FL1 final: Rebel goals sink Mayo

April 29, 2012

Mayo's Donal Vaughan gets involved in a scuffle with Fintan Goold of Cork during the Allianz FL Division 1 final ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Cork retained the Division One league title with a 2-10 to 0-11 success against Mayo at Croke Park.

Second-half goals from Colm O'Neill and Aidan Walsh proved decisive as the Rebel County dominated after the restart, 'winning' the second period by 2-5 to 0-2, with Ray Carey producing a Man of the Match performance at corner back.

The result means that Conor Counihan has now overseen four successive league wins as Cork manager, including the Division Two title in 2009 and three successive Division One crowns.

Mayo looked very comfortable in the first half and six points from Young Footballer of the Year Cillian O'Connor propelled them into a 0-9 to 0-5 interval lead.

Cork had the wind in their faces as they kicked towards an empty Hill 16 during that opening period, with both teams lining out as selected earlier in the week. The first few chances of the match were missed, including a Conor Mortimer free that came back off a post.

There was just a point apiece in the opening ten minutes: a Pearse O'Neill point for the Rebels and a converted ninth-minute Cillian O'Connor free for the Connacht champions. Fintan Goold took a pass from Colm O'Neill and banged over the Leesiders' second score after O'Connor had tagged on a second converted free.

With over 22,000 looking on, full forward O'Connor fired over his third free to restore the westerners' advantage and it stood at 0-3 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter. O'Connor's fourth successful free was an excellent finish from over 50 metres but Goold responded almost instantly, only for corner back Keith Higgins to thump over an inspirational Mayo point.

On 24 minutes, O'Connor had a sniff of goal but his left-foot shot flew well over the bar. Within 40 seconds, centre back Donal Vaughan demonstrated power and accuracy to make it 0-7 to 0-3 to the underdogs after 25 minutes.

Donncha O'Connor effortlessly clipped over a Cork free from in front of the sticks and Mayo custodian David Clarke was breathing a sigh of relief when a long free from opposing captain Graham Canty bounced over him and just about cleared the bar for a freak point that could easily have been a freak goal.

On the stoke of 35 minutes, recently-named Mayo captain Andy Moran thumped over an exquisite point to make it a three-point game again. For some reason Cork wing back Noel O'Leary took exception to Vaughan staying on the ground after being tripped by O'Neill and colliding heavily with Eoin Cadogan - and tried to pull him off the deck, which caused a mini skirmish.

But Cillian O'Connor arrowed over the resultant free in the third added minute at the end of the first half to leave four between them at the short whistle.

Alan O'Connor, Paddy Kelly and Pearse O'Neill drilled over a trio of Cork points within as many minutes upon the resumption and Donncha O'Connor kicked the levelling point in the 44th minute. Mayo hadn't got out of the blocks since the break…

In the 47th minute, Colm O'Neill almost burst the net with a blarger of a goal off his left foot. The No.13 collected a pass inside from Donncha O'Connor and wasted no time in unleashing a rocket which flew past Clarke, giving the exposed Mayo 'keeper no chance.

Kevin McLoughlin floated over Mayo's first score of the second half in the 50th minute but it was to no avail as the game was effectively over as a contest five minutes later when Goold's shot came back into play off a post and full forward Walsh reacted quickest to slam the breaking ball through the despairing dive of a defender to the net: 2-9 to 0-10.

Mayo were feeling aggrieved as they were convinced they should have been awarded a free in front of the posts moments earlier when Lee Keegan appeared to have been impeded by Pearse O'Neill at the other end…

Tempers flared momentarily under the Hill when Moran stayed down after an O'Leary foul and Michael Shields decided to throw the ball at him. Both sets of players were guilty of some ridiculous Premier-League-like antics today and the tendency to over-exaggerate every little contact was embarrassingly evident at times.

Mortimer converted the free, anyway, and Cork substitute Daniel Goulding confirmed that he'll be back for the championship when he notched the closing point.

Cork: Alan Quirke; Ray Carey, Michael Shields, Eoin Cadogan; Noel O'Leary, Graham Canty (0-1), Paudie Kissane; Pearse O'Neill (0-2), Alan O'Connor (0-1); Fintan Goold (0-2), Paddy Kelly (0-1), Paul Kerrigan; Colm O'Neill (1-0), Aidan Walsh (1-0), Donncha O'Connor (0-2). Subs: Daniel Goulding (0-1), Barry O'Driscoll.

Mayo: David Clarke; Kevin Keane , Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins (0-1); Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan (0-1), Colm Boyle; Barry Moran, Jason Gibbons; Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Andy Moran (0-1), Alan Dillon; Conor Mortimer, Cillian O'Connor (0-6), Michael Conroy. Subs: Pat Harte, Enda Varley, Danny Geraghty, Jason Doherty, Richie Feeney.

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