O’Connor the hero as Mayo pip Cork to earn a semi-final spot

Two late sideline kicks ensure victory for the visitors at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Cork 0-10 Mayo 0-11

A couple of exquisite points from sideline kicks by Cillian O'Connor helped end Cork's three-year reign as league champions and squeezed Mayo into the semi-finals at a wet and windy Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.

The corner-forward struck first on the hour with a magnificent effort from the left touchline to level matters at 0-10 apiece before replicating it from the other side three minutes later for the winning score.

Cork searched hard for an equalising point in the closing stages which would have earned them a last-four spot, but substitute James Loughrey, the former Antrim player making his debut, and Aidan Walsh, twice, shot wide.

The holders were incensed at referee Maurice Deegan for not allowing a clear advantage to Fintan Goold in injury-time after he had burst clear through the middle. He called them back for a long-range into the howling wind instead.


Cork enjoying first use of the strong wind, but they couldn't build on an early 0-7 to 0-1 advantage. Dogged Mayo claimed the closing three points of the half to be well-placed at the interval, just 0-8 to 0-5 adrift and poised to mount a comeback.

A super point from centre-back Donal Vaughan on the resumption offered further encouragement and while Goold replied with an equally impressive score he also missed Cork's best chance of a goal after 47 minutes.

Low shot
Mayo goalkeeper and captain David Clarke came swiftly off his line to spread himself and knock Goold's low shot away with his legs.

With Séamus O’Shea a dominant figure at midfield, Mayo put the Cork defence under severe pressure and points from frees by O’Connor and two from Kevin McLoughlin tied it up at 0-9 each after 53 minutes.

Although Daniel Goulding landed a brilliant score from an acute angle on the right to restore Cork’s slender advantage, O’Connor’s ace marksmanship at the other end proved the difference. In the first half, despite McLoughlin firing over the opening point after 90 seconds, Cork scored the next seven, adopting the direct approach and finishing well with long-range efforts.

Walsh started the sequence with a belter and a Goold point off his right helped them lead 0-4 to 0-1 after 15 minutes before a couple of Goulding frees and another from Mark Collins stretched their advantage.

But Mayo dominated the closing stages, outscoring their hosts 0-4 to 0-1 in the process with Alan Freeman going closest to a goal, his rasping drive clearing the crossbar.

Michael Conroy's 30th minute point started a critical scoring period for the visitors with Aidan O'Shea adding another before Freeman's effort lifted the big Mayo contingent in the 2,000 crowd.