Sunday 25 February 2018

Parsons: Now every game's an All Ireland

Tom Parsons
Tom Parsons

Mayo's provincial implosion against Galway in June was a shock, for sure - but it didn't take long for them to grasp the altered reality of 'back door' life.

"Look," says Tom Parsons, "we're in a situation now where every game that we play is essentially an All-Ireland final.

"We can't lose. So week in, week out, they're big games and the first game in the qualifiers we were drawn against Fermanagh - a really tough side, a good side.

"It's been really intensive the last three weeks, there's no doubt about it, and this week is the same leading into the Westmeath game."

A hamstring injury means Parsons has yet to feature in the qualifiers, either the fraught encounter with Fermanagh or curate's egg display against Kildare.

"I'm moving well, I'm back in training," he says. "I don't know where my status is for next weekend or if the guys will be looking at me."

Last rites

However, the grapevine suggests he will play an active role against Westmeath, either off the bench or starting, in Croke Park on Saturday (6.0).

That would make it his first qualifier experience since coming on in Pearse Park, in 2010, as Longford performed the last rites on John O'Mahony's second coming.

The Charlestown man was missing for large chunks of what followed, after being culled by James Horan in the spring of 2011 only to return in 2014, during a period when Mayo always insisted on storming through the front door.

Which makes this summer very different.

"Losing a provincial home game to Galway, in a Connacht semi-final, is just as devastating as losing any game in the All-Ireland series," Parsons points out.


"But in that situation you're blessed with a second chance and, in years gone by when we have got knocked out in the All-Ireland series, there was no second chances.

"So as a group we recognised that we had this chance to rectify the poor performance that we put in against Galway; and in doing so I feel we've played well against Fermanagh and Kildare, albeit we have a lot to improve on."

That includes against opponents rated 10/1 outsiders by the bookies.

"We're facing a Westmeath team who have had two outings in Croke Park this year, beating Kildare and representing themselves well against Dublin, and arguably for 35 minutes of the game were a better team than Dublin," Parsons warns.

"We don't know where this route will bring us but all we do know is that we can be really focused on the next game.

"Since we lost to Galway as a group, there has been a huge focus on the next game being the be all and end all."

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