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Opinion: Philly McMahon's indiscipline cost him Player of the Year award

Dublin corner back polarises opinion but there is no doubting the role he played in march to All-Ireland title.

PHILLY McMAHON WAS the player of the year, even though he may not be in name.

The Ballymun Kickhams clubman was Dublin’s most important contributor when it mattered most.

Across Dublin’s final two games – the semi-final replay against Mayo and the final against Kerry –  no player outscored corner back McMahon, who bagged 1-3. All while contributing massive defensive efforts against two of the game’s most feared attackers – restricting Aidan O’Shea and the ‘Gooch’ to one point between them.

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Granted, particularly against O’Shea, he had plenty of assistance the aerial battle from a number of team-mates in keeping the Breaffy man quiet but the statistics indicate the impact he had at both ends.

His peers, though, decided that the man who plays in front of him, Jack McCaffrey, was more deserving of the award – which begs the question, did McMahon’s poor disciplinary record cost him the prestigious title?

Last night’s excellent documentary ‘All-Ireland Day’ on RTÉ brought his infamous incident with Kieran Donaghy back into focus, although it hadn’t been out of focus all that long. McMahon was eventually handed a one-game ban for his hand making contact with the face of the Kerryman.

That followed an alleged head-butt on O’Shea only weeks earlier, for which it was later deemed McMahon had no case to answer.

The 28-year-old is no stranger to controversy and makes no apologies for his combative on-field approach.

He has been sent off numerous times at club and county level and had a well-publicised clash with Dublin team-mate Diarmuid Connolly in a county final replay in 2013.

The POTY award is not voted for like Australia’s Bronwlow Medal, the award for the game’s best and fairest player throughout the season.

A disciplinary indiscretion which results in a player being banned for a game automatically ensures that player is ineligible for the sport’s top individual honour. Not so officially in Gaelic football, although that may be something for the powers that be to look at.

McCaffrey was excellent throughout the year and was possibly Jim Gavin’s most consistent footballer. His frightening pace from the half-back line suits the Dublin style perfectly and he is a vital cog in their breathtaking transition from defence into attack.

He is a great ambassador for the game. He is clearly an intelligent young man, as a student of medicine, with a bright future ahead of him on and off the field.

He has already captained Dublin’s Under-21s with success and could find himself in a similar role with the senior team down the line.

But to pick him as Player of the Year ahead of McMahon using solely football as the criteria, and possibly also Bernard Brogan, is hard to justify.

Brogan scored 6-22 in this year’s championship, all bar one point from play, and had his best season in a Dublin shirt since he claimed the POTY award in 2010.

Dublin were clearly the best team in the country this year. They had key contributors all over the field. But no one had a bigger impact on them re-claiming the Sam Maguire than McMahon.

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