Mayo booked their place in the National Football League final with a comprehensive 0-16 to 0-11 win over Cork in Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Both sides will meet again in the final on April 25 where Mayo will be looking for their twelfth national league title and first since 2001. Going into the game Mayo knew the permutations were simple win or draw and they were through, loose and then it was up to Tyrone to do them a favour. At half time it was looking shaky for Mayo with Dublin winning well in Omagh and Cork holding them at seven points a piece, after Mayo kicked eight wides in the opening half.
But after the turn around the Rebels declared and let Mayo run riot early on kicking five unanswered points in the opening eight minutes to set up a comfortable canter to the final whistle. Ger Cafferkey and Chris Barrett came into the side in defence, with the Belmullet man excelling in the corner back position and slotting over a fine individual point just before the break. Enda Varley failed to make the starting 15 after an injury picked up in club action last weekend, so in came Shrule Glencorrib marksman Mark Ronaldson to make up the full forward line. Conor Counihan's side were shorn of the services of Michael Shields and Anthony Lynch in the full back line before the throw in, causing a reshuffle in the Rebels pack with Derek Kavanagh moving to the full back line to pick up Aidan O'Shea. The Breaffy teenager who has been struggling to find the form he showed last year showed signs over the seventy minutes that he was coming right in time for the summer and was a constant threat to the Cork defence.
Mayo started the game brightly with Alan Dillon popping the ball over around the one minute mark after Aidan O'Shea laid the ball back to him. Fintan Gould leveled the game up shortly after, but the Ballintubber man pushed Mayo back in front from a free on six minutes after Aidan O'Shea was fouled on the 21 yard line. Gould hit back for the Rebels after some neat interplay by the Cork attack. Conor Morimter landed his first score of the day from a free 21 yards out, and ten minutes later Dillon put up his third score of the game from another dead ball after O'Shea was fouled again infront of goal.
Mayo missed a number of chances as Cork started to get to grips with the game and a flurry of points from Kevin McMahon, Donnacha O'Connor and Colm O'Neill after the quarter of an hour mark pushed the home-side back infront. Conor Mortimer landed his second score of the afternoon after good work in the tight by Aidan O'Shea. But Cork hit back and John Hayes landed two points in quick succession to round off Cork's scoring for the half. Chris Barrett charged down the field on 34 minutes and drilled the ball over the bar from distance, before Seamus O'Shea leveled the tie just before the turn around.
Mayo knew they needed up their game in the second half and they did but the lack luster resistance shown by Cork was no real gauge of what the summer will bring. A brace of points from Andy Moran along with points from Ronaldson, Conor Mortimer and Dillon put Mayo five clear before Cork even woke up to the fact the second half was on. Mayo controlled the second half in the brilliant sunshine on Lee-side, and kept the score board ticking over with Donal Vaughn, Dillon, Conor Mortimer and a brace of scores from Aidan O'Shea completing the scoring for Mayo which kept Cork at arms length until the final whistle.
Mayo: D Clarke; D Vaughan,n G Cafferkey, L O'Malley; C Barrett, T Howley, K McLoughlin; T Parsons, S O'Shea; A Moran, A Dillon, T Mortimer; M Ronaldson, A O'Shea, C Mortimer. Subs: P Harte for T Parsons, A Freeman for A Dillon.
Cork:A Quirke; E Cotter, O'Sullivan, B O'Reagan; K O'Connor, G Spillane, G Canty; A Walsh, D Kavanagh; F Goold, D O'Connor, K McMahon; C O'Neill, C Sheehan, J Hayes. Subs: N Murphy for C Canty; S Kiely for B O'Regan; P O'Flynn for K McMahon, N Galvin for D Kavanagh; C O'Driscoll for J O'Sullivan; A O'Connor for J Hayes.
Ref: Gearoid O'Conamha (Waterford )