PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST Mayo ladies legend Cora Staunton. Pic: Sportsfile
Cora Staunton’s scoring records for Mayo beggar belief
WE will never see the likes of Cora Staunton again.
Ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland Ladies Final, that might seem like an easy thing to say, but the numbers back it up.
We nearly take Cora Staunton’s scoring exploits for granted but it’s only when you delve into her records and compare her to other Gaelic games greats that you realise how high she is in the overall pantheon.
Compared to some of the most renowned marksmen in hurling and men’s football, Cora Staunton stands head and shoulders above them all.
And the records prove it.
Since she scored 0-10 on her championship debut for Mayo in 1996 at the tender age of just 14, Cora Staunton has lit up the game of ladies football like no other player.
She has, by now, played 66 championship games, starting every single Mayo championship match since that debut. That, normally, would be the record we would be remarking on.
But with Cora, that’s only background noise. Front and centre is this figure: 59-476.
That’s the amount of goals and points the Carnacon star has scored for Mayo in senior championship games.
It adds up to a total of 653 points in 66 games, just under an average of ten points per game at the highest level in her sport. It’s phenomenal scoring.
For context, compare to the men’s game where Colm Cooper is the all time top scorer in the men’s senior championship with 23-283 (352 points) in 85 games, an average of 4.1 points per game and over 300 points behind Cora Staunton.
Cora Staunton’s scoring total in senior inter county championship
The number of championship games Cora Staunton has played for Mayo
Also the number of consecutive starts Cora has made from her debut to now, including the 1999 All-Ireland Final where she was withdrawn inside the first minute. She broke her collarbone in the run-up to the final and was started as a ploy to unsettle Waterford.
The number of games Staunton has been held scoreless in since her Mayo debut. One is the above mentioned Waterford game where she was only on the field a matter of seconds. The second is the 2003 All-Ireland Final, where Mayo defeated Dublin in a low scoring game, 1-4 to 0-5.
Hurling is a game of much higher scoring totals than Gaelic football but, even still, no senior hurler comes close to Cora. The legend that is Henry Shefflin is still almost 100 points behind her at 27-484 (565) in 71 games, an average of 7.9.
Cora’s career might be longer than all of the above named but she has played less games than them and has a higher average.
None of the top ten scorers in the history of men’s football come close to Cora’s average.
In hurling, Eddie Keher of Kilkenny and Galway star Joe Canning are at an 8.8 point average but still trailing behind Cora.
In fact, the footballer with the highest average out of the top ten all time scorers is none other than Mayo captain Cillian O’Connor. He’s second in the all-time list behind Cooper and, still only 25, well on course to overtake him in the next year or so.
O’Connor has nailed 20-243 for Mayo in championship since 2011, in just 43 games, for a seven point average. He’s 49 points off Cooper so it’s not unreasonable to assume that in the not too distant future, the top scorers in championship football in the ladies and men’s games will not alone both be from Mayo, but both be from the parish of Burriscarra, home to O’Connor’s Ballintubber and Staunton’s Carnacon.
Both honed their craft at the clubs’ shared home in Clogher — there must be some magic dust in the water up there.
It’s not possible to illustrate exactly how much of Staunton’s scoring tally is from frees and play, as some reports from 2002 back do not list how much of her tallies came from frees.
However, from 2003 onwards, fully 53 percent of Staunton’s total came from open play. She has scored 50-413 in that time, 2-243 came from frees and five goals from penalties, leaving her with a staggering 43-170 from open play.
That total, from play alone from 2003 onwards, would have her sixth in the men’s all-time record (comprising frees and scores from play), one point behind Galway’s Padraig Joyce and just ahead of Dublin’s Bernard Brogan.
Staunton’s importance to Mayo is illustrated in another statistic; since she made her debut in 1996, Mayo have scored 124-782 in championship. Staunton struck 57 percent of those scores.
And what’s more, she’s getting better with age. Her average is ten points or more in each of the last eleven seasons, the highest being an incredible average of 14.67 in three games in 2012.
Her average this season is a more rounded 10.5 and Staunton credits lively forward colleagues as helping to share her scoring burden.
But the records do confirm one thing – Mayo ladies should do everything they can to not let Cora retire anytime soon.
Cora’s biggest individual tallies
1: 4-13 (0-6fs) v Leitrim, Connacht Semi-Final 2009
2: 2-14 (0-5fs) v Galway, Connacht Final, 2016
3: 3-11 (0-6fs) v Tyrone, All-Ireland Qualifier, 2012
4: 4-8 (2-0pen, 0-4fs) v Westmeath, All-Ireland Qualifier, 2013
5: 2-13 (1-0 pen, 0-13fs) v Galway, Connacht Final, 2007
Occupation: Health Promotion, Mayo Traveller Support Group and Athlete Mentor with Sky Sports Living for Sport
Championship debut: 1996
Did you know? Cora has started every championship game that Mayo have played since making her debut 21 years ago.