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'We need to stop talking about the future of the series - it's there, it's happening' - McMahon

The Dublin star believes they have got the balance right between physicality and skill.

 McMahon and (left) Bernard Brogan celebrate.
McMahon and (left) Bernard Brogan celebrate.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DUBLIN AND IRELAND defender Philly McMahon believes the International Rules series is here to stay and has called on critics to stop talking it down.

The AllStar corner-back, who picked up a third All-Ireland winners’ medal in September, made his Ireland debut in Saturday’s four-point win over Australia at Croke Park.

The entertaining test drew almost 40,000 and after a positive outing in Perth in 2014, it is likely that the series will now be returned to a two-test format next year with one of those possibly in New York.

McMahon agreed that things are looking good for the once wobbling hybrid code and called on those who keep talking about it as a struggling concept to desist.

“I think we need to stop talking about the future of the series – it’s there, it’s happening,” said McMahon. “There was a good crowd this year and, as you can see, down in Australia there was a decent crowd at the game played there. So it’s starting to build back up.

“I suppose previous tests were a bit more physical. Now they’re getting more skilful and with the Aussies getting more skilful, the physical side of their game has changed to the technical side of it.

But that’s a good spectacle and the physicality is still there, the aggression is still there. It’s definitely not crossing the line like it used to.”

Ironically, it was the aggression shown by individual Irish players towards each other during this year’s Championship that threatened to affect the international group’s preparations.

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly infamously struck out at Mayo’s Lee Keegan during their drawn All-Ireland semi-final tie, leading to a red card that was rescinded.

In that same game, McMahon was accused of head-butting Aidan O’Shea though all four worked in harmony at the weekend while on green duty.

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Bernard Brogan, Philly McMahon, Paul Cribbin and Eoin Cadogan celebrate with The Cormac McAnallen Cup Bernard Brogan, Philly McMahon, Paul Cribbin and Eoin Cadogan with the Cormac McAnallen Cup. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

No-nonsense 28-year-old McMahon said that, for him at least, it was easy to park those issues.

“Look, I’m the type of player that if I commit to a team, I commit to the jersey that I put on,” said Player of the Year nominee McMahon.

“So if it’s for Ballmun, if it’s for Dublin, if it’s for Leinster or if it’s for Ireland, you put your grievance behind you, you battle with each other.

“And especially when you’re playing a physical sport like International Rules, you really need to be able to rely on each other. You need to have that support of the players around you.

“I think we’ve bonded a lot in the last 12 weeks and that showed in the result that we eventually got.”

McMahon spoke of how Ireland capitalised on the high defensive line utilised by Australia in the test, leaving significant space for Bernard Brogan, Conor McManus and Aidan O’Shea to exploit, firing 45 points between them.

“We didn’t know they were going to play like that but as soon as we saw the lads in space in behind, we went for it,” said McMahon. “The joy we got from Bernard inside and Conor McManus and Aidan as well was huge.

So we banged the ball in long and got joy out of that. I think then they started pushing the ‘keeper out a little bit. But yeah, that tactic worked for us and that’s how we got our scores on the board.”

The win capped a huge season for McMahon who played a central role in Dublin’s third All-Ireland title success in five seasons. There’s some down time on the horizon now with a team holiday to Thailand planned.

“We’re going on the holiday next week so to win with Ireland was the icing on the cake, for me,” said McMahon.

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Paul Keane

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