By Eoghan Cormican
Páirc Uí Rinn
Didn't see this coming, did you?
The Cork footballers cruised to victory on the opening weekend of the Allianz league, but it was more the manner of their performance and the margin which separated the two teams at the finish that dominated most conversations as the 4,649 crowd spilled onto the Boreenmanna road shortly after 3.30pm.
Mind you, there was a good flock of Mayo supporters already well on the road home by that juncture, this contest wrapped up following five unanswered points from Cork at the start of the second-half.
Conor O’Shea ended a 17-minute barren spell for Mayo when kicking their first of the second-half on 51 minutes; 0-17 to 0-5 the scoreboard reading. Two more followed from sub Mikey Sweeney and Evan Regan, but whatever notions the Mayo supporters held of a comeback effort were dispelled when Brian Hurley dispatched a 56th minute penalty for a Michael Hall foul on Mark Collins. It represented Cork’s second penalty of the second-half, Rob Hennelly keeping out Daniel Goulding’s effort on 43 minutes.
From there to the finish, it was mundane fare – Mayo kicking the last five points but still finishing nine adrift of their opponents.
By half-time, Cork enjoyed a fairly tight hold on the two points on offer. A 16 minute spell between the 16th and 32nd minute which yielded nine points laid a pretty solid foundation for this opening round win, with Brian Hurley (0-2), Tom Clancy, Paul Kerrigan, Luke Connolly and Daniel Goulding (0-4) on target.
A quarter of an hour separated Mayo’s second and third points, with another 11 minutes passing before Lee Keegan, easily Mayo’s standout first-half performer, kicked their fourth white flag of the contest.
Brian O’Driscoll restored Cork’s eight point advantage approaching the break and there wasn’t a whole pile Cork did wrong when playing with the wind. Knit-picking; there was a looseness to the Cork full-back line which allowed the visitors four first-half goal chances. Two were saved by Ken O’Halloran, one drilled wide and the other, a shot by Lee Keegan, flashing across the face of the goal. Such misses were inconsequential at the finish.
Scorers for Cork: B Hurley (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees); D Goulding (0-5, 0-2 frees); P Kerrigan (0-3); L Connolly (0-2 frees), B O'Driscoll (0-2 each); I Maguire, T Clancy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Mayo: C O'Shea (0-3); E Regan (0-2 frees), J Doherty (0-1 free), M Sweeney (0-1 free), T Parsons (0-2 each); L Keeegan (0-1)
Cork: K O’Halloran; K Histon, E Cadogan, J O’Sullivan; C O’Driscoll, B O’Driscoll, T Clancy; I Maguire, A O’Sullivan; P Kerrigan, L Connolly, M Collins; D Goulding, P Kelleher, B Hurley.
Subs: B Daly for Cadogan (51 mins, inj), D Óg Hodnett for Kerrigan (56), R Deane for Maguire (58), S Hickey for Connolly, D MacEoin for Kelleher (both 63), M Collins for Histon (66).
Mayo: R Hennelly; B Harrison, G Cafferkey, L Keegan; S Nally, D Vaughan, C Boyle; T Parsons, J Gibbons; C Crowe, K McLoughlin, D O’Connor; J Doherty, C O’Shea, E Regan.
Subs: A O’Shea for McLoughlin (30 mins) M Sweeney for Crowe (44), D Drake for Vaughan (44), M Hall for Nally (48), C Carolan for O’Connor (58), P O’Hora for Keegan (61, inj).