Mayo U-21s can provide big impetus - Parsons
Published 18/10/2016 | 02:30
Tom Parsons remains confident that Mayo's collective mental strength can keep them to the forefront of the 2017 championship despite the agony of more All-Ireland final defeat piled on to them earlier this month.
Parsons was playing in his first All-Ireland final, having missed 2012 and 2013, but knows that if Mayo didn't have that mental strength they couldn't keep coming back as they do each year, and that stands to them as they put this latest disappointment behind them.
"I know a lot of the guys have played in all three and we've come up short. We carry ourselves on our history as a team," he said. "We just want to represent Mayo as best as possible.
"The age profile of the team is good. There's a huge drive, there's a huge bond in the team. I don't think miles on the clock is going to be a huge factor in us not competing or going at it for next year.
"Top teams now have to be really mentally strong. As a group, we certainly are mentally strong."
Parsons feels the seniors can benefit from an injection of youth from the All-Ireland winning U-21 team next year with players like Conor Loftus, Matthew Ruane, Brian Reape and Liam Irwin well placed to add something.
"We've proved we can come back, and what's great is the injection of that U-21 team who've won the minor and U-21 All-Ireland. They're really chasing it as well and they form a big part of our squad, that with new guys and experienced guys who have played in big games.
"If we put it together and improve, it's all there. Why not?
"Arguably this year our two best players were Brendan Harrison and Patrick Durcan. . . their first All-Ireland final and they improved massively throughout the year, and there's no reason why we can't have another two new 'finds' next year."
Parsons feels Mayo have accepted the defeat and have moved on and will take much benefit from the season they had.
"As a group we really developed during the year and our performances got a lot better," he said. "It was definitely promising to see that our best performances were in the All-Ireland final.
"The loss was tough to take. We definitely felt we performed really well and we did all the things that we talked about in training. If you want to use the term 'we threw the (kitchen) sink at it'. . . Now we're at a stage we've accepted it, we moved on."
The Charlestown man is adamant that goalkeeper Rob Hennelly will bounce back and expects everyone to make themselves available in 2017.
"It's been difficult for him but he has a strong character and he will be back training and will come back at it," he said. "And the exact same goes for the management."