The first half of Sunday's All Ireland quarter final between Mayo and Cork, will have long faded into the memory bank by the time the Mayo's meeting with Kerry comes around, but the second half is one that the fat will be chewed over a lot in the next 21 days. The first half was a bitty and often ill tempered affair where Mayo struggled to break down, Cork's blanket defence and the sides went in level at eight points each. Mayo ran down closed off avenues and their foot passing into their full forward line was wasn't sticking as Cork smothered the Mayo attack like jam on a warm slice of bread.
The third quarter is where Mayo found their gear and with 20 minutes left on the clock they looked to have had the game wrapped up when they led by 0-16 to 0-9. Jason Doherty got things going in the second half just like he had done in the first with a score from close range after good work by Aidan O'Shea and Andy Moran. Doherty put in a massive shift for Mayo over the course of the game, the Burrishoole marksman has added a much higher work rate and intensity to his play this year to complement the sharpshooting he's always had in his arsenal. Andy Moran added then kicked Mayo's tenth point after, Moran tacked on another score in the 41st minute after Doherty and O'Connor had done the work to set him up and Alan Dillon pushed Mayo four points clear after Doherty turned over a Cork player in possession. Mayo looked to have found their groove and Cork could only reply from a Colm O'Neill free-kick. Over the next seven minutes Mayo added on four more points with Kevin McLoughlin, Moran and Dillion pointed. Dillon's point came after Cillian O'Connor had killed a dropping ball dead with his foot, with a piece of skill that would have had them applauding from the stands at the recent World Cup in Brazil. O'Connor then pointed a free after Enda Varley had been fouled, the Garrymore man had just been introduced for Andy Moran in the 46th minute. It was looking like just case of by how much Mayo would win by at this stage, but Cork had other ideas. Fintan Goold kicked a point, which was almost immediately followed by a Donncha O'Connor effort, the Ballydesmond man had a massive influence on the game after his introduction finishing up with 1-3 to his name. O'Connor kicked the next two scores for Cork to bring the gap back to three points. With 11 minutes left Ian Maguire barreled through on goal and Robbie Hennelly had to pull off a smart save to keep the ball out, but the Mayo net only survived unrustled for three more minutes when O'Connor blasted the ball past Hennelly after Cork had recycled possession quickly after Jason Doherty had lost the ball in the Cork half of the field. That goal tied the game at 0-16 to 1-13 and it was game on. Cillian O'Connor from a tight angle kicked Mayo back in front from a free and he was withdrawn shortly afterwards and then with four minutes to go, Aidan O'Shea found the back of the net after he rounded Ken O'Halloran after good work by Alan Freeman to turnover a Cork defender in possession and play the ball to Donal Vaughan who found O'Shea who drove the ball home into the Hill 16 end.
Cork hit back straight away with Brian Hurley finding the back of the Mayo net to leave the gap at a single point. Mayo regrouped and found their composure with Donal Vaughan pointing from a tight angle and Lee Keegan kicking their final score in the 69th minute. Colm O'Neil kicked a free a minute into injury time to close the gap back to two and the same man stood over the ball on the corner of the penalty area deep into the second minute of added time. The Balyclough man must have thought that the referee said there was more time left as he dinked the ball over the bar, but once Robbie Hennelly kicked the ball out from the resulting kick-out Cormac Reilly blew the full-time whistle to the joy of the Mayo players and supporters and to the horror of the Corkmen.
James Horan made one change to his announced starting 15 before the game with Donal Vaughan starting in midfield in place of Barry Moran and Tom Cunniffe coming into the team at corner back from the bench. Cunniffe went into the corner back slot with Keith Higgins pushing into the half-back line. Cork seemed to get to the pitch of the contest quicker than Mayo and led 0-5 to 0-2 after 15 minutes with Brian Hurley kicking four points and Fintan Goold one, the Mayo scores came from Jason Doherty and Cillian O'Connor. Seamus O'Shea kicked a point before two O'Connor points tied the game up. The second of those O'Connor scores came from a free after Aidan O'Shea was hauled down by Tomás Clancy, the Clonankilty man was shown the black card for his foul on the Breaffy man. The sides swapped points with each other over the remainder of the half with O'Shea scoring his second and Alan Dillon kicking two for Mayo, with Colm O'Neill scoring a brace for Cork and Aidan Walsh kicking a monster point for his team to round off the scoring before the break.
Whatever happens in three weeks time, one thing for sure is that Mayo will know they were in a right battle in Croke Park on Sunday and will have to up their game again against Kerry.
Mayo: C O'Connor 0-5 (3f ), A Dillon 0-4, A O'Shea 1-0, S O'Shea 0-2, J Doherty 0-2, D Vaughan 0-2, A Moran 0-2, K McLoughlin 0-1, L Keegan 0-1
Cork: B Hurley 1-4 (1f ), D O'Connor 1-3 (2f ), C O'Neill 0-5 (3f ), F Goold 0-2, A Walsh 0-1 (1f )
Mayo:Robert Hennelly; Chris Barrett, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Donal Vaughan; Tom Cunniffe, Seamus O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O'Shea, Jason Doherty; Cillian O'Connor, Andy Moran, Alan Dillon. Subs: Michael Conroy for McLoughlin (BS, 15-23 ), E Varley for Moran (47 ), Brendan Harrison for Barrett (57 ), A Freeman for O'Connor (65 ), Jason Gibbons for A O'Shea (69 ), Michael Conroy for Dillon (72 ).
Cork:Ken O’Halloran; James Loughrey, Eoin Cadogan, Noel Galvin; Michael Shields, Thomas Clancy, Brian O’Driscoll; Ian Maguire, Aidan Walsh; Paul Kerrigan, Mark Collins, Colm O’Driscoll; Colm O’Neill, Brian Hurley, Fintan Goold. Subs: D Cahalane for T Clancy (BC, 19 ), Paddy Kelly for C O'Driscoll (47 ), Donncha O'Connor for Collins (50 ), John O'Rourke for B O'Driscoll (57 ), Daniel Goulding for Maguire (61 ), John Hayes for Walsh (70 ).
Mayo:Robert Hennelly; Chris Barrett, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Donal Vaughan; Tom Cunniffe, Seamus O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O'Shea, Jason Doherty; Cillian O'Connor, Andy Moran, Alan Dillon. Subs: Michael Conroy for McLoughlin (Temporary, 15-23 ), E Varley for Moran (47 ), Brendan Harrison for Barrett (57 ), A Freeman for O'Connor (65 ), Jason Gibbons for A O'Shea (69 ), Michael Conroy for Dillon (72 ).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath )