Mayo will have learned a lot from their league campaign this year, but the one lesson they will take away from Parnell Park on Saturday night is that if you don’t take the chances that come your way against a team like Cork, you’re not going to be going home with the silverware.
Mayo had enough of the ball to win this game a few times over but they delayed pulling the trigger when in shooting range far to often that allowed the Cork defence to either close them down and force them to shoot the ball wide under pressure or have it turned over by the Cork defence.
Mayo did set up frantic last 90 seconds when scores from Grace Kelly and Niamh Kelly put just three points between the sides. But Cork expertly held on to the ball and ran down the clock with brilliant composure and claimed a deserved league final win. But Mayo will be all the better for having to got to this stage of the league with the championship still a bit off ahead in the distance and they’ll be looking for revenge down the track in the Autumn.
The opening ten minutes of the first half saw Cork hit Mayo for six in a literal sense as they went into an early 1-3 to 0-0 score in Parnell Park. Mayo knew that Cork would be a much different animal from the side they met in the opening round of the league in Mallow back in late January and right from the blocks they laid down a marker of their intent.
Rhona Ní Bhuachalla swung off a nice score her right boot from the left hand side to get things going less than 90 seconds in and two minutes later Annie Walsh made it 0-2 to 0-0 after she intercepted a short kick-out routine that Mayo had worked on between Yvonne Byrne and Fiona McHale. The Rebelettes landed their third point when Rena Buckley hit her first of the day after eight minutes and two minutes later the first goal of the day arrived.
Bríd Stack found herself in loads of room in the middle of the park, she ate up the ground towards the Mayo goal and slipped the ball to Ciara O’Sullivan who in turn played in Aine O’Sullivan and the Inch Rovers girl played the inch perfect pass to find Ni Bhuachalla who was free at the back stick and palmed the ball to the Mayo net.
Mayo did calm that storm somewhat over the next 20 minutes and dominated the play for long periods but they couldn’t covert the possession they had into scores they should have. Cora Staunton hit Mayo’s first from a free 12 mintues in and she followed it up three minutes later with a fine score from the right and Mayo put just a goal between the sides when Sarah Mulvihill slotted one over the bar.
However Cork were able to keep Mayo at arms length with Bríd Stack and Derdre O’Reilly closing down Cora Staunton well in the full back line and Mayo failing to get the rest of the attack into the game quite as much as they’d have liked despite the best efforts of Fiona McHale, Rachel Kearns and Martha Carter and they went in leading by 1-4 to 0-3 at the break with Orla Finn’s free the last score of the half.
The second half was much of the same as the first in the opening 15 minutes with Mayo controlling the ball for long periods but Cork the more clinical when their chances arrived. Niamh Kelly fired a shot just wide of the goal right from the throw in and two minutes later Orlagh Farmer hit her sides fifth point of the day. The Mayo defence put in a mammoth shift of the game and gave as good as they got for the hour but Mayo kept piling on the wides in the second half and dropping balls short, whereas Cork and Orla Finn in particular were calm and composed when they got the chance.
Both Staunton and Kearns went close with goal efforts for Mayo and Staunton did kick two points in the opening 12 minutes of the half with Sarah Rowe adding another for Frank Browne’s charges, however Cork just kept jabbing back with Finn kicking four points on the trot for her side and by the time the game was held up to attended to a serious looking injury to Cork number 11 Ciara O’Sullivan the Leesiders were leading 1-9 to 0-6 with 11.25 left on the clock.
Mayo: C Staunton (0-6, 2f ), S Mulvhill (0-1 ), S Rowe (0-1 ), N Kelly (0-1 ), G Kelly (0-1 )
Cork: O Finn (0-6, 3f ), R NÍ Bhuachalla (1-1 ), A Walsh (0-1 ), R Buckley (0-1 )
Mayo: Y Byrne; O Conlon, S Tierney, D Hughes; R Kearns, M Carter, L Ryder; C McManamon, A Gilroy; C Hegarty, F McHale, S Mulvihill; S Rowe, C Staunton, N Kelly. Subs: G Kelly for A Gilroy, N O’Malley for C Hegarty, C McManamon for S Mulvihill, C Egan for D Hughes
Cork: M O’Brien; E Meaney, B Stack, R Phelan; V Foley, D O’Reilly, M Ambrose; R Buckley, B Corkery; R Ní Bhuachalla, C O’Sullivan, A Walsh; A O’Sullivan, H Looney, O Finn. Subs: O Farmer for A O’Sullivan, E Scally for R Ní Bhuachalla, S Kelly for C O’Sullivan,
Ref: B Rice (Down )