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joy in blue Philly McMahon has fixtures dilemma as he helps Bohs up their game

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Dual role: Dublin football Philly McMahon is hoping Bohemians can build on their stunning midweek success in Europe. Photo: Sportsfile

Dual role: Dublin football Philly McMahon is hoping Bohemians can build on their stunning midweek success in Europe. Photo: Sportsfile

Dual role: Dublin football Philly McMahon is hoping Bohemians can build on their stunning midweek success in Europe. Photo: Sportsfile

Ten minutes before kick-off at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday evening, a full-accredited Philly McMahon – clad in official Bohemians club issue – made his way to a seat in the press box, settled in and flicked open a laptop.

Over the next two hours, as Bohs pulled off a stunning victory over Greek cub PAOK in the first leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round, McMahon watched studiously, tapping away at his keyboard, imputing data onto a digital spreadsheet.

Periodically, he passed information to Derek Pender – one of Keith Long’s assistants – who, in turn, relayed messages via walkie-talkie, presumably to the Bohs bench. Bohs’ 2-1 victory sits comfortably among any European result of recent vintage by a League of Ireland club.

PAOK, with their 13 internationals – including former Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund playmaker, Shinji Kagawa – are desperately reliant now on continued European football for TV revenue and prize money.

For that reason, next Thursday’s second leg in Thessaloniki in front of an expected 25,000 fans is guaranteed to be a markedly tougher prospect. It also falls just two days before Dublin’s All-Ireland semi-final with Mayo.

“I’d have to sit down with the management and see if I missed a session or two, would that impact my chance of doing a job for the team,” McMahon revealed yesterday at the GAA’s launch of the All-Ireland SFC series.

“That’s really where it will be, I think. I have to sit down and have a chat, ask the question, ‘If I miss one or two training sessions, will that impact my role in terms of what I’m doing on the day?’”

It’s a delicate balance.

On the one hand, McMahon hasn’t played a minute of championship football this summer. On the other, he has – in recent years – been the player Dublin management have sent for late on in the biggest games, as opposition teams brought on or repositioned someone large and powerful man at full-forward in an attempt to force a goal.

Tommy Walsh. Aidan O’Shea.

Bigger men than McMahon, but the sort he delights in grappling with.

Quite what McMahon’s role is with Bohemians, he wasn’t inclined to go into specifics.

Asked that very question, the normally-effusive McMahon smiled and said simply, “It’s to help the lads perform better.”

Pressed for detail, he added – vaguely – “I’m in there to try and give them whatever I can in terms of knowledge and experience and to try and get them from A to B in terms of performance.”

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In May, when the story of McMahon linking up with Bohemians broke, the club confirmed in a short statement that he would work as a ‘first-team performance coach’.

It’s a booming industry, one where athletes freely bring experiences and expertise into other sports.

In 2013, when Bernard Dunne joined Jim Gavin’s Dublin football management team, his role was listed as ‘Sports Performance and Lifestyle coach’.

Just now, Kevin McManamon is in Tokyo as ‘Sports Psychology Consultant’ with the Irish boxers.

“Personally, I’ve always been interested in coaching people,” McMahon explained.

“Obviously, starting off at the age of 17 or 18 coaching people in the gym industry, and then working with Mountjoy (prison) and working with young athletes. I’ve always been interested in people and understanding how I can get the best out of people.

“But one of the reasons why I actually took the job with Bohs, because I knew I was going to learn from the players.

“And every day, from young players, from old players, you’re growing, you’re learning, you’re challenged.

“I suppose from a personal perspective,” McMahon added. “If I’m trying to help lads at Bohs improve their performances, that makes me more conscious of how I’m feeling or how I’m acting around the Dublin lads as well.”

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