learn from different sports. I think
Dublin learned from other sports when we won the All-Ireland. There’s
no doubt that Celtic are going to learn from Jimmy McGuinness. And the
same with Bryan Cullen with Leinster now.”

Ballymun, meanwhile, appear to be learning fast themselves, and having
recently won back the Dublin title for the first time since 1985, are
suddenly closing in on a first Leinster title. Seven-time champions
Portlaoise are looking good, in the other half of the draw, and
coincidentally, Ballymun only once made the final before, in 1982, and
lost to Portlaoise.

“There’s no doubt that the Dublin championship is probably the hardest
one to win, reckoned McMahon, “with so many teams that can win it,
year in, year out, and that helps going into the Leinster
championship. But we’ll just take it game by game, we can’t look
further than that. Sometimes you say it’s bonus territory but, it’s
not, this is what we love doing, playing football, we don’t go out
worrying about losing games. Because if you do that, that’s what will
happen, you’ll lose. We went out to enjoy it and that’s how it worked
out.”