It could have been much more only for the superb display by goalkeeper Martina O’Brien, and although it’s almost a decade coming, for Cora Staunton, the win wasn’t anything to gloat about.
“It’s a win, but it’s the first round of the league, so you wouldn’t really be taking too much from it. We’re happy with it, but maybe not our full performance, “ said the 10-time All-Star, who returned to training last week to pursue what will be her 22nd season playing senior intercounty football with Mayo.
“Myself, Martha (Carter) and Yvonne (Byrne) only came back last week so we’re not in the best of shape. Winter football is hard on the body. I had the option of coming back in March but you’re either all in or you’re not, so the three of us decided to stay on,” added the Carnacon player/coach.
Despite Cork opening the scoring courtesy of a point from Orla Finn, it was Mayo who looked the fitter. Of course there were notable absences - Brid Stack, Valerie Mulcahy, Deirdre O’Reilly, Eimear Scally and Geraldine O’Flynn - but there were still 10 starters from Cork’s 2015 All-Ireland-winning team, while Frank Honohan, Pat O’Leary and Con O’Sullivan manned the line in the absence of newly appointed coach Ephie Fitzgerald, who was with the Waterford footballers in Wicklow.
At half-time, the reigning champions trailed by five points (0-3 to 1-5), with Staunton netting on the 23rd minute, as well as adding four points, before finishing top scorer with 1-6. She did however miss a penalty, which saw Marie Ambrose sin-binned on the 13th minute, but O’Brien pulled off a superb save, tipping Staunton’s shot over the bar.
O’Brien was the stand-out player on a miserable afternoon, adding another two top-class saves at the start of the second-half. Cork could only manage two points in the first 22 minutes of the second-half, and it was to be their downfall. Despite the sin-binning of Mayo’s Doireann Hughes with quarter-of-an-hour to go, Cork never managed to comeback given that substitute Rachel Kearns added Mayo’s second goal just minutes before. Late points from Cork captain Ciara O’Sullivan and Emma Farmer (3) took the shine off Mayo’s win.
Elsewhere in Division 1, last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists Dublin ran out comfortable 2-14 to 1-6 winners against Munster champions Kerry, who lost the services of ace forward Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh to injury.
Niamh McEvoy netted the first of her two goals in the 18th minute to set Dublin on their way on an afternoon when Sinead Aherne returned to the starting line-up after a year out.
Dublin were coasting to a big half-time lead before Anna Galvin netted for the Kingdom to keep them in touch at the break, trailing by 1-3 to 1-8.
But McEvoy netted her second goal 12 minutes into the second half to end the contest.
The other Division 1 games between Monaghan-Armagh and Galway-Tyrone were postponed due to weather conditions.
C Staunton 1-6 (0-1f, 0-1p), S Rowe 0-2 and R Kearns 1-0.
E Farmer 0-3, B Corkery, O Finn and C O’Sullivan 0-1 each, and D O’Sullivan 0-1 (free)
Y Byrne; L Ryder, S Tierney, O Conlon; C Hegarty, M Carter, N O’Mahony; D Hughes, Clodagh McManamon; A Gilroy, F McHale, L McManamon; S Rowe, N Kelly, C Staunton.
R Kearns for L McManamon (24), G Kelly for C Hegarty (47), Ciara McManamon for Clodagh McManamon (60).
M O’Brien; M Ambrose, R Phelan, M O’Callaghan; V Foley, R Buckley, O Farmer; B Corkery, A Walsh; D O’Sullivan, A Hutchings, C O’Sullivan; E Farmer, A T O’Sullivan, O Finn.
B O’Sullivan for A Walsh (41), S Cotter for D O’Sullivan (50, inj), E Meaney for A Hutchings (53), M Corkery for V Foley (57).
S Mulvihill (Kerry)