Connacht champions set up Kerry showdown

Mayo 1-13 Cork 2-6

Mayo 1-13 Cork 2-6

All-Ireland champions Cork were sent crashing out of the race for Sam Maguire by marauding Mayo in a Croke Park sensation.

The Connacht champions arrived as rank outsiders, but turned in a performance laced with passion and pride as they dumped the Rebels.

Cork scored just a single point in the second half, unable to break down a superb Mayo defence on a glorious afternoon for James Horan’s side.

Cillian O’Connor led the charge with a six points tally, while Kevin McLoughlin scored the all-important goal as the westerners overturned a six points deficit to win with style.

Donncha O’Connor slotted home a penalty after just five minutes to get the All-Ireland champions off to a perfect start.

And they continued to pile the pressure on the Connacht champions with spells of typical power football, running at their opponents as they eased into a six-point lead

O’Connor, Fintan Goold and Paul Kerrigan were all on target, making it 1-4 to 0-1 by the 15th minute.

They could have had a second goal, when Kerrigan got on the end of a move involving Goold, Pearse O’Neill, Paudie Kissane and Alan O’Connor, but he blazed over the bar.

But Mayo finally settled as the game slipped into the second quarter. Up until that point, all they had to show for their efforts was a single point from a Cillian O’Connor free.

But further scores from Kevin McLoughlin and O’Connor raised their confidence and exposed weaknesses in the Rebel defence.

And in the 22nd minute, McLoughlin sliced through the Cork rearguard and blasted home a brilliant goal, narrowing the margin to a single point.

Two minutes later Cork responded with their second goal. Fiachra Lynch fisted the ball towards the far post, where Kerrigan stretched to deflect it past Robert Hennelly.

The westerners quickly recovered from this latest setback, and hit three of the half’s last four points, with O’Connor converting his fourth free.

At the break, Cork led by 2-5 to 1-6, but the sides were level five minutes after the restart.

First Enda Varley tapped over a free, then goalkeeper Robert Hennelly drove a ’45 sweetly between the posts.

And the Connacht kingpins took the lead for the first time on 43 minutes, O’Connor’s delightful pass sending skipper Alan Dillon in for a point.

It took Cork 17 minutes to get their first, and only, score of the second half, a fisted score from centre back John Miskella which brought the sides level at 2-6 to 1-9.

Corner back Keith Higgins regained the lead for Mayo, who were now winning an ample share of breaking ball around midfield, thanks to the Trojan efforts of Aidan O’Shea, after struggling in that sector in the first half.

Cork did open up the Mayo defence for substitute Mark Collins to create a goal chance for Fintan Goold, but the Macroom man failed to test the ‘keeper, blazing his shot badly wide.

Substitute Jason Doherty opened out a two points lead with a wonderful point, and there was no stopping rampant Mayo at this stage.

Cork were unable to penetrate a Mayo defence in which Higgins, Ger Cafferkey and Trevor Mortimer were excellent.

It was Cillian O’Connor who sealed the win with two late points, bringing his tally to six, and Cork finished with 14 men after John Miskella received a straight red card.

Mayo scorers: K McLoughlin 1-1, C O’Connor 0-6 (5f), E Varley (f), K Higgins, A Dillon, A Moran, J Doherty, R Hennelly (’45) 0-1 each

Cork scorers: D O’Connor 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1 ’45), P Kerrigan 1-2, J Miskella, F Goold (f) 0-1 each.

Mayo: R Hennelly, K Higgins, G Cafferkey, T Cunniffe, R Feeney, D Vaughan, T Mortimer, A O’Shea, S O’Shea, K McLoughlin, A Dillon, A Moran, E Varley, A Freeman, C O’Connor.

Subs: P J Doherty for Varley, P Gardiner for Freeman, R McGarrity for S O’Shea, L Keegan for Feeney

Cork: A Quirke, E Cotter, M Shields, E Cadogan, N O’Leary, J Miskella, P Kissane, A O’Connor, A Walsh, F Goold, P Kelly, P O’Neill, D O’Connor, F Lynch, P Kerrigan.

Subs: G Canty for O’Leary, M Collins for Lynch, N Murphy for A O’Connor, D O’Sullivan for Goold

Referee: R Hickey (Clare)

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