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Philly McMahon Says Mayo Will Be 'Strong Contenders' For All-Ireland

Philly McMahon Says Mayo Will Be 'Strong Contenders' For All-Ireland
By PJ Browne

Philly McMahon thinks victories in their last two games against Dublin will have lifted a weight from the shoulders of Mayo players.

Mayo defeated Dublin by five points when they met in the league at Croke Park last month, adding to their extra-time win in last year's All-Ireland semi-final.

McMahon, who retired in December after winning eight All-Ireland titles with Dublin, believes Mayo will be "strong contenders" in this year's championship.

"The Dublin thing is not hanging over them to the same extent now. They've beaten Dublin twice consecutively," McMahon said at the launch of Darkness Into Light 2022.

"They have now got new leaders in the group. The old leaders in the group are probably strengthening the bench to an extent. The new leaders don't have the history of being beaten in big games, to an extent. Maybe last year or the year before, they only experienced it.

"Those things make a difference. When I first got on the Dublin team, I was playing with a lot of lads who'd been beaten well by Tyrone, Kerry. I didn't really care about Tyrone and Kerry, without disrespecting them, I didn't have that pain from them.

'Mayo have developed their full-forward line'

"This Mayo team have had a strong league. They've been hit and miss in some previous years in league where they went down and back up. They've had a good campaign to date, how that transfers to championship, who knows, but as they always are, they'll be there in the latter stages of the championship.

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"I still think Lee Keegan is a massive leader for those Mayo lads. Diarmuid O'Connor is a massive leader. Matthew Ruane. I know Tommy Conroy is injured, but you need two or three good forwards to win an All-Ireland and dismantle a good defensive unit. Mayo have developed their full-forward line a lot over the last few years, instead of relying on Cillian O'Connor and when Andy Moran was there. Mayo have a nice balance."

Pictured at the launch of Darkness Into Light 2022, supported by Electric Ireland, is former Dublin GAA player Philly McMahon. The annual fundraising event organised by Pieta, who provide life-saving support services for those in suicidal distress and who have been bereaved through suicide, is back as the sun rises on Saturday May 7th, 2022. Sign up now at darknessintolight.ie #DIL2022 #BrighterTogether

Dublin have lost all four of their games in this season's league, and are in serious danger of being relegated to Division 2. McMahon saw struggles coming for Dublin, but "didn't see it happening this soon".

"There's a couple of things that I'm sure they're talking about in the dressing room," said McMahon.

"The first thing is momentum. They need to get into these games and make a good start. The reason I'm saying that is, when they go behind in games, teams are sitting back and it's kind of like a boxing match where they're on the ropes and you're throwing a few punches at the fella who's on the ropes but eventually, he comes out punching and leaves himself open even more.

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"So what I think is happening is that they're starting slow and then the opposition are sitting back, decreasing the chances they can get scores from. Then they're countering Dublin - just like when Armagh got that high ball into Rian O'Neill. So they need to get ahead, to transition better from defence to attack.

"They need to be more clinical in front of goal and they need to be tighter in defence in terms of the space being created in the full back line.

"It’s going to be interesting and exciting for someone that loves culture, development and performance coaching like I do, to see what leaders come out of this.

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"Because we know there’s leaders there - the Ciarán Kilkennys, Brian Fentons, Jonny Coopers, Mick Fitzs - all of those lads are definitely leaders. And they would have rubbed off on big leaders from previous years.

"So it’s going to be interesting to see now who are the emerging leaders. Because it’s not just about your captain, your manager. It’s about your leadership group, your emerging leaders around that. And then how that rubs off on the next generation coming in."

See Also: Can You Get 11/11 In Our Quiz Of The Gaelic Games Weekend?

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