All-Ireland Championship: Cork rocked by magical Mayo
Cork 2-06 Mayo 1-13: Cork, who won both the National League and All-Ireland crowns last year and have already retained their league title this term, were sent spinning out of the race for ‘Sam’ by an inspired Mayo side in yesterday’s titanic quarter-final blockbuster at Croke Park.
The Connacht champions, drawing on hitherto latent reserves of power, craft and teamwork, overwhelmed the Rebels in the second-half to book a semi-final meeting with Kerry.
Not only did Mayo restrict their opponents to just one point in the second-half but they produced their own sublime ration of finishing skills, best highlighted by Cillian O’Connor, Kevin McLoughlin and man of the match Andy Moran that made a mockery of their pre-match odds.
When Donnacha O’Connor drilled home a penalty after just five minutes, it looked as if Cork might assume total command even at that early stage.
This belief hardened when O’Connor (2), Paul Kerrigan and Fintan Goold swept over points that fired the All-Ireland champions into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead.
But Mayo had no intention of raising the white flag.
When Kevin McLoughlin followed up his 20th minute point with a spectacular goal two minutes later, the westerners were very much back in business at 1-4 to 1-3.
And even when Kerrigan flicked in Cork’s second goal in the 24th minute, Mayo’s spirit and resolve remained intact, Moran steering over a majestic point before Cillian O’Connor pointed his third free.
Kerrigan and O’Connor traded further points prior to the break by which stage Cork held a tenuous 2-5 to 1-6 lead.
But their title obituary was scripted in the opening minutes of the second-half.
Enda Varley, Robbie Hennelly and Alan Dillon were on target to thrust Mayo into a 1-9 to 2-5 lead and they went on take a stranglehold of the game fortified by a magnificent defence and an incessant overall work-rate.
Cillian O’Connor brought his personal haul to six points while defender Keith Higgins and substitute Jason Doherty shut the game out for the Rebel county who became increasingly frustrated which culminated in John Miskella being red-carded in the 70th minute.
Cork: A Quirke; E Cotter, M Shields, E Cadogan; N O’Leary, J Miskella (0-1), P Kissane; A O’Connor, A Walsh; F Goold (0-1, free), P Kelly, P O’Neill; D O’Connor (1-2), F Lynch, P Kerrigan (1-2). Subs: M Collins for Lynch (47 mins), N Murphy for O’Connor (61), J O’Sullivan for Goold (63). Yellow cards: O’Connor (31 mins), Shields (63). Red card: Miskella (70).
Mayo: R Hennelly (0-1, ‘45’); K Higgins, G Cafferkey, T Cunniffe; R Feeney, D Vaughan, T Mortimer; A O’Shea, S O’Shea; K McLoughlin (1-1), A Dillon (0-1), A Moran (0-1); E Varley (0-1), A Freeman, C O’Connor (0-6, all frees). Subs: J Doherty 0-1) for Varley (47 mins), P Gardiner for Freeman (57), R McGarrity for S O’Shea (58), A Campbell for McLoughlin (64). Yellow cards: A O’Shea (18 mins), Vaughan (23), Freeman (29).
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).