Saturday 22 July 2017

Parsons: Mayo can salvage season despite Tribesmen setback

Mayo's Tom Parsons in attendance at the GPA Strategic Plan launch at the GPA in Santry, Dublin. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Mayo's Tom Parsons in attendance at the GPA Strategic Plan launch at the GPA in Santry, Dublin. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Tom Parsons doesn't have to spend too long sifting through the rubble of last Sunday's Connacht SFC semi-final defeat to Galway to find a chink of light for his Mayo side.

When they went down to the Tribesmen 12 months ago, Parsons reckons the team didn't show enough 'fight' when the game was on the line. But when down to 14 men last weekend, he took encouragement how last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists took the game to the wire.

"This time last year when Galway beat us, we didn't show that fight and that edge, particularly going into the last quarter," he recalls.

"We did show that on Sunday. We really threw everything at it for the last 10 or 15 minutes. (We are) probably disappointed that we didn't get the scores to draw or win the game. That's something that we'll be working on."

Defeat means that, once again, Mayo find themselves under the microscope as they face a tricky route through the back door to rebuild their season.

They are on the 'A' side of the qualifiers that will also include the losers of this weekend's games between Meath and Kildare and Tyrone and Donegal as well as last year's All-Ireland quarter-finalists Clare.

"At this stage, there is a lot of teams out there, especially going the qualifier route, that are very difficult games to win. If the elements turn out and there is gale force winds and rain, that brings its own edge as well," adds Parsons (above).

"But regardless of who you're playing, you have to meet them at some stage of the competition. It's a challenge and we'll face it."

Despite the setback, Mayo have shown they are nothing if not resilient and Parsons pointed out that they dug themselves out of a hole in their league campaign to avoid relegation.

"As a group we'd be disappointed that we didn't beat Galway and that we don't have an opportunity to win a Connacht title, something that we didn't win last year. But we have a challenge in front of us - and we won't shy away from that challenge.

"We've had challenges in years gone by; we've had challenges this year in the league, being put to the wire with relegation staring at us for our last two games.

"We had to go down and get results against Tyrone and Donegal, and we did that. Now we have another challenge. And we'll face that head on.

"Sport is about adversity. When you win, not everything is right. When you lose not everything is wrong."

Given the miles in some of the Mayo players' legs, the longer route to the business end of the All-Ireland series has been cited as a factor that will work against Stephen Rochford's side. But Parsons believes it won't make much difference.

"We could have drawn with Galway last Sunday and that would have been an extra game. Last year we got to an All-Ireland final, it was a draw and it was an extra game. An extra one or two games, does it carry it on your legs? Not necessarily.

"If you look at inter-county training sessions and 'A' versus 'B' games across Ireland they are tough, competitive games. It's not a factor, I don't think.

"We find ourselves in a position now where we might have to play five or six games to get to the later stages of the competition.

"It's not really much different to the quantity of games if we drew with Galway.

"It's still the same challenge. If we are to get to the knockout stages we're still going to have to play the top teams of this world to get to an All-Ireland final or even contend for one."

And while some pundits believe the defeat to Galway was a sign that this team's time has passed, Parsons insists that they won't be using the commentary surrounding them as fuel as they look to rebuild their season.

"As players and as a management group, all we can control is our thoughts, our processes within the group. We have no control over external influencers, let that be people within our county or outside our county. We have absolutely no control over that.

"All we can control is our preparation for our next game, our prep for this week, our prep for the qualifier route. It doesn't play a role, it doesn't play a factor.

"Our motivations are certainly internal to ourselves and we don't let external influencers, in a positive or negative light, influence our decision-making, our thought process going into games or training or our ambition as a squad."

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