It was a game that had it all and then some more, bar the desired result for Mayo as a late, late Brian Hurley goal saw Cork steal the two points from this national football league encounter in Pairc Ui Rinn. Mayo looked to be heading back up the road with a valuable win under their belts as the game ticked towards injury time. But the hosts had other ideas, Conor Dorman ghosted in behind the Mayo rear guard and flicked the ball across the face of the goal, where the Castlehaven man was arriving just at the right time to flick the ball to the back of the net and condemn Mayo to their third defeat of this years league.
The game had a bit of everything you could imagine from the ball hopping over the bar from a long driven pass, a subs involvement lasting shorter than it probably took him to take off his top and lace up his boots and plenty of off the ball scuffling.
Mayo shuffled the deck at the back before throw in with Donal Vaughan dropping back into the full back line and Kevin Keane moving out to wing back, while Tom Parsons started his first game in an age for the county and laid down a serious marker of his intent with an all action display which dragged Mayo back into the game after Cork had gotten off to a quick fire start.
With eight minutes gone on the clock the Rebels were leading by 1-2 to 0-0 thanks to pointed frees from Brian Hurley and Colm O’Neill and Mark Collins goal.
The Cork goal came about in unusual circumstances which laid the foundation for the rest of the game. Keith Higgins battled with Brian Hurley for the ball and had won the battle it seemed knocking the ball out of the Cork attackers possession. The ball was trickling over the line for a 45’ and Higgins raced back to keep it in play and save the 45. But when he tried to handpass the ball away to safety, he slipped and handed the ball back to Hurley. The Cork forward cut down the enplane and flicked the ball across the goal where it was missed by both defence and attack, but full-forward Mark Collins was powering in a the back post and drove the ball along the deck to the back of the net.
That goal kicked Mayo into life and Parsons in particular grabbed the game by the scuff of the neck and he kicked Mayo’s first point after some good build up play involving Aidan O’Shea (who also had a massive game for Mayo ) and Donal Vaughan. Just after the quarter-of-an hour mark, Jason Doherty launched over a 45 with the aid of a strong breeze and the gap was just three points. Danny Kirby who put in a solid shift during his time on the pitch kicked Mayo’s third point not long after and Parsons landed his second as Mayo hit a purple patch. A Kevin McLoughlin pointed free and long range effort from Mark Ronaldoson put Mayo into the lead and Donal Vaughan stretched that lead out to two points with a monster effort from out the park as Mayo hit Cork for seven unanswered points after their goal. The Rebels did have the last say on the first half when Tomás Clancy chased in after a Hurley effort and punched it over the bar to leave the score Mayo 0-7 Cork 1-3 at the break.
The second half started well for Mayo with Aidan O’Shea putting himself about the place and kicking the opening score of the half three minutes in. A minute later he was hauled down by three Cork men as he tried to break for goal, winning what looked like a very easy free from close range, but somehow Jason Doherty pulled his effort wide of the target to the gasps of the crowd.
Cork then found their way back into the game with hit three points on the bounce to go back into the lead thanks to scores from Fintan Goold, Conor Dorman and Donnacha O’Connor. Dorman’s score came in unusual circumstances as his long ball in to the Cork attack, bounced in the Mayo danger area and hopped over the bar. The score also came just after Michael Conroy made the briefest of cameo’s in the game. The Davitts man replaced Alan Dillon and his first involvement was to take a quick give and go free, he appeared to have been fouled by a Cork player, but to referee Eddie Kinsella’s eyes he tried to simulate contact to get a free and was shown a black card within seconds of coming on.
Mayo tied the game back with 20 minutes to go when Parsons kicked his third point of the day and a Doherty score pushed Mayo back into the lead. Fintan Goold landed a point from way out the park to tie it up again, but once again Mayo responded and Kevin McLoughlin put them back in front after Parsons pulled a high ball from the sky and set the Knockmore man off on his way. Stephen Coen stretched the lead out to two points with a neatly taken effort from close in and the points looked to be heading back to Mayo. But there was still another major twist to come.
Mayo: T Parsons (0-3 ), K McLoughlin (0-2,1f ), J Doherty (0-2, 145 ), A O’Shea (0-1 ), M Ronaldson (0-1 ), D Kirby (0-1 ), S Coen (0-1 ), D Vaughan (0-1 )
Cork: B Hurley (1-1, 1f ), M Collins (1-0 ), F Goold (0-2 ), C Dorman (0-1 ), T Clancy (0-1 ), C O’Neill (0-1, 1f ), M Collins (0-1 ), D O’Connor (0-1, 1f )
Mayo: D Clarke; K Higgins, D Vaughan, G Cafferkey; C Boyle, L Keegan, K Keane; T Parsons, B Moran; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, J Doherty; M Ronaldson, D Kirby, A Dillon. Subs: M Conroy for A Dillon; C O’Shea for M Conroy (BC ), M Sweeney for M Ronaldson, S Coen for K Keane, A Freeman for B Moran, A Moran for D Kirby
Cork: K O’Halloran; N Galvin, M Shields, J Loughrey; B O’Driscoll, C Dorman, T Clancy; F Goold, J O’Sullivan; K O’Driscoll, P Kerrigan, C O’Driscoll; C O’Neil, M Collins, B Hurley. Subs: D O’Connor for M Collins (BS ), M Collins for B O’Driscoll (BS ), P Kelly for C O’Driscoll, D O’Connor for P Kerrigan, J O’Rourke for M Collins, D Goulding for C O’Neill, J Hayes for K O’Driscoll.