"It never affected me when someone said something about me" - McMahon on social media abuse 8 months ago

"It never affected me when someone said something about me" - McMahon on social media abuse

Philly McMahon didn't ever let the trolls get to him.

But God they did their best. A t*nker, a smack-head and a pony-riding scumbag are among the names he's been called online - and that's only in the last month.

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Good job the skin is thick.

Philly had the knives out for him back in February when, in his Irish Independent column, he said that Mayo were 'more concerned with being seen to stand up to you. That their performances were more based around quietening their critics than actually getting the best out of themselves. Feathers were ruffled.

It was direct, hard-hitting stuff from the Ballymun man and for some, with Philly getting both barrels in return, it was clearly too tough to take.

"We just have a culture in GAA that it’s acceptable that you can abuse for example a family member of a GAA player online, or maybe their community. That’s difficult because my mother or my wife might not have the resilience skills that I have.

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"That’s where it affects the wider audience and that’s where the GAA needs to get together and make sure this doesn’t become a thing that affects mental health in inter-county players, and of those young generation coming through that are seeing these abusive tweets and think it’s acceptable to do it," he says.

Philly was speaking at the launch of the 2022 Darkness Into Light run on Wednesday when, in reflecting back on his career, he discussed the online abuse he's read about himself over the years.

"I know there’s players that don’t use social media the week of a game and stuff like that. It never affected me, social media, so I never had to go off it. It never affected me when someone said something about me. But there is players that will go off it, it will affect them. I wasn’t big into reading newspapers or listening to any media, audio or whatever it may be. I was never into that. But I wouldn’t switch off social media, because I use it for work so much.

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"But look, the reason we’re talking today is Pieta House, Darkness into Light and how much that does for this country, so when we’re talking about social media, you get a little glimpse of the GAA and particularly the mindset of the stakeholders.

"Young people jumping on and abusing inter-county players. Or even adults jumping on and abusing. That’s just a reflection of how they feel, and how you made them feel. So you shouldn’t take that on board that that’s your issue. It’s more their issue inside them. That’s something they probably need support and help on."

Philly reckons the best thing to do is to be the bigger man and, in saying that Mayo have a good bunch of leaders to follow now, he might have just saved himself some bad-press from the keyboard warriors.

"The Dublin thing is not hanging over them now," he says of Mayo.

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"They have been beaten Dublin twice consecutively. They have now got new leaders in the group. The old leaders are now strengthening the bench. The new guys in don't have a history of being beaten in big games. Those things make a difference. When I first got on the Dublin team I was playing with a lot of lads that had been beaten well by Tyrone and Kerry. I didn't really care about Tyrone or Kerry. I didn't have that pain from them. 

"Mayo have had a good campaign to date. How that transfers to championship who knows? I do think, as they always are, they'll be there at the latter stages of the championship because I still think Lee Keegan is a massive leader for those Mayo lads, and Diarmuid O'Connor is a massive leader and Matthew Ruane."

Good leaders are the most important thing in a team, according to Philly, and he can't think of any better than Jim Gavin and Stephen Cluxton. He explains why he'd follow them into any battle they could ever lead him into.

"It's the trust and respect with those two. You essentially knew that, 100% of the time, what they did and the decisions they made and what information they gave and took was for the better of the group and that the whole thing was so much bigger than them two. That's not to say that the management now doesn't have that, because they would definitely have huge respect for Dessie, his management team and all that..."

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"​​They’ve a really good management team, that are learning on the job at the minute, because it’s only their third season.

"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’s the emerging leaders. Because it’s not just about the leadership, it’s not all about your captain, your manager. It’s about your leadership, your leadership group, your emerging leaders around that. And then how that rubs off on the next generation coming in."

Pictured at the launch of Darkness Into Light 2022, supported by Electric Ireland is former Dublin GAA player Philly McMahon.