Tom Parsons says Mayo can rise again to the challenge
Defeat to Galway in Connacht semi-final won’t halt a side used to dealing with adversity
Mayo’s Tom Parsons as the the launch of the GPA’s new three year strategic plan. Photograph: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
There is a chapter in the Handbook of Sports Psychology which deals with adversity, and Tom Parsons recites it verbatim when discussing where the Mayo footballers go from here.
“As a group, it was another tough weekend, losing that chance to challenge for another Connacht title,” says Parsons, reflecting on Mayo’s one-point defeat to Galway in the Connacht quarter-final.
“Instead we find ourselves with another challenge in front us, and we won’t shy away from it. We’ve had challenges in years gone by, and challenges again this year, in the league. We were put to the wire, with relegation staring at us, having to go down and get results against Tyrone and Donegal, and we did that.
“Sport is about adversity. When you win, not everything is right. And when you lose, not everything is wrong. Against Galway on Sunday, it went down to the wire, we didn’t get the result we wanted.
“But this time last year, when Galway beat us, we didn’t show that fight, or that edge, going into the last quarter. I felt we did show that on Sunday, and were probably disappointed we didn’t get the draw, or to win the game.”
The Mayo midfielder is clearly well versed in this, and for good reason: this year’s adversity however appears a little more daunting as Mayo are on the tough side of the qualifier draw.
“Yeah, it us, but for us, as players, we really were looking to win another Connacht title before thinking about any All-Ireland series. We might have to play five or six games now to get to those later stages, but it’s not much different to the quantity of games if say we’d drawn against Galway on Sunday.
“So it’s still the same challenge, 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 it. It’s still ‘x’ amount of games, regardless of what route. The only thing that exists now is the qualifier route, and like anything in sport, you can’t look beyond your next game.
As for the critics, doubters even, Mayo’s way of handing them is to ignore them: “As players, and the management, all we can control is our thoughts, our process, within the group. We have no control over external influences, whether that’s people within or outside the county. So it doesn’t play a role.
“Our motivations are certainly internal, to ourselves. We don’t let the external things, positive or negative, influence those decisions, or ambitions as a squad. Last year, when we lost to Galway, we had to question ourselves a bit more because we didn’t show the fight. So this is no more a challenge than before.
“Any sportsperson has to manage to good days and the bad days. Collectively, we’ve had both, but if you’re going to win any competition to have to be able to deal with adversity, deal with the challenge. This year, again, we’ve already had challenges. So I think, I know, the appetite is there.”