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Just like old times again for Mayo ladies

Sport

OUTSTANDING Cora Staunton skips away from Cork’s Bríd Stack during Saturday’s game. Pic: Sportsfile

Reflections
Mike Finnerty

THE scenes at the final whistle in Cavan last Saturday evening told the story. As Mayo players celebrated a famous win that earned them a place in their first All-Ireland final for ten years, Cork’s ladies cried openly as the reality of surrendering their title dawned.
There’s nothing quite like a one-point defeat to magnify the thin line between ecstasy and agony, and Mayo know this better than anybody, having lost to Dublin by a kick of a ball at the same stage 12 months ago.
Now it turns out that Mayo will get a chance to right the wrongs of that controversial defeat on Sunday, September 24 at Croke Park when they take on Dublin in the ladies showpiece for the first time since 2003.
For the record, Mayo won that game by 1-4 to 0-5 and, believe it or not, Cora Staunton didn’t score that day!
The Carnacon colossus will get a chance to set that record straight later this month when she lines out in her seventh All-Ireland senior final, 18 years after her maiden voyage.
Cora was Cora against Cork last Saturday.
Looking lean and mean, she bent the game to her will, was at her irrepressible best, and finished with 1-9 and the Player of the Match award.
“It was some match, really tense from start to finish,” she told TG4 afterwards.
“Fair play to Cork, they’re the team we’ve aspired to be for the last ten years. I have massive respect for a lot of girls in their team.
“A huge amount of effort went into this,” she added.
“We knew we didn’t perform against Galway in the Connacht final, and Mayo-Galway derbies have a life of their own.
“We’ve worked really hard since then, done a lot of extra training in the last six or seven weeks, and I’m delighted for the girls, especially the younger girls who maybe never got a chance to play in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day.
“That’s why I stuck around. I’ve a lot of good friends on the team that never got to experience that, and I’m delighted they will in three weeks’ time.
“I’ve won in Croke Park and I’ve lost in Croke Park, and while it’s brilliant to win an All-Ireland there, it’s heartbreaking to lose one. So we’ll have to put the head down now and work really hard.”
Hard work has never been an issue for the likes of Cora and Yvonne Byrne, the only two ladies left from the historic breakthrough win of 1999.
This new team that Frank Browne has built over the last few years won’t be found wanting for hard graft, fighting spirit, character and true grit either.
Plus, they can play — the goals from Cora, Aileen Gilroy and super sub Amy Dowling were all products of ingenuity and skill of the highest order.
The Mayo ladies are on the march again, just like old times.
It’s the summer that just keeps on giving for Mayo football.

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