Donna Ahern talks to former Dublin GAA footballer Philly McMahon about his recent partnership with Tesco Ireland.
You recently teamed up with Tesco Ireland in a new pilot programme that will provide thousands of meals to feed children and families across Ireland. Can you tell me about Stronger Starts?
I was delighted to be asked to be part of the Tesco ‘Stronger Starts’ campaign, which is a pilot programme, in partnership with The Good Grub Initiative, that will provide 1,000 school children and their families with free nutritious food packages each week.
These packages will contain potatoes, carrots, onions, and apples delivered directly through the DEIS school network in Ireland.
The aim of the campaign is to support these children and their families in preparing healthy meals at home.
Why did you take on the role of Brand Ambassador for the Stronger Starts programme?
I’m delighted to lend my support and voice to Tesco and Good Grub to spread awareness for this initiative and to give back to communities all over the country.
I have seen first-hand how giving children and their families the strongest start possible can make a positive difference in their lives and the lives of others.
I am a firm believer that if you give someone the strongest start in life, they can go on and become anything, and the programme speaks directly to that belief. As part of the campaign, I have re-created some of my go-to healthy homemade dishes to show how simple it can be to enjoy healthy and nutritious food at home. Keep an eye out on mine and Tesco Ireland’s social channels to see the final result – I was pretty happy with them!
You recently said that giving back to your community has always been a top priority for you. Can you explain why?
Throughout my footballing career, my local community always showed me unwavering support, and I have tried to pay that support forward over the years.
It is important to me to give back to the community and contribute in a meaningful way, whether that is through initiatives like ‘Stronger Starts’ that support children and their families, my charity
Half Time Talk, which is a mentorship programme that educates and trains young, unemployed adults in communities across Ireland to unlock their potential, or even coaching local football teams to become the next GAA All Star!
Who was the strongest opponent that you faced during your football career with Dublin?
I think for me, the hardest players I have faced have been the Dublin players that I’ve marked over the years while I played at Club level.
They would be the likes of Bernard Brogan, Eoghan O’Gara and Jack McCaffrey. More recently, it has been Paddy Small or Dean Rock, players that are on the rise, who have proven to be my strongest opponents on the pitch.
What has been the highlight of your sporting career to date?
Back in 2010, Dublin were drawn against Armagh and up until that point, the team wasn’t having a great season.
But we were on form that day and I happened to block a goal after it got past Stephen Cluxton.
Saving that goal meant we went on to win the match, which was a real boost for the team facing into the rest of the season.
What is the best advice you have received?
Decide what is important and do it first every day. We always think we have more time than we do, so it is very important to prioritise and do what matters.
Tell me something about yourself that we don’t already know?
People may not know that I am learning to play the saxophone.
I love house music and my mam bought me a saxophone as a Christmas present one year and I’ve been practicing it on and off over the years.
Now that I have retired from football, I have more free time, so I’m going to try and take my ability to the next level!