Allianz Football League Division I Final
Cork 2-10 Mayo 0-11
Cork gave a masterful second half performance to claim a third successive Allianz Football League Division I title at Croke Park on Sunday, in addition to their Division 2 title in 2009.
Report via gaa.ie
Having been outplayed for long periods of the first half, the Rebels went into the break 0-9 to 0-5 down, but with the wind at their backs in the second half, Conor Counihan’s side outscored their opponents by 2-5 to 0-2 to secure the first three-in-a-row since Kerry managed the feat in the early 1970s.
Cork hit 1-3 without reply at the start of the second half to wipe out Mayo’s lead, with Colm O’Neill scoring their opening goal in the 47th minute, before Aidan Walsh’s second killed off Mayo's challenge nine minutes later.
It was yet another miserable afternoon for the Westerners in Croke Park, losing their 11th national final in the last 12 they have contested.
Both sides started nervously and struggled with a strong breeze that was blowing straight down the pitch into the Davin Stand end, favouring Cork in the first half.
Pearse O’Neill was gulity of one of Cork’s early wides before he steadied himself and hit the opening score of the game after six minutes.
Mayo were reliant on the free-taking prowess of Cillian O’Connor in the first quarter – a mostly stale affair – and the Young Footballer of the Year had the Westerners 0-3 to 0-2 ahead on 16 minutes, with Fintan Goold getting Cork’s second.
O’Connor nudged Mayo further ahead with another well-struck free from his hands before Goold responded for the champions, scoring their third from play in contrast to Mayo, whose first four scores came from frees.
Keith Higgins’ point after a trademark foray upfield was Mayo’s first from play, before two more followed in a minute. O’Connor scored his fifth and first from play, but he probably should have had greater reward for his endeavour, choosing to go it alone and blast over the bar when a pass inside to the unmarked Barry Moran might have reaped a greater dividend.
When Donal Vaughan broke upfield and slotted over another Mayo point, James Horan’s side had cobbled together three scores without reply and led by 0-7 to 0-3, having played the sharper football.
Two quick frees brought Cork to within two points – the second a long range effort from Graham Canty which bounced before going over and nearly embarrassed Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke - but it was a temporary reprieve. Mayo were dominant in the first half, and Andy Moran opened his account in added time, finishing a flowing move with a fine score.
Mayo, however, were still not finished, and when Barry Moran claimed a towering catch from a kick-out, he fed the rampaging Vaughan, who was stopped abruptly in his tracks with a shuddering tackle by Pearse O’Neill, who was booked for the challenge. O’Connor sent over the resultant free, landing his sixth point of the half to leave his side 0-9 to 0-5 ahead at the break.
That gap was down to a point within three minutes of the restart. Alan O’Connor, Paddy Kelly and Pearse O’Neill showed just how significant the breeze was by hitting just as many scores from play in three minutes as Cork had managed in the entire first half.
Cork were level on 43 minutes when Donncha O’Connor flashed over a point. O’Connor then played a pivotal role in Cork’s goal, finding Colm O’Neill in space on the edge of the square and the Ballyclough man hammered home his fourth goal of the campaign, leaving Clarke with no chance.
It was 10 minutes before Mayo managed a shot in the second half and five more before Kevin McLoughlin checked the Rebels’ progress with a point.
But Mayo’s hopes of a first league title since 2001 were dealt a hammer blow when Cork scored a lucky second goal. Goold’s angled shot struck a post and fell kindly for Aidan Walsh, the Kanturk man making no mistake with an emphatic finish despite the attention of two defenders. Cork led by 2-9 to 0-10.
A Conor Mortimer free and a brilliant Daniel Goulding point rounded off the scoring with five minutes left to leave five points between the sides in the end.
*Cork's Ray Carey was named TG4 Man of the Match
Mayo Scorers: C O’Connor 0-6 (0-5f), K Higgins 0-1, A Moran 0-1, D Vaughan 0-1, K McLoughlin 0-1.
Cork Scorers: Pearse O’Neill 0-2, Fintan Goold 0-2, Graham Canty 0-1 (0-1f), Donncha O’Connor 0-2 (0-1f), Pa Kelly 0-1, Alan O’Connor 0-1, Aidan Walsh 1-0, Colm O’Neill 1-0, Daniel Goulding 0-1.
Mayo: D Clarke; K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; B Moran, J Gibbons; K McLoughlin, A Moran, A Dillon; C Mortimer, C O'Connor, M Conroy. Subs: P Harte for Gibbons (40), E Varley for Conroy (47), D Geraghty for Harte (50-51, temp), Geraghty for B Moran (56), J Doherty for O’Connor (61), R Feeney for Dillon (68).
Cork: Alan Quirke; Ray Carey, Michael Shields, Eoin Cadogan; Noel O'Leary, Graham Canty, Paudie Kissane; Pearse O'Neill, Alan O'Connor; Fintan Goold, Pa Kelly, PaulKerrigan; Colm O'Neill, Aidan Walsh, Donncha O'Connor. Subs: Barry O’Driscoll for A Walsh (58-64, temp), Daniel Goudling for C O’Neill (64), Nicholas Murphy for A O’Connor (64), Barry O’Driscoll for P O’Neill (68).