Before I even started to dig into the results archive to see how we’ve fared out with Cork down the years, my thinking was that the story to be told would surely be an unhappy one. There aren’t too many Mayo supporters out there who haven’t had the experience of trudging away from Croke Park at some point over the last twenty and a bit years having seen us being beaten – more than once whipped mercilessly – by the Donkey Ayters and so my base assumption was that our complete record against them would be one of more or less complete woe. This isn’t, though, the whole story of our record against them.
For sure, our championship meetings with them – in particular, our summer clashes against them from 1989 onwards – haven’t provided us with all that much joy but we’ve had a far better return against them in the league down the years. So, maybe it’s no bad thing that it’s the league we’re playing them in this Sunday (though, as last April’s NFL final showed, we’re not always on safe territory when we come up against them in this competition either).
Our first ever meeting with them took place way, way back in the semi-final of the 1901 All-Ireland championship, a match that wasn’t played until the 17th of May, 1903. We met them at Limerick for that historic first encounter where they proceeded to inflict the mother and father of a hiding on us (even worse than the one the number they did on us in 1993).
Why we shipped such a thrashing that day is one for the historians, I guess, but maybe it could have had something to do the fact that they were already hardening up from those early clashes with the Kerrymen. For us, that meeting was the first ever competitive one we played against a county outside Connacht and a chastening experience it would appear to have been.
That 1903 meeting was the first of a total of 23 clashes we’ve had with them down the years in league and championship. Of this total, they’ve won 13 and we’ve won ten, which means that a draw on Sunday (which, by my reckoning, might in itself be enough to keep us in Division One next year if Monaghan and Galway lose again) would be the first ever stalemate between us.
I should clarify that I’m not including in this total (though I have put it in the table below) the original All-Ireland semi-final of 1916, which was played in Athlone on the 22nd of October that year. We won that match, by 1-2 to 0-2, but the Langers lodged an objection about something or other to do with the tie (perhaps it was the outcome) and so the result was annulled and the match refixed for Croke Park the following month. Our 1-2 to 1-1 win over them at HQ in the refixed semi-final remains the only win we’ve ever recorded over them in the championship and it was also the first of only two wins that we’ve managed against them in Croke Park.
But the league has been a happier hunting ground for us against them. We’ve met 16 times in all in the NFL (the first time was the semi-final of 1951, which was where we got our second and most recent win over them at HQ and you don’t need me to remind you when the last one was), winning nine times and losing seven.
Our home record against them is even more solid, with five wins and two losses from our seven meetings and you have to go back twenty years – to November 1991, in fact – to find our last home defeat in the league to them. We’ve also won both of the league clashes that have taken place between us at McHale Park, one of which took place as far back as 1952 while the other was in March 2006. In that latter clash, we won with five points to spare and players from the current panel who featured that day were Keith Higgins, Peadar Gardiner, Ronan McGarrity, Andy Moran, Alan Dillon and Trevor Howley (who came on as a sub).
Full details of our complete record against Cork are set out in the table below.