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Eight-time All-Ireland champ Philly McMahon says he’s up for punditry on the Sunday Game

‘If the opportunity comes, who knows I might try it’

Philly was at the launch of Focus Ireland’s Shine A Light Night© SPORTSFILE

Philly McMahon lifts Sam with Dublin© SPORTSFILE

Philly McMahon© SPORTSFILE

Sean McGoldrickSunday World

EIGHT-time All-Ireland winner Philly McMahon is open to offers from RTE to join the Sunday Game as an analyst next season.

The ex-Dublin star featured on RTE 2 last night during their live coverage of two Dublin senior football club quarter-finals.

“If the opportunity comes, who knows I might try it,” said McMahon.

The Sunday Game has lost four of its football pundits since the All-Ireland final. Pat Spillane has retired while Colm O’Rourke, Kevin McStay and Oisin McConville have been appointed as managers of Meath, Mayo and Wicklow respectively.

“I am going to give the club games [on TV] at bit of a go and see do I like it.”

McMahon’s immediate future is likely to be in punditry rather than team management.

Philly McMahon lifts Sam with Dublin© SPORTSFILE

He already turned down one opportunity to speak to a County Board about taking over as an inter-county team manager and he was subsequently offered a coaching role in an inter-county set-up.

“I was flattered by the opportunity, and I will eventually get into that space, but I just can’t see it at the minute with time. Especially with the young baby.”

Whereas other high profile sports stars like Brian O’Driscoll have spoken about the challenges they faced adjusting to life after their retirement, McMahon believes his work as a columnist and podcaster with the Irish Independent and his contribution eased the transition for him.

“I didn’t realise I would enjoy it as much as I did. It has been an eye-opener for me.

“Everybody says ‘welcome to the dark side’ but for me it was interesting to keep the stories alive from what I was seeing throughout the season and relating those stories back to my playing days.”

The feedback he received from outside the capital was very encouraging. “There were four or five people who texted me every Saturday with their comments.”

On another occasion he stopped off in the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall to break a journey to Kerry with his wife Sarah and baby son Leannain. He was astonished by the number of people who approached him to compliment him on the column.

“I have to be honest, when I was playing I never read a newspaper. In fact, I rarely had time to watch television never mind sit down and read a newspaper.”

The 35-year-old is still a busy man even though his inter-county football career is over.

As well as running his own gym, he works as a performance coach with Bohemians FC and helps deliver a leadership programme to prisoners on the Progression Unit of Mountjoy Jail.

The death of his older sibling John in 2012, after a long battle with addiction, changed his perspective on life. Since then he has spoken out about social issues including homelessness. His brother was homeless at one point in his life. “Every time I walk down the streets and see a homeless person it triggers me,” he says.

Speaking at the launch of Focus Ireland’s Shine a Light Night fund raiser supported by Bord Gáis Energy, he suggested that if politicians and key decision makers knew somebody personally or had family members who were homeless they might have a different attitude towards the crisis.

Becoming a father for the first time last February forcibly reminded him of the plight of the 3,000 Irish kids currently living in emergency accommodation.

Philly McMahon© SPORTSFILE

“We need to make sure that they don’t grow up in that kind of environment. They deserve the same chance as every other kid, but they are starting off on an unlevel playing field.

“Unless the problem is right at your front door I wonder do people care enough. But I don’t want to be seen as the person who is pointing the finger all the time. There is something good happening with the Focus Ireland Shine a Light project.

“This is what we need to focus on right now and if we can hit the goal of raising €1.5m it is going to be massive for the 3,000 kids, 1,400 families and 10,500 people who are in emergency accommodation right now.

“It is just incredible to think that there are people in emergency accommodation in this day and age. Think about this: we’re in the space age. We have a person on the world who is flying rockets into space and then landing them vertically, yet we can’t get people into accommodation.”

McMahon believes experiencing the reality of sleeping on the street for even one night or walking down the street and meeting the homeless could change all our perceptions on the issue.

Meanwhile, on a personal level the sudden death last month of Derek ‘Mono’ Monaghan shocked everybody involved in Bohemians FC. “The first day I arrived at the club he stopped me and asked me my name. I got to know him but only for a year.

“It was a sad event, but his son is around the team a lot and his family is deeply entrenched in the club. The fans still sing his name and I am sure they will keep singing it because that is how much he was loved,” said McMahon.

Focus Ireland’s Shine A Light Night, proudly supported by Bord Gáis Energy, is taking place on Friday 14 October. Further information available at focusireland.ie/shinealight/

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