Brian Hurley’s late fisted goal against Mayo secures Cork semi-final spot

Connacht side had led by two points approaching full-time at Páirc Uí Rinn

Cork 2-7 Mayo 0-12

Cork snatched victory at the death to secure their first division semi-final slot after a tetchy affair in difficult conditions at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.

Mayo, who had six players yellow carded and another shown a black card just a minute after being introduced, led by two points approaching the 70 minutes, when Cork, who had three players yellow-carded, struck.

A patient build-up involving John Hayes and Conor Dorman led to Brian Hurley fisting home the all-important goal to make a serious dent on Mayo's play-off prospects.


In the couple of minutes of injury-time Cork retained possession cleverly and ran down the clock without too much difficulty to make it three wins from as many outings on their own patch.

Cork manager Brian Cuthbert admitted his side got out of jail. "I thought we were very lucky to get the two points. Mayo looked like winning, but obviously I'm very happy with the way we dug it out. The lads kept going to the end," he said.

A howling wind and a greasy surface made it difficult for both teams as Cork got away to a flying start, sweeping 1-2 in front against the wind after eight minutes.

Mayo defender Keith Higgins lost possession to Hurley, who cut in from the left before crossing to the far post where Mark Collins finished in style after Jamie O'Sullivan just missed connecting.

Mayo grabbed control thereafter with Tom Parsons superb around the middle and Aidan O'Shea's powerful presence posing problems for an under-pressure home defence.

Mayo kicked seven points in-a-row as Cork went 28 minutes without a score. A Kevin McLoughlin free levelled matters at 0-5 to 1-2 in the 23rd minute before Mark Ronaldson and Donal Vaughan nudged Mayo two in front. Eventually, Tom Clancy punched over Cork's third point for 0-7 to 1-3 at the interval.

Despite O’Shea popping over the opening point of the second half, Cork edged in front with three on the spin, including an equaliser from long range by Dorman and the lead from a Donncha O’Connor free – 1-6 to 0-8 after 50 minutes.

A fired-up Mayo side responded in kind, Parsons surging forward to kick his third point before Jason Doherty reclaimed the initiative with 13 minutes remaining.

Cork hit back immediately with a superb Fintan Goold point from distance, only for the tie to swing Mayo's direction once more. McLoughlin and substitute Stephen Coen gave the large travelling support plenty to roar about as Mayo swept two points clear with four minutes of regulation time remaining.

The visitors looked like hanging on for the points until Hurley pounced, leaving joint manager Pat Holmes frustrated at the result.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed at conceding that late goal, but I thought our slow start was probably just as significant. We conceded 1-2 when playing with the wind in the first half.

“It wasn’t about redeeming ourselves from the Dublin game. We came down here to put in a performance and I thought we did that, but it wasn’t enough to get us over the line,” he said.

CORK: K O'Halloran; N Galvin, M Shields (capt), J Loughrey; B O'Driscoll, C Dorman (0-1), T Clancy (0-1); F Goold (0-2), J O'Sullivan; K O'Driscoll, P Kerrigan, C O'Driscoll; C O'Neill (0-1, free), M Collins (1-0), B Hurley (1-1, one free).

Subs: E Cadogan for O'Sullivan (inj, 21 mins, D O'Connor (0-1, free) for Kerrigan (41 mins), P Kelly for C O'Driscoll (44 mins), J O'Rourke for Collins (53 mins), D Goulding for O'Neill (57 mins), J Hayes for K O'Driscoll (64 mins).

MAYO: D Clarke; K Higgins, D Vaughan (0-1), K Keane; C Boyle, L Keegan, G Cafferkey; B Moran, A O'Shea (0-1); K McLoughlin (0-2, one free), A Dillon, T Parsons (0-3); J Doherty (0-2, one '45), D Kirby (0-1), M Ronaldson (0-1).

Subs: M Conroy for Dillon (47 mins), C O'Shea for Conroy (black card, 48 mins), M Sweeney for Ronaldson (54 mins), S Coen (0-1) for Keane (inj, 56 mins), A Freeman for Moran (64 mins), A Moran for Kirby (69 mins).

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois)