It's a case of a getting back to the drawing board for Mayo after Cork coasted past Kevin Reidy's side in the National League final in Kiltoom on Saturday evening. The twelve point gap at the final whistle was a true barometer of the gulf between the sides over the 60 minutes as Cork outclassed Mayo in every area of the pitch during the game.
Mayo manager Kevin Reidy said before the game in this paper that he wanted to judge his side against the best in the county and after seeing Cork in the flesh, he knows that his side have a lot of work to do if they are to stand any chance of dethroning the All Ireland champions who are looking for a five in a row come the end of the season. It's hard to look at any side being able to stop the Munster girls taking that five a row crown after their devastating display off football, where the out thought, out fought and over ran Mayo for long periods in a game where they kicked 21 scores and still managed to hit another 12 efforts wide of the target in the process.
Six minutes into the game Cork were in the lead by four points, as Mayo struggled to clear their defensive lines playing into a strong breeze, A brace of points from Valerie Mulcahy with efforts from Nollaig Cleary and Deirdre O'Reilly had them moving along nicely as Mayo struggled to find a foothold in the contest. Emma Mullin fresh from a player of the game display against Laois in the league semi-final was the first to hit back for Mayo with a superb score eight minutes in, before Cora Staunton and Mulcahy traded frees. Eleven minutes into the half, Yvonne Byrne had to come to Mayo's recuse when she did well to block Rohna Buckley's goal bound effort from close range, but the Hollymount keeper's goal wasn't going to survive unscathed for much longer and on 16 minutes Cork grabbed the only goal of the final. Norita Kelly combined with Deirdre O'Reilly to set up Buckley who drove her shot hard past Byrne in the Mayo goal to put her six points up. Cork at this stage had been reduced to 14 players after Breege Corkery had been shown a yellow card for a foul on Cora Staunton. Buckley soon added another point to her own personal tally, shortly followed by another Mullin score for Mayo.
With eight minutes left before the break Mayo were given a life line to get back into the contest when referee Joe Murray finally awarded a penalty to Mayo after Staunton was dragged down on her way goal-wards. Initially the Dublin referee awarded a 14 yard free despite the foul clearly happening inside the large square, and after consulting the umpires he awarded the spot kick. Staunton hit the shot with plenty of power but not enough direction and pulled her shot to the right of the post and wide.
The let off, saw Cork kick back into life and build up a 1-10 to 0-4 lead at the break with points from Cleary, O'Sullivan, Mulcahy and Geralidne O'Flynn with Mayo's response coming from a Staunton free two minutes before the break. Mayo roared into life in the second half and hit a score after only a mater of seconds thanks to a fine effort from Cora Staunton and a minute later they should have bagged a goal when a flowing move involving Kathryn Sullivan and Lisa Cafferky ended up with Natasha Beegan bearing down on goal, only for the Carnacon player deciding to lay the ball off to Fiona McHale rather than shoot herself, McHale was quickly closed down and dragged her effort wide of the post, injuring herself in the process and forcing her early retirement form the game shortly afterwards. Staunton landed another point for Mayo a minute later, but the missed goal chance saw Mayo's chances in the game evaporate for good. Cork were able to build up a 1-15 to 0-7 lead inside the next 12 points as it became a damage limitation exercise for Mayo and a shooting practice for the All Ireland champions. As the clock ticked down Mayo did manage to put a few more scores on the board as the game petered out to it's conclusion.
After a very solid league run up to this final Mayo manager Michael Reidy knows that his side have a lot of work to to if they are going to challenge Cork in this years championship. But on the evidence of this encounter it looks like it is going to be very hard for any-side to stop their charge to a five in a row.
Yvonne Byrne; Noelle Tierney, Caroline McGing, Marie Corbett; Sinead Hughes, Claire O'Hara, Kathryn Sullivan (0-1 ); Claie Egan, Martha Carter; Fiona McHale, Emma Mullin (0-3 ), Triona McNicholas; Lisa Cafferkey, Cora Staunton (0-7,3f ) , Natasha Beegan.
Subs: Nicola Hurst for Sinead Hughes (25 mins ), Aoife Loftus for Marie Corbett (HT ), Aoife Herbert for Fiona McHale (35 mins ), Sinead Cafferky for Lisa Cafferky (45 mins ),
Elaine Harte, Rena Buckley, Anglea Walsh, Linda Barrett; Geralidne O'Flynn (0-2 ), Bríd Stack, Briege Corkery (0-2 ); Juliet Murphy (0-1 ), Norita Kelly; Nollaig Cleary (0-6 ), Mary O'Connor, Ciara O'Sullivan (0-2 ); Valerie Mulcahy (0-5 3f ), Rohna Buckley (1-1 ), Deirdre O'Reilly (0-1 ).
Subs: Amy O'Shea for Rohna Buckley (47 mins ), Carmel McCarthy for Norita Kelly (47 mins ), Roisin O'Sullivan for Ciara O'Sullivan ( 24 mins ), Áinne Walsh for Briege Corkery (56 mins ), Louise Cohalan for Geraldine O'Flynn (56 mins )
Ref: Joe Murray (Dublin )