By John Harrington for gaa.ie
Mayo midfielder Tom Parsons has promised he and his team-mates will face the challenge head on of trying to win the All-Ireland title through the qualifiers for the second year running.
A late comeback against Galway in Sunday’s Connacht Semi-Final came up just short as Stephen Rochford’s team lost the match by a single point having had Keith Higgins red-carded in the first- half.
Mayo will now go into a tricky looking Round 2A of the All-Ireland Qualifiers where they will could play Clare, the losers of Tyrone v Donegal, or the losers of Kildare v Meath.
“We have a challenge in front of us – and we won’t shy away from that challenge,” says Parsons.
“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.
“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.
“The game against Galway there was a real edge brought to things. A real competitive game. All the elements were there of real championship. Great to see Connacht football at that level. Went down to the wire. We didn’t get the result we wanted.
“We know we’ll have to go back, keep doing the processes we’re doing and whoever we draw in the qualifier, that brings its own challenge.”
Mayo were also beaten by Galway in last year’s Connacht SFC Semi-Final but Parsons believes there are more positives to take from Sunday’s defeat to their great rivals than there was on that occasion.
“Last year when we lost to Galway we probably did have to question ourselves a bit more because we didn’t show that fight,” he said. “We certainly showed a fight and an edge on Sunday. We just didn’t get the result.
“Probably disappointed that we didn’t get the scores to draw or win the game. That’s something that we’ll be working on.”
Mayo’s old-guard have a lot of miles on the clock by now so you’d wonder whether an arduous run through the qualifiers is the last thing they need right now.
But Parsons doesn’t think it’s necessarily a tougher route than trying to win the Sam Maguire Cup through the front door.
“No, I don’t. 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.
“To get to the knock-out stages of the competition we still have to play x amount of games, five or six games.
“We still had to do that regardless of what route we go. Our preferred route was to get to the Connacht final.
“That doesn’t exist for us anymore. What exists for us right now is a qualifier route and who that will be we’ll know next Monday.”