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Tom Parsons picks surprise game as favourite in Mayo jersey

tom parsons dublin

“I have a really stark memory of the final whistle, bent over with my hands on my knees and I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t breathe, I thought I was having a panic attack.”

Tom Parsons has chosen his greatest memory in a Mayo jersey, and it’s not a game that ended in victory for the Westerners.

tom parsons mayo

Tom Parsons.

Parsons had previously chosen been a member of the team that won “five Connacht titles in a row” as his most cherished in football.

However, when asked after retiring this week, Parsons singled out Mayo’s agonising one-point defeat to Dublin in the 2017 All-Ireland football final.

While Mayo ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline that day, Parsons remembers it fondly.

Speaking to Malachy Clerkin in the Irish Times, Parsons said: “I remember doing an interview a few years ago and being asked, ‘What’s your greatest memory?’ And I said, ‘Being part of the team that won five Connacht titles in a row.’

“But really, it’s not. We beat Sligo in that final and we had them beaten out the gate long before the end of it. I performed fairly well and we won but that’s not a game that sticks in my head.

The former Mayo midfielder recalls the buzz of the game and playing in front of a full-house in Croke Park. It was two amazing teams giving it absolutely everything.

“Because really, my greatest memory is the 2017 All-Ireland final. In terms of emotions, positive and negative, that’s it.

“We had been on a 10-game run, every game was a battle, ending in a 76-minute battle with Dublin.

“I have a really stark memory of the final whistle, bent over with my hands on my knees and I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t breathe, I thought I was having a panic attack.”

Dublin-Mayo 2017.

Despite a distraction of Lee Keegan’s GPS, Dean Rock’s slotted over the winning free in the 76th minute to seal Dublin’s three-in-a-row.

Parson remembers the sheer exhaustion at the final whistle. Even though Mayo had come out on the losing side again, that moment still sticks with him.

“My legs were like jelly, my brain was dizzy, I was just absolutely exhausted. I remember looking to my left and right and every player on the pitch was just wiped.

“You’re trying to digest the emotions and there’s 80,000 people looking down at you. But in that moment, you know that you just gave it absolutely everything and that your teammates gave it absolutely everything and your opponents gave it absolutely everything.

“And you came up just short. Respect. That’s the battle.”

“That’s the buzz. The opportunity to test your absolute ability, win or lose. And you can’t replicate that in life.

“I had that feeling after games that we won as well, even the Kerry semi-final that year.

“But that moment will stay with me, even though we lost. Because there was nothing more anyone could have done.”

The 2017 All-Ireland football final is widely regarded as one of the greatest games of gaelic football ever to be played.

Tom Parsons picking it as his greatest memory only adds to the magic of it.

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