Cork 0-11 Mayo 0-16: in the final thanks to our own efforts

Mayo-v-CorkWith the sun shining brightly and the temperature not far off 20 degrees, it felt very much like the first day of summer down in Cork this afternoon.  The sun shone on Mayo too as the lads eased into the NFL final, seeing off a listless home team on a scoreline of 0-16 to 0-11.  But happy and all as we were to lap up all that post-match plámás from the locals (they’ve learned a thing or two from their next door neighbours in this respect, it would appear), we knew damn well that this wasn’t anything like the kind of attitude we can expect to see from Cork when we meet at Croke Park in a fortnight’s time to decide this year’s NFL spoils.

The drive down from Dublin in the hazy spring sunshine was, with motorway most of the way, a complete breeze and we were parked up less than ten minutes walk from Páirc Uí Chaoimh by one o’clock. “Ye’re going the wrong way, lads!” Seán Bán Breathnach called to us, screeching to a halt when he saw all the Mayo jerseys heading up the hill away from the ground.  “You’re going to the wrong game!” we shot back, explaining to SBB that we were in search of a pre-match feed, followed by the locals for dessert.  The chow, at the Silver Key, went down a treat and so did the dessert.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh was empty enough when we took our seats in the stand but when the team emerged it was obvious that there was a good, vocal Mayo crowd there, so much so that – apart from the red and white goalposts – it never felt too much like an away game.  The Cork crowd, like their team on the field, were probably keeping their powder dry for HQ in a fortnight’s time but we knew we had a job of work to do this afternoon and it was good to see that the Mayo supporters had travelled the long distance in sizeable numbers to help get the team over the line.

We started with Chris Barrett in the corner instead of Keith Higgins, Ger Cafferkey back instead of Kieran Conroy at full-back and Mark Ronaldson on at corner-forward in place of Enda Varley. Otherwise, the side was the same as the one that had started against Monaghan the last day. For Cork, both Michael Shields and Anthony Lynch cried off before throw-in, with Jamie O’Sullivan and Brian O’Regan replacing them.

Shortly before hostilities commenced, Johnno and Conor Counihan met up down in front of us for a little chat and such was the lack of urgency displayed by both teams in that opening 35 minutes that it would have been easy to conclude that the two chiefs had concluded some kind of verbal non-aggression pact. The sides went in level at seven points each following that soporific half, with Cork – despite all their changes – looking the more lively and inventive of the two.

We grabbed the lead with Alan Dillon pointing from play within 40 seconds of the throw-in and, after Fintan Goold cancelled this out with a point from play, the Ballintubber man  restored our lead five minutes later from a free, following a foul on Aidan O’Shea.  Goold was quick enough to cancel this one out too.

Frees from Conor Mortimer and Dillon put us two ahead but a point from play from Kevin McMahon and a long-range free from Donncha O’Connor – whose strong, direct running was already causing Trevor Howley some bother – levelled it up at the end of the first quarter.

A Colm O’Neill free was cancelled out by Conor Mort, who sent a beauty sailing over from way out on the right following some neat interplay with Aidan O’Shea.  The two lads were combining effectively in the full-forward line and they continued to do so all afternoon, with the Cork backs struggling to come up with any clear plan about how to stop them.

The match then entered an odd scoreless phase, which lasted at least ten minutes and which saw chances spurned at both ends.  Eventually, John Hayes landed one for Cork and the same player then got away with two hops before knocking over a second in as many minutes to send the home side two clear with half-time approaching.  We made good use of the two minutes of added time, though, with Chris Barrett sprinting upfield to land a fine point from distance and then Seamie O’Shea, claiming the ball straight from the kickout, lamped over the equaliser.  There was even time for Tom Parsons and Trevor Mortimer to kick two poor wides before the short whistle sounded.

The news from Omagh that the Dubs were beating Tyrone out the gate was what was concerning most of us during the break and one suspects that it was top of the agenda underneath us in the dressing room as well.  Few had expected such a turn of events – I was convinced Tyrone would win that one with a bit to spare – but the Dubs’ strong display up north meant that if we wanted to make the league final, we’d have to get up and dance for the right to be there.  And, as the world and its spouse now knows, this is exactly what we did.

The outcome of the match was, to all intents and purposes, decided in that opening five minute spell at the start of the second half.  The lads were back out on the field early chomping at the bit to get going and once the ball was thrown in, we tore into Cork with some real intensity all over the field.  Every ball was fought for, every challenge made was a fully committed one and every time we got possession, we had men making themselves available and seeking to exploit what openings were available.

Mark Ronaldson set us on our way with a point from play within seconds of the restart and Andy Moran added a second just after.  Conor Mort smashed over a third from a possible goal chance soon after when the rampaging Donie Vaughan combined brilliantly with Trevor to unlock the creaking Cork backline.  Aidan O’Shea then turned over possession and fed Andy who punched over to send us four clear and an Alan Dillon free stretched the lead to five.

The seriousness of our intentions was emphasised just after this scoring barrage as Tom Parsons, who was struggling a bit on the influential Nicholas Murphy, was withdrawn in favour of Pat Harte.  Johnno was clearly in no mood to see this potential match-winning lead compromised and Harte’s more combative approach around the middle third made it more difficult from then on for the home team to create any kind of attacking platform from out around the middle.

Ciaran Sheehan finally got a point back for Cork but at the other end Donie Vaughan should have put us out of sight when he knifed his way clean through and should have simply waltzed around Alan Quirke in the Cork goal and tapped the ball into the net.  Instead, he went for power and blazed his shot over the bar.

Donncha O’Connor, whom Trevor Howley had now largely quietened, then pointed a free for them but Aidan O’Shea – now clearly enjoying his day out by the Lee – responded with two fine efforts from play, as we pulled six clear.

Three frees – two for them and one for us from Conor Mort – closed out the scoring, although sub Alan Freeman (who’d come on for Alan Dillon) almost had a goal for us right at the death.  In truth, it wouldn’t have mattered as we won pulling up at the end, with Cork having visibly lost interest in the contest after our point-fest just after the restart.

Cork’s failure to engage in the second half obviously devalues today’s win somewhat but we shouldn’t let that concern us tonight.  The important thing from today was that at half-time the lads were faced with the prospect of missing out on a place in the league final unless they went out and took the game by the scruff of the neck.  The efficient way they went about doing this was very impressive and that intense ten-minute spell early in the second half was enough to win the game for us today.  It wouldn’t be enough to win the league final, of course, but then again we weren’t playing in the league final today.

We had strong performances all over the pitch today.  David Clarke was very solid between the sticks but the highpoint of his day was the way he took out one of their forwards who’d come bearing down on goal in the second half.  I’m not sure if he got a card for his efforts but Clarke’s take-no-prisoners attitude averted what could have been a goalscoring chance.

The full-back line did well throughout, with Liam O’Malley getting bugger all gip from the highly vaunted Colm O’Neill and where Chris Barrett was good both defending and going forward, notching a fine point in the process at the end of the first half.  It was good too to see Ger Cafferkey come back in and enjoy a comfortable enough seventy minutes.

The half-backs had a tough enough first half, especially Trevor Howley who found Donncha O’Connor a bit of a handful.  It’ll be very interesting to see how this match-up goes at Croke Park in two weeks time.  All three lads enjoyed a better second half, in particular Donie Vaughan who came forward with all guns blazing more than once.

Seamus O’Shea had another immense game at midfield, where he worked hard all day and kept a good supply of ball going into the forwards, notably to his kid brother.  Tom Parsons faded when Nicholas Murphy came on but Johnno at least had the good sense to see this and Pat Harte did well to neutralise Murphy’s influence when he came on for the Charlestown man.

Andy Moran was his usual busy self, scoring two important points early in the second half, but his most noteworthy contribution was when Graham Canty came barrelling into him in the first half and came off very much second-best from the challenge, leaving the field injured soon after. Alan Dillon was in the thick of things throughout but looked to be still feeling the effect of that injury and he should probably have been allowed to put his feet up a bit earlier than he was. Trevor had a fitful first half but put in a very strong second half, where he roamed wide, hit hard and linked effectively as we moved the ball forward.

Mark Ronaldson, who played much of the day in the ‘hole’ between the half-forward and full-forward lines had a quieter day than he would have liked but he did get the first point in that purple patch at the start of the second half.

Conor Mortimer and Aidan O’Shea played well off each other, even if the ball into them was a bit uneven, especially in the first half. What was really noticeable was that the Cork backs didn’t seem to have the first notion how to handle them and they ended up conceding several frees within scoring range, almost all of which we converted.  Throw Enda Varley into that mix at HQ the next day and we could have great fun entirely.

We went down to Páirc Uí Chaoimh with one aim today, which was to secure our place in the league final.  In going there, we knew that Tyrone might well do the job for us but the fact that they didn’t makes our achievement all the sweeter to savour, as we’re in the final on merit and we’ve made it there as a result of our own efforts.  A twelfth NFL title is now within our grasp and while we can expect Cork to fight a whole load harder the next day at Croke Park, we know our lads can up it too and up it they surely will.

That’s one for another day; today was all about making that day possible.  In that sense, it was a good day’s work today and the lads deserve our praise for doing the job that was put in front of them.  If they handle the task facing them in the final with the same commendable attitude, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t find ourselves in the unusual position of leaving Croke Park with smiles on our faces.

MAYO: David Clarke; Chris Barrett (0-1), Ger Cafferkey, Liam O’Malley; Donal Vaughan (0-1), Trevor Howley, Kevin McLoughlin; Tom Parsons, Seamus O’Shea (0-1); Andy Moran (0-2), Alan Dillon (0-4, three frees), Trevor Mortimer; Mark Ronaldson (0-1), Aidan O’Shea (0-2), Conor Mortimer (0-4, two frees).  Subs: Pat Harte for Parsons, Alan Freeman for Dillon.

PS: The lack of photos with this report wasn’t, by the way, due to my not having a camera with me today.  Instead, it’s explained by my ongoing laptop problems – this venerable old dame’s USB ports are no longer functioning so I can’t get the pics off the camera.  Hopefully normal service will resume in time for the final.

25 thoughts on “Cork 0-11 Mayo 0-16: in the final thanks to our own efforts

  1. Good win. Think Cork took their foot of the pedal in second half. Some day for watching a game. If only we could head to a beer garden now instead of having to sit in a car and drive back to Mayo!

  2. don’t have that complaint in a beer garden now in the heart of cork! Happy days to be in the league final. Finish the job now lads..

  3. Good game today, thought the referee was pretty good too, a bit whistle happy but his decisions for the most part were spot on. While Cork did take the foot off the pedal in the second half I think our excellent start to the half may have helped.
    Same again in Dublin please !

  4. Was at the game and fair play to all the Mayo supporters who showed up today.We had a great support today.We played very well at times today but cannot fall asleep like we did during the first half in the league final.

    David Clarke as always was very solid between the posts and pulled off a superb save in the opening stages.In the backs,I was very impressed again with Vaughan,O Malley and Kevin Mc.Chris Barrett was lively but drifted away from his man at times.The backs worked very hard at times and hassled the Cork forwards every time they got on the ball.In the first half we were very open at centre half back and Cork waltzed through the centre every time they wanted.This is still a problem position for Mayo.Hopefully Cunniffe will be up to the task sooner rather than later.

    In midfield Tom Parsons drifted in and out of the game and missed a very scorable point.Seamie worked his socks off but will need to pick it up another notch for the final.It will be good to have Ronan ready to spring from the bench in final if needed.

    In the forwards was delighted with Aidan O Shea today.Every time he got on the ball he looked dangerous and was being fouled for pretty much all of the game.Dillon was solid but not match fit yet. Ronaldson popped up on the end of some good moves and Freeman threatened when he came in.Was unlucky not to find the net in the closing stages.Trevor and Conor need to up their performance in a big way for the league final.The pair of them must have notched up ten wides between them.

    All in all a good performace but dont think that Cork will be too bothered with the result. They were completely listless in the second half but will be a much different prospect in the final.Mayo have a great chance to bring home some silverware and its up to the fans to get behind the team and travel in numbers to Croker in two weeks time. It would be nice have to have some silverware and would be the perfect springboard for the championship.

  5. well done mayo on one thing conor mort the most overated player in my opiion very average ten wides thats bad

  6. Please – not more Conor Mort criticisms on a day that we’ve won! I assume you mean ten wides in total, as Conor only had about four by my reckoning. He scored a peach of a point from well out in the first half and the Cork backs didn’t seem to know how to handle himself and Aidan O’Shea.

  7. Agree with you there Willy Joe. Mort hit a couple if crackers today and worked his ass off.
    noticed Aiden OShea had lost weight today. He must be working on it.
    No complaints here. Full back line excellent. Alan Dillon unreal. Here’s to a good day in croker!

  8. Great win lads. Fair play to those who travelled. it makes a difference to the players. Lets not worry about Cork now. Lets get ourselves right and go to Croker confident. In a year of tests this is another one. One last thing, just spent an hour watching Sunday Sport. Who the fuck can they spend one hour talking about football and not mention Mayo winning ONCE. What is the story?

  9. Absolutely right about the crowd, r51: great Mayo support down there today and I’d say the team got a real lift from it. Agree 100% re RTE’s coverage which is sadly typical of the way they cover the league. They should give up covering it altogether because their so-called highlights are a complete joke. If TV3 had any sense, they’d get in there, do the job properly and then pinch all the championship games the next time they’re up for grabs!

  10. That was a good day at the office.

    From the off, it was clear that Conor Counihan had his homework done when he moved Derek Kavanagh (a recognised midfielder) onto Aidan O’Shea. There is a lesson to be learned here. I don’t think that Kavanagh played at No 3 for Cork before, but Mayo had a big threat on the edge of the square and Cork moved to neutralise it. And the tactic worked for almost all of the first half when Aidan O’Shea struggled to make an impact. In fact, the young Breaffy man only really got going when Kavanagh went off injured – and then he really made hay, as Counihan had no one else that could handle him.

    The other thing that showed Counihan’s tactical prowess was in pulling off Jamie O’Sullivan – who was struggling with Tom Parsons – and replacing him with Nicholas Murphy. After that, every long Cork kick out went to Murphy and he caught a load of them until Johnno showed a bit of his own grey matter by putting on a high fielder of his own (Pat Harte) on and calling Tom ashore.

    Apart from this, the game was really a bit of shadow boxing in the first half, followed by a sublime Mayo spell in the first 10 mins of the second half, followed by a grind to the finish. All on the field did what was asked of them, particularly in the second half when there was a lead to be defended. And even then we could have won by more. There were a few half chances for goals that would have left us winning in a canter, but they just didn’t fall right and in a way, we are as well to have won by the margin of 5. Any more would only have raised the hype. As we are now, we will still be underdogs the next time out.

    Looking at it line by line, I thought the full back line did well. In the first half, Cork was kept well out – they had only one shot at goal in the entire game and that is a good return. Most of the Cork scores came from frees or from 30 metres + out after being forced to work hard to get a shooting position. Our half backs struggled a bit in the first half, but in the 2nd half, our half forwards dropped back a bit more when Cork attacked and this denied Cork the shooting opportunities. We began to win back the ball when Cork were still looking for a shooting position and then our half backs grew in confidence.

    At centrefield, Sheamie O’Shea gets better every time he togs out and, at the appropriate times, Tom and Pat did what was asked of them. I did wonder at times in the first half why we persisted in kicking high balls into Conor Mort. He is a great man to give a chest high ball to, but when being marked by a six footer, I don’t understand why he was expected to win so much in the air. At best, he can only break it in these situations and this often ends with us losing possession.

    In the first half, the half forwards seemed a bit at sea, but the 10 min spell at the start of the second half was largely as a result of an upping of the work rate in this line. In fact, for the second half generally, this line was excellent. However Alan Dillon is clearly not yet fully recovered from his recent injury and should have been called ashore earlier. Alan Freeman did well when he came on and showed how dangerous he is by almost getting the ball in the net near the end.
    The full forward line had excellent patches and worked hard as a unit. However, sometimes they were well shackled and to cope with that they need to be more mobile and pull their markers away to make space for each other. But all three played well and it is particularly good to see Aidan plugging away so hard. His reaction after getting that point near the end showed that he is enjoying his football again – a frightening thought for any full back!

    About 18 months ago, in a post to this site, I asked where would the leaders emerge in this team, and I was struggling to find them. But today – as in other games in the league – they continued to emerge. Barrett’s surging runs, Vaughan’s use of space, Sheamie’s strength around the middle and Aidan’s continued growth into the No 14 role, all point to the effect of the new lads in the squad. But the older lads are also stepping up to the mark much more and they seem to be enjoying their football much more. For too long, we watched good Mayo footballers become wracked with doubt when something would go against them. This seems to have changed. There is a more positive work ethic in the team now, and leaders are emerging all over the field. I don’t know what Johnno is doing differently this year but I just hope he keeps doing it!

    For years we have been saying that the only thing wrong with Mayo football was attitude. Well I saw nothing wrong with the attitude today. And we will all travel to HQ in 2 weeks for the next instalment. It could be a long Summer yet!

    Keep the Faith!

  11. It’s great being in the final but I am very weary of a false dawn ala Pat Holmes era league win. The league is great to shake off the winter wool but does any of this show anything extra that we didn’t already know? apart from Shamie and ronn,y have we found a new dynamic? Our whole team is full of players who have been there before so as much as league would be nice, Sam is where we need to focus our effort’s. Fairplay to the lad’s and great effort though, They do us proud win,lose or draw so even If it is a false dawn then we will still be proud of the lad’s who tog out for the Green and Red!

  12. Great to be in the league final – delighted for another big day out in Croke Park.

    I dont think we fully appreciate how lucky we are to have a competitive team that always gives us something to shout about.

    Living in the Uk I cant access the highlights on rte – does anyone have any suggestions on where I can find highlights from the Kerry game? Itching to see Conor’s four points – I heard they were crackers.

    I agree with some of the previous posts – Mayo have had next to no coverage from what I can follow – which is mainly the online papers. Its seems the biggest game of the week is always the Dublin game.

  13. Roll on the final , excellent post there fourgoal..

    Can’t agree with your there Austy , i think the league shows a hell of a lot , its whether the manager has the nous to read the well you know what I mean !!

  14. Well Fourgoal, I’d have to disagree with a couple of points. As An Spailpin said Kavanagh has lined out for Cork before at full back and in more than the match highlighted by An Spailpin, he’s also played fullback for Nemo at times.
    That said, I was at the game today and I thought Aidan had the beating of him right from the start, he couldn’t handle him at all and I think a couple of points in the first half came from fouls by kavanagh on him.
    It’s great to be in a league final but I’d be cautious enough. By my reckoning Cork have about 7 players at least to come back into the team, Alan O’Connor, Paddy Kelly, Paul Kerrigan, Pearse O’Neill, Anthony Lynch, Eoin Cadogan and Michael Shields. They’ll be an entirely different prospect in Croker!
    Mayo have an interesting problem if Varley comes back for the final. Either Connor or himself will need to play in the right corner which doesn’t suit either of them. We might be a little more balanced with Ronaldson and either or Connor or Varley in the other corner. Just a thought.

  15. Great win if only to instill a bit more confidence. For the first time in a long time ( 96 or 97) i was confident that we could win the game if it was tight..i surprosed myself at how confident i was ..I subconsciously have begun to believe in this team. They seem to believe in themselves. when Cork went 2 up before half time i was still comfortable. Last year i would have been resigned. Anyway we all know it was suspiciously easy yesterday and Mahony will have all the boys well grounded for the final but what it will do is give us even more confidence. Cork will still be favourites and rightly so but what i will say is that if its tight with ten to go Ill back our guys to push for him in an untypical mayolike way.

  16. It seems that my knowledge of Cork football is sadly lacking, particularly in relation to Kavanagh. And though there are those who disagree with me on how well he did on Aidan, I think that we will see him adopt the same role again the next day.

    Just thinking about it again since I wrote the earlier post, our full forwards DID put on a fair bit of pressure in the first half and drew a few fouls. In fact I thought that the Cork No 20 (I think it was Barry O’Regan) was very lucky not to get a second yellow at one stage.

    And one final thing. I liked the dual approach to the audio match report. I didn’t get it till I was back at base last night, but it still had a fresh feel about it – even at that stage. Fair play to you, you are continuing to expand the repertoire of services to Mayo supporters.

    Keep the Faith!

  17. RTE are a disgrace people. I email them constantly without response about this issue. Yesterday tops the lot however. We have Setanta and TG4 showing games throughout the league campaign which are then shown again in detail in the Sunday Sport programme, especially if its Dublin regardless of what division they are in, or their league position. We do have access to other channels RTE! .
    Granted yesterday their game was the game the day, but as Willie Joe states today, it was the meeting of the top two and we needed a result, so a few minutes highlights and analysis should be the least we expect . Shocking and frankly disgraceful attidude towards one of the best supported counties in Ireland from our national broadcaster.
    I find it hard to criticise TG4 due to their programme on monday night which puts RTE to shame but our game should have been the deferred game yesterday particularly after the result in Omagh.
    Being in Division one for so long, should demand respect which we are not getting as one of the top five teams in the country ,no matter what statistic you look at.

  18. Kiwi – I had a Twitter exchange last night with someone from RTE who pointed out that it’s Setanta and TG4 that have the rights to the matches so they can only show the games the others cover, which explains why they always do this. While that’s okay as far as it goes, what is still so shocking about RTE’s performance is that, apart from giving the score of our game, there was no mention or panel discussion on the match or the fact that the teams would be meeting again in the final, nor was there any debate about how this contest – one of only two national finals on the inter-county scene – might go. They just don’t give a toss and it shows so clearly.

    FourGoal – great summary of the match last night. If you’d done it a few hours earlier, you could have saved me the trouble of writing anything! You’re right about that Barry O’Regan incident – he was already on a yellow when he clotheslined the Mort. Definite yellow but the ref bottled it – plus ca change for GAA refereeing. Glad you liked the audio by the way – The Brother really got stuck in there alright. I’ll show him how the volume controls work, though, before I let him loose on it the next time.

    Prizelamb – there was a link floating around somewhere for the highlights of the Kerry game (I’m almost sure it was from TG4) but I can’t find it at the minute. If I do locate it, I’ll post it here.

  19. Great result yesterday, well done to the lads.
    Good to see great mayo support yesterday, a lot of green & red, i think we outnumbered cork supporters by 2 to 1, even johno mentioned it on midwest.
    Roll on the final, i believe this team can win it!

  20. Willie Joe. Thanks for letting me know. RTE dont even have the decency to respond to the emails I sent them regarding this. Thank god for mid west and Ryanair!!

  21. I wonder could we use that as one of the classic ‘excuses’ for not paying the license fee!
    “No I dont have a license……….Ye wouldn’t show the Mayo Cork highlights. So I have to spend the money going to the matches instead. So there!”.

  22. re: diehard,
    Bet they never heard that one before!

  23. just being confirmed the div 1 & div2 finals in croke park 25th april.
    Armagh v Down 2 o’clock
    Mayo v cork 4 o’clock

  24. So no double header with the hurling… That’s a pity. Liked Johnnos suggestion!

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