Phil of joy | 

Dublin GAA star Philly McMahon opens up about his rollercoaster year

'I'm so excited about becoming a dad!'
Philly McMahon, Dublin Footballer, at his BEDO7 gym.

Philly McMahon, Dublin Footballer, at his BEDO7 gym.

Eugene Masterson

GAA legend Philly McMahon's rollercoaster year is on the up as he's set to become a dad.

The 34-year-old was forced to close his gym business due to the pandemic and make himself and his staff redundant.

But now things are on the up again for eight-time All Ireland winner Philly as his gym has reopened and he and his wife Sarah Lacey are expecting their first child in February.

"The big thing, when you play GAA, is there are certain sacrifices you might have to make for your career to be... at a certain standard," he tells the Sunday World in his first time publicly talking about becoming a dad.

"One of those, for many players, is not being able to have kids, so how does that impact, what does that look like?

"My father [Philip Snr, who passed away three years ago from cancer at the age of 64] - was brilliant with my nephews and my nieces, and my dad won't be able to see my child because I had to wait so long to a certain point in my career to have a child.

"But there is so much to look forward to, it has given me great energy. To be a dad is probably the most amazing thing to do and for me and Sarah it's exciting times."

Philly McMahon of Dublin celebrates with the Sam Maguire cup after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Philly McMahon of Dublin celebrates with the Sam Maguire cup after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Philly has had messages of congrats and advice from fellow teammates, many of whom are young fathers.

"You have Bernard [Brogan] with twins and Paul Flynn with twins, Darren Daly, Eoghan O'Gara, they have been able to do it [have children] while playing," says Ballymun man Philly.

"It's unbelievable to see the commitment they have had - and also {the commitment] their partners and wives would have had.

"Ultimately, the wives and girlfriends mad huge sacrifices into helping us as players achieve our ultimate goal and play for the Dubs.

"I saw what their partners and wives have done. That makes me appreciate then what I have to do in terms of helping Sarah."

Sarah, who is from Whitehall, works for the Hammerson company, which manages several large shopping centres including Dundrum, Swords Pavilions and the Ilac.

He smiles when asked if she is a football fan.

"No. I think at one point she watched the first game, she might have asked me what colour was the Dublin jersey, that's how bad she was," he laughs.

The young couple have their own home.

Philly McMahon and wife Sarah Lacey

Philly McMahon and wife Sarah Lacey

"We are very lucky that we are on the property ladder," he reveals. "We bought a nice little cottage about four years ago, so we are lucky to have a lovely home. It's close to where we are both from."

They now have a lovely problem of what to name their new arrival when he or she is born.

"When we were having the conversation of names, I was slagging Sarah saying 'we need to keep the name going'. I don't think she likes the name Philip. I was going 'Philly is a great name!'. She has definitely said no to Philomena!"

Having won his first All-Ireland 10 years ago, the Ballymun Kickhams star is unsure if he may now retire from inter county football.

"I don't know. We still have to do a debrief on the season so far, so there are a lot of variables that I have to look at," he confesses.

"Certainly the main one being having a baby coming in February when the season kicks off. [I will] then sit down with the management and see what sort of job can I do for the team, so there's a lot of variables that feed into you when you're at the age I am.

"I just don't know what's going to happen yet. That conversation I will have to have with Sarah and will have to have with Dessie [Farrell] and the management team.

"If I do retire I would have more time to spend with my family and the business, but I would also have a little bit more time maybe to do stuff socially."

Philly recently became a performance coach with Bohemians Football Club and has been giving motivational talks to prisoners in Mountjoy and Wheatfield as part of his Half Time Talk programme.

He also owns a health food company, Nutriquick, while his gym business is a big passion. He once owned four gyms but decided to focus all his energy into one big one in Finglas, but that had to temporarily close last year.

The inspirational sportsman and businessman has been asked by several political parties to stand for election.

"The difficulty I have with politics is that I don't see me making as big as an impact as what I'm doing right now," he says.

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