Philly McMahon: 'If he plays ahead of forwards who have been there for years, you will piss them off a bit'

Eoghan O'Donnell has joined up with the Dublin football team. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Philly McMahon says that the Dublin football management need to be careful at how they integrate hurling captain Eoghan O'Donnell into the squad as it could 'ruffle a few feathers'. reported earlier this week that after exiting the championship with the hurlers, O'Donnell has joined up with Dessie Farrell's men as they prepare for an All-Ireland quarter-final at the end of June.

The Whitehall Colmcille's man has never played senior inter-county football but has been a strong performer for his club, where he plays in the full forward line - unlike in hurling where he is one of the game's best defenders.

Questions remain about where Farrell might look to deploy O'Donnell if he ultimately sees the field in competitive action, with some suggesting that he might look to use him in defence, while a 2-2 haul in a club league game during the week saw others raise the prospect of him tag-teaming with Con O'Callaghan up front.

Speaking on The Throw-In podcast, Philly McMahon said that if Farrell plays O'Donnell ahead of some established forwards, it could upset a number of squad members, but he was more open to the hurling star being used to reinforce the Dublin defence.

"The opposition will probably be looking at him and thinking that he hasn't played at this level, but [from Dublin's perspective] you look at him as a hurler and you think it's probably what we need if he can bring across that physicality, being strong, getting out in front and winning the ball and maybe being a target man, or marking a target man.

"In that way [marking a target man], the group are kind of saying, well, we need defenders so it's okay for someone to come in at this time of year and it's not just 'we are bringing him in because he is a hurler and there is this thing between the Dublin footballers and the hurlers."

"Whereas if you bring him in as a full forward and he plays ahead of the other full forwards who have been there for the last few years, you are going to kind of piss them off a little bit. So I think strategically the management have to be smart about this because it could ruffle a few feathers."

Dublin legend Ciaran Whelan had similar thoughts to McMahon, and is curious as to where O'Donnell might feature.

"The new surprised many in the capital," Whelan said.

"Dessie Farrell obviously led the approach to bring in Dublin’s hurling captain, and it suggests that Farrell has concerns around the depth of his panel.

"While O’Donnell is an outstanding defender for the county’s hurlers, he has operated in the forward line when playing football for his club, Whitehall Colmcille. I hear he was impressive, when scoring 2-2 against Templeogue Synge St, in their AFL2 clash on Wednesday night.

"It is hard to see how he can adapt to football in such a tight time-frame, especially when he has no senior inter-county football experience.

"Maybe with several defenders on the injury list – David Byrne, Robbie McDaid and Seán MacMahon – Dublin will test his defensive credentials in training over the coming weeks. Can he transfer the same man-marking, ball-winning ability he demonstrates to such a high level in hurling over to football?

"If he’s part of Dessie’s match-day plans, it will leave someone else sitting on the stand. You’d imagine all this will have been thought through in advance – and it could add to the competitive nature of their preparations ahead of their All-Ireland quarter-final."

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