Cork 1-17 Mayo 0-12
Five weeks out from the start of the championship and Mayo were humbled by Cork in Croke Park on Sunday afternoon. The Rebels’ comprehensive eight point victory combined with Sligo's success in the division three final the previous evening leaves the June 5 clash in Yeats county looking like a far sterner test than it did on Saturday morning. Cork romped home to victory in a soulless Croke Park where many of the 27,005 who made the trek were well on their way home before Daniel Goulding finished the ball to the back of David Clarke's net with eight minutes to go, and put Cork 11 points in the clear.
Mayo named an unchanged 15 from the side’s last meeting at the start of the month, while Cork showed 10 changes from the side that lined out against Mayo in the last game of the league stages. Only Eoin Cotter, Aidan Walsh, Donnach O'Connor, Fintan Gould, and Ciarán Sheehan remained in place on the programme before throw in. Mayo dominated the early stages of the game, but could not convert the possession into scores, where the Rebels it seemed could kick scores at will in comparison. By the turnaround Mayo had six wides racked up while their opponents had only a solitary effort off target.
At the break Mayo trailed by four points, Cork looked far more at ease kicking seven of their nine points from play in Croke Park, where David Clarke's instructions from the Mayo goal could be heard high up in the Hogan Stand. Cork went five points in front after 19 minutes when Donnacha O'Connor landed two points in the space of a minute, the second of which saw three Mayo players stand off the Cork centre half forward and allow him to drive over the bar from 40 yards out. Just before that brace of scores Mayo had three goal chances in the space of a couple of minutes, which could have turned the game on its head. The first of which saw a Kevin McLoughlin effort drop short, Aidan O'Shea got to the ball before Patrick O'Shea in the Cork goal but his flicked effort came back off the bar. Mark Ronaldson was next to come close when he claimed a high ball by Andy Moran, but his first time shot on the turn flew wildly wide. O'Shea had another effort blocked by a Cork defender close in less than a minute later. At that stage Cork were leading by 0-4 to 0-1 with Mayo's only score coming from the boot of Seamus O'Shea who drilled the ball over the bar from 30 yards out after Mayo had spent time messing around with the ball in the left corner. After O'Connor's brace stretched the gap out to five points, Alan Dillon and Conor Mortimer both hit back with points from frees for Mayo, but Cork just went up through the gears when they felt Mayo getting close, O'Connor tagged on three more scores before the break to keep Mayo at arms length, with a brace of Mortimer points bringing Mayo up to five points for the first 35 minutes.
Ronan McGarrity entered the action after the half time break, replacing Mark Ronaldson, with Seamus O'Shea moving into the forward division for the second period, and Mayo started the half like men on a mission. Conor Mortimer hit a great score under pressure after only a minute, which was quickly followed by an Alan Dillon free and the gap was back to two with 33 minutes left on the clock. But that was as good as it got for Mayo who did not score for another 17 minutes. Cork went on to kick four unanswered points, through Daniel Goulding twice and midfield pair Alan O'Connor and Aidan Walsh. It was Mortimer again who replied for Mayo from a placed ball after substitute Aidan Kilcoyne was hauled off the ground. But it was a brief respite for Mayo as Cork went on to outscore them by 1-4 to a solitary pointed free from Alan Dillon over the course of the next eight minutes, and confirm the destination of the league title for 2010. Goulding's goal came after a quickfire move up the field involving Eoin Cotter and Aidan Walsh, which ended up with Goulding one on one with Clarke before he slotted the ball to the back of the net. Three late Mayo points from Andy Moran, Alan Dillon, and Seamus O'Shea put a small gloss on the scoreboard at the end. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise good league campaign, which most observers predicted would see Mayo struggling to stay in division one for next year, but instead found them in Croke Park on the last Sunday in April. There is plenty of work to be done between now and June 5 and the disappointment of not performing on Sunday and the lessons to be learned from it will have to be forgotten before the Connacht championship throws in in five weeks’ time.
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 (0-4,4f ), T Mortimer; C Mortimer (0-5,2f ), A O'Shea, M Ronaldson. Subs: R McGarrity for M Ronaldson (HT ), A Kilcoyne for T Mortimer (50 mins ), A Freeman for T Parsons (63 mins ), B Moran for C Mortimer (67 mins ), P Harte for A O'Shea (67 mins )
Cork: P O'Shea; R Carey, M Shields, E Cotter; N O'Leary (0-1 ), P Kissane, J O'Sullivan; A O'Connor (0-1 ), A Walsh (0-1 ); F Goold, D O'Connor (0-5, 3f ), P Kelly (0-1 ); D Goulding (1-5, 1f ), C Sheehan (0-2 ), P Kerrigan (0-1 ). Subs: N Murphy for F Goold (58 mins ), D Kavanagh for A Walsh (65 mins ), C O'Neill for D O'Connor (65 mins ), G Spillane for M Shields (69 mins ), F Lynch for D Goulding (69 mins )
Ref: P Hughes (Armagh )