10
Sat, Dec
19 New Articles

Cork in a different league entirely

Sport
Mayo's Ger Cafferkey

Mayo get lost in big house



Football Allianz National League
Division 1 Final
Cork 1-17
Mayo 0-12


Mike Finnerty
Dublin


IT was a case of déjà vu all over again last Sunday as Mayo failed to turn up for a big game at Croke Park and the opposition carved them apart, taking the National League Division 1 title and putting John O’Mahony’s young team in their place in the process.
The real pity was that Mayo never got to the pace of the match and failed to ask Cork any difficult questions. The winners toyed with Mayo for long spells, picked them off at their leisure, and had the luxury of free-wheeling through the last ten minutes without a score. The poor performance was as shocking as it was unexpected.
Cork set the tone from the start and nerves and the slippery conditions seemed to be an issue for Mayo as unforced errors and some poor shooting dogged their early work.
Cork encountered no such problems and quickly set about constructing a platform for victory. They led by 0-6 to 0-1 after twenty minutes and at half-time had established a 0-9 to 0-5 advantage. As it turned out, they were only getting started.
By the 62nd minute, Mayo had been buried without trace. They were eleven points down (1-17 to 0-9) by that stage and heads seemed to drop all over the field. Cork kicked for home during the third quarter and had gained the upper-hand in practically all the decisive battles.
Conor Counihan had clearly pin-pointed Mayo’s strengths and weaknesses and won the sideline battle hands down. At one end Cork were double-teaming Aidan O’Shea and forcing him down blind alleys any time he managed to win possession.
At the other end, Donnacha O’Connor tormented Trevor Howley, taking him out of his comfort zone, while Daniel Goulding eased into the game at his own pace and eventually ground Liam O’Malley down. Between them, the Cork duo nailed 1-10 (all but three points from play) with the likes of Paddy Kelly and Ciaran Sheehan doing the heavy lifting.
In between, Cork’s midfield partnership of Alan O’Connor and Aidan Walsh combined aerial prowess with good old-fashioned work-rate on the ground.
Unfortunately, Seamus O’Shea was forced to plough a lone furrow for far too long. Tom Parsons again failed to live up to his reputation at Croke Park and never got going while Ronan McGarrity was clearly not firing on all cylinders after missing seven weeks through injury.
O’Shea was honest and toiled hard, shooting a couple of points for good measure. In truth, he and the impressive Kevin McLoughlin could have done no more. The latter was conspicuous by his energy, composure and solid decision-making in the first half and looked right at home on his first appearance at HQ. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of most of his colleagues.
The warning bells were ringing from the get-go as Cork settled quickly and nailed a string of inspirational points from all angles to open up some daylight. Mayo did some sabre-rattling when Aidan O’Shea flicked a ‘garryowen’ against the crossbar and Mark Ronaldson drilled a close-range shot wide but these were isolated incidents. Cork were playing most of the football.
Mayo stayed in touch up to half-time thanks to the zest of McLoughlin and the finishing of Conor Mortimer (who clipped three points) but Cork looked to be in a different class at times.
However, when the enigmatic Mortimer fired over two more points (one free) in as many minutes after the restart, we wondered if Mayo had found their famous second wind. Alas, it was merely a death-rattle.
Over the next twenty minutes Cork reeled off 1-8 and held Mayo to two frees from Alan Dillon and Mortimer. The winners took Mayo on from all sides, overpowered them, outthought them, and closed the game out.
Daniel Goulding’s goal on 62 minutes was a fitting way to embellish an emphatic victory and late token gestures from Andy Moran, Dillon (free) and Seamus O’Shea drew hardly a murmur from the small band of travelling supporters.
This match was over long before Padraig Hughes’ final whistle put Mayo out of their misery. John O’Mahony has always insisted he is looking for a consistency of performance; the only thing consistent about this display was its mediocrity.
“We would be quite pleased with the league; we’d be desperately disappointed with today’s result and today’s performance,” the Mayo manager remarked afterwards when asked whether the defeat in Croke Park was the result of psychological factors. “We’ll put our hands up, and the lads will put their hands up, for today’s performance. But they won’t put their hands up for the last 40 years or 50 years of performances here.”
Cork goalkeeper Patrick O’Shea admitted that Cork’s training session last Tuesday night was more intense than Sunday’s game.
Enough said.

Cork
P O’Shea; E Cotter, J O’Sullivan, R Carey; P Kissane, M Shields, N O’Leary (0-1); A O’Connor (0-1), A Walsh (0-1); F Goold, D O’Connor (0-5, two frees), P Kelly (0-1); D Goulding (1-5, one point a free), C Sheehan (0-2), P Kerrigan (0-1).
Subs used: N Murphy for Goold (59 mins); D Kavanagh for A O’Connor (66 mins); C O’Neill for D O’Connor (66 mins); J Hayes for Goulding (70 mins).

Mayo
D Clarke; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, L O’Malley; D Vaughan, T Howley, K McLoughlin; T Parsons, S O’Shea (0-2); A Moran (0-1), A Dillon (0-3, frees), T Mortimer; C Mortimer (0-6, three frees), A O’Shea, M Ronaldson.
Subs used: R McGarrity for Ronaldson (half-time), A Kilcoyne for T Mortimer (51 mins); A Freeman for Parsons (63 mins); P Harte for A O’Shea (68 mins); B Moran for C Mortimer (68 mins).

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).