Mayo 0-11Cork 0-10
Two late pointed sideline kicks from corner-forward Cillian O’Connor were the pivotal scores as Mayo squeezed into the semi-finals of the Allianz Football League Division 1 with victory over Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Despite scoring just once in the opening 25 minutes, Mayo improved hugely in the second half, and the strong finish was pleasing for manager James Horan, especially as it looked like they might be relegated when they trailed in the second half.
“We didn’t play well but we stuck at it and kept plugging away and eventually snuck over the line in the end so we’re delighted with that,” he said.
“It’s exciting, you could hear from the crowd that there was an extra pinch of spice in how they were reacting. We just kept trying to do the right thing, it was hard to play football today but I’m just delighted with how the guys kept going,
With the strong wind behind them, Cork impressed for most of the first half, once they got going after Kevin McLoughlin’s second-minute opener for the visitors.
A free from the 45 by Daniel Goulding in the 18th minute put Cork 0-5 to 0-1 in front, Michael Shields outstanding at corner-back in a defence whose job was made easier by the ineffectiveness of the Mayo attack.
Too often, scoring chances were passed up in favour of passes sideways or backwards, with the wind a factor in the decision-making, and further pointed frees from Mark Collins and Goulding extended Cork’s advantage to six points by the 24-minute mark.
With wing-forward Andrew O’Sullivan dropping deep, Cork were continuing to frustrate the Mayo attack, but after McLoughlin and Paudie Kissane exchanged points, the Connacht side found an extra gear.
In the last six minutes of the half, they outscored their hosts by three points to nil, with Michael Conroy, Aidan O’Shea and Alan Freeman – who should have goaled – all on target to leave three points, 0-8 to 0-5, between the teams at half-time.
Cork would score just two points in the second half, though, Fintan Goold responding after Donal Vaughan opened the scoring after half-time, and then Goulding putting them ahead at 0-10 to 0-9 following points from Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea and O’Connor.
Overall the Cork forward division was labouring, however, and O’Connor tied matters with a huge sidelinekcik from the left and on 60 minutes and then repeating the trick from the right four minutes late.
Cork tried to salvage something, but late pressure failed to yield further scores, leaving selector Ronan McCarthy lamenting the failure to keep the quest for a fourth consecutive title alive.
“We had our destiny in our own hands and we failed to take advantage of that, that was very disappointing,” he said.
CORK: K O’Halloran; J McLoughlin, J O’Sullivan, M Shields; P Kissane (0-1), N O’Leary, T Clancy; A Walsh (0-1), G Canty; A O’Sullivan, F Goold (0-3), M Collins (0-1f); D Goulding (0-4, 0-3f), B O’Driscoll, P Kerrigan.
Subs: J Loughrey for O’Leary (28-half-time, blood), P O’Neill for A O’Sullivan (52), Loughrey for McLoughlin (53), B Shanahan for O’Leary (65-67, blood), L Shorten for Kerrigan (67), D Crowley for O’Driscoll (67).
MAYO: D Clarke; L Keegan, K Keane, G Cafferkey; S McHale, D Vaughan (0-1), C Boyle; J Gibbons, S O’Shea; K McLoughlin (0-4, 0-2f), A O’Shea (0-1), C Carolan; C O’Connor (0-3, 0-2 sideline, 0-1f), A Freeman (0-1), M Conroy (0-1).
Subs: E Varley for Conroy (42), R Feeney for Carolan (47), J Doherty for Freeman (58), D Coen for Varley (59-61, blood), C Barrett for McHale (63).
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).