All Ireland SFC Round 4A Qualifier
MAYO 0-27 CORK 2-20
By Paul Keane at the Gaelic Grounds for gaa.ie
Cillian O’Connor’s 87th minute point, his 11th on a dramatic evening at the Gaelic Grounds, secured a remarkable win for Mayo and a place in the All-Ireland football quarter-finals for the seventh season running.
O’Connor was a class apart on the evening, kicking six of his points from play though none was more important than that late, late winner from a 45.
The score actually put Mayo two ahead though Michael Hurley pulled back a score for courageous Cork to leave just the minimum in it.
Mayo ultimately advance after the blood and thunder epic though exactly how much over 90 minutes of pulsating action in front of 13,545 has taken out of them remains to be seen.
The 2016 All-Ireland finalists led by seven points with just over 20 minutes to go of normal but were pegged back by Cork goals from Sean Powter and Luke Connolly, forcing extra-time.
Underdogs Cork led by two at one stage in the extra period, but couldn’t hold on and four late Cork points in a row got them over the winning line.
It was tough on Cork who battled tremendously and lost James Loughrey and Aidan Walsh to injuries throughout though Mayo also rued the 58th minute black card dismissal of Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan.
Aidan O’Shea made his 100th appearance for Mayo, in league and Championship, and was excellent throughout.
He contested the throw-ins as a midfielder but played at centre-forward and was marked by experienced Cork defender Eoin Cadogan for the duration of an incredible game.
O’Shea got the better of that duel and laid on first-half points for Keegan, Andy Moran and O’Connor as well as punting one over himself.
Moran was terrific in the inside forward line for Mayo despite his advancing years.
He scored two points in each half and played the final pass for O’Shea’s first score which helped Mayo to lead 0-10 to 0-7 at half-time.
But Cork gave as good as they got for the majority of the first-half and the sides were level three times up to 0-7 apiece.
Donncha O’Connor, 36, rolled back the years in Cork’s attack with the Rebels’ first four points as they moved 0-4 to 0-2 up.
Every Mayo point was greeted with a huge cheer compared to the muted applause for each of Cork’s scores.
Cork lost corner-back Jamie O’Sullivan to a black card late in the opening half for a late hit on O’Shea.
O’Connor converted the free and Mayo closed out the half with three points in a row to put some daylight between the sides.
Cork were rocked by the loss of star midfielder Aidan Walsh for the second-half after injuring his ankle during the throw-in.
Mayo piled on the misery with four cracking points to open up a 0-14 to 0-7 lead and they looked set to go on and close out the game.
It didn’t quite pan out that way though as Cork simply refused to throw in the towel and 56th and 71st minute goals from Powter and Connolly dramatically tied up the game.
Patrick Durcan put Mayo ahead in the 75th minute but a last gasp converted Connolly free forced extra-time at 2-15 to 0-21.
Peadar Healy’s Cork moved two clear in the first-half of extra-time thanks in part to a brace of points from Paul Kerrigan.
But Mayo’s battling instincts ultimately got them over the line with brothers Cillian and Diarmuid O’Connor scoring vital late points.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-11 (4fs, 145), Andy Moran 0-4, Aidan O’Shea 0-3, Patrick Durcan 0-2, Conor Loftus 0-2, Diarmuid O’Connor 0-1, Jason Doherty 0-1, Lee Keegan 0-1, Tom Parsons 0-1, Keith Higgins 0-1.
Scorers for Cork: Donncha O’Connor 0-6 (4fs), Sean Powter 1-0, Luke Connolly 1-1 (1f), Paul Kerrigan 0-3, John O’Rourke 0-3, Colm O’Neill 0-3 (1f), Michael Hurley 0-2, Barry O’Driscoll 0-1, Tom Clancy 0-1.
MAYO: David Clarke; Brendan Harrison, Ger Cafferkey, Chris Barrett; Leeroy Keegan, Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle; Seamus O’Shea, Tom Parsons; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor; Jason Doherty, Cillian O’Connor, Andy Moran.
Subs: Patrick Durcan for Barrett (44), Stephen Coen for Seamus O’Shea (49), Donal Vaughan for Boyle (53), David Drake for Keegan (59, black card), Conor Loftus for Moran (63). Caolan Crowe for Cafferkey (80+3), Evan Regan for McLoughlin (HT ET), Boyle for Doherty (HT ET), Alan Dillon for Diarmuid O’Connor (87).
CORK: Ryan Price; James Loughrey, Jamie O’Sullivan, Michael Shields; Tomas Clancy, Eoin Cadogan, Colm O’Driscoll; Aidan Walsh, Ian Maguire; Mark Collins, Sean Powter, John O’Rourke; Barry O’Driscoll, Paul Kerrigan, Donncha O’Connor.
Subs: Kevin Crowley for Loughrey (20), Stephen Cronin for O’Sullivan (35+1, black card), Ruairi Deane for Walsh (37), Colm O’Neill for Shields (46), Luke Connolly for Barry O’Driscoll (54), Michael Hurley for O’Connor (62). Sean White for O’Rourke (E/T), Kevin O’Driscoll for Maguire (E/T), Alan O’Connor for Colm O’Driscoll (E/T), Conor Dorman for Crowley (76), Kevin O’Driscoll for Powter (80+3), Shields for Cronin (87).
REFEREE: Ciaran Branagan (Down)