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Dublin: 8°C Friday 15 January 2021
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Gaelic football could be 'much better if it went professional' says this double All-Ireland winner

However, Philly McMahon says the GAA’s amateur ethos has its benefits.

Philly McMahon in action with Dublin.
Philly McMahon in action with Dublin.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THOUGH HE HAS since moved to refute the reports, the news that Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy was even considering leaving work to focus full-time on football was enough to catch the attention of fellow inter-county players, including Philly McMahon.

The Dublin half-back has more strings to his working bow than most as the owner of, and personal trainer in, three boutique gyms — BKfitness — in the capital as well as being involved with the development of Fitfood Ireland, a company that prepares healthy versions of meals you may eat every day.

With such a busy professional life, McMahon can definitely see the benefits of stepping away from business for a year to focus exclusively on football.

“I think it’s a great idea. Kieran McGeeney did that a few years ago as well. Wouldn’t it be nice to do that if you ran your own business and being able to step back and say ‘I’m going to focus on football this year’?

“That where I hope I can get to before I finish my career. Can my businesses run by themselves without me being there? And can I give it a year and see what way it works and how well I play?

“You look at [Karl Lacey and Darran O’Sullivan]. They are still good players on what they have done already so how much better can they get? Time will tell.”

And McMahon admits the sport could improve as a spectacle if everyone went professional.

“The sport could be much better if it was professional. Think about it. The training would be more, you’d probably eat better and we’d be thinking about the sport more too. But that would have to be done from a younger age. If you changed what a footballer has done now it could be detrimental.

“If you developed that at a young age, I think the sport could go to another level, definitely. That’s what most professional sports have done.”

However, the Ballymun clubman believes there are some benefits to keeping the amateur status of the GAA.

“You won’t know until you look back on your career and see what you have done.

“I think the best thing about GAA is when you look at other sports, professional sports, and unless you are at the top of your game and are making a lot of money they don’t have a lot after they finish playing. GAA is a different story.”

“You sacrifice a lot and wonder how much more money you could be making or what else could you be doing.

“You wonder how far would you be along in terms of your goals in business if you could spend more time on it. But it’s nice to have the balance, you can’t just always focus and money and business.”

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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