Mayo 1-19 Cork 2-15: we dug it out

Final score

With every game this bunch of footballers play, my admiration for them grows. I know that we were far from perfect today – either on the pitch or on the sideline – and that we came far too close to defeat for comfort. But we won, we’re still in it and now we’ve got an All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry to look forward to in three weeks time.

James Horan said in one of the interviews leading up to the game that his aim has been to make the county “consistently competitive”. With four successive All-Ireland semi-final appearances and the possibility of a hat-trick of All-Ireland final days to come, it’s beyond doubt that he’s achieved this.

We all know, of course, that this isn’t enough and that we’ll only ever be fully satisfied by winning the thing out. But being in the mix all the time is something we’re simply not used to and we’ve James and the lads to thank for getting us to the point where this is now what we expect on an annual basis. We can also point to this big-time experience as one of the main reasons why we prevailed today.

The quick straw poll I did at HQ while waiting for our match to come around confirmed that the rumour I’d heard the other day about switches to the team named was pretty much an open secret. It was no surprise, then, when Barry Moran wasn’t named to start, Tom Cunniffe was and Donal Vaughan was shifted away from defensive duties. Donie took up position at centre-forward from the throw-in, with Aidan O’Shea joining brother Seamus in midfield.

Almost from the throw-in, there was an edge to this game. There’s been no love lost between the teams in recent meetings and some of the early physical exchanges confirmed that this was going to be another robust encounter.

What was also clear from early on was that Cork were deploying the same suffocating blanket as they’d used to effect against Sligo last weekend. Cahalane and Collins sat back deep as double sweepers and we spent most of the first half huffing and puffing trying to break them down.

In fact, I felt we played that opening half very much on their terms. They let us come at them but then swallowed up our attacks once we hit the 50-yard mark and our attempts to break their cover repeatedly broke down. Time and again we somewhat surprisingly used Andy Moran as our sole go-to man inside but the balls sent into Andy didn’t stick the way they needed to and Cork were able to break at speed and feed their danger men.

We went from 0-2 to 0-1 up after seven minutes (our points a great opener from Jason Doherty and another one from play by Cillian O’Connor) to 0-5 to 0-2 down after 15 and in that tetchy opening phase we’d also temporarily lost Kevin McLoughlin. He got taken out of it as an attack broke down and he had to go off, with Michael Conroy coming on as a blood sub.

Once Seamus O’Shea boomed over our third point, we then went on to enjoy a more fruitful period, with Cillian also smashing one over from play and another from a free to haul us level. That came after the rampaging Aidan O’Shea was wrestled to the ground, earning Cork’s centre-back Tom Clancy a deserved black card.

Sheamie then fisted over our fourth point on the trot to put us ahead but Colm O’Neill pointed at the other end to level it up. We were still on level terms when the half-time whistle blew, both sides having added two points to their totals, our two knocked over from play by the industrous and effective Alan Dillon.

Cork would have been very happy at the break, I’m sure. Their blanket had worked pretty much to perfection, they’d got in our faces and had prevented us getting into any kind of meaningful rhythm. This one was all to play for, then, as the second half got underway.

We needed to take control of the contest and over the course of a very positive third quarter for us, this was exactly what we did. Doc had posted the opening score of the first half and he did the same on the resumption, when Aido fed Andy who lost it, got it back and provided the assist to Jason who belted it over.

A fisted effort from Donie followed and then Andy added another, with Doc setting it up at the end of a move that began with Aidan winning the kick-out and feeding Alan Dillon.

The Ballintubber man then banged over another one from well out to put us four clear and although another O’Neill point cut the gap to three Kevin Mc quickly responded at the other end.   That was a cracking point and so too was the next one, from Andy, as we surged five clear.

That was Andy’s last involvement in the game, however, as he made way for Enda Varley. It was Alan Dillon who was to the fore again soon after though, with his fourth point from play and when Cillian was fouled and pointed the resultant free himself we were seven clear with twenty minutes to play and really motoring.

I thought then that it was only a matter of time before the goal that would kill them off arrived. Their blanket strategy was in tatters, now they had to chase the game and surely our strong running game would be enough to finish the job.

Only that’s not how it happened. Instead, we shipped three points in as many minutes, with sub Donncha O’Connor starting to make his presence felt.

A harsh free given against us when Tom Cunniffe was penalised for a challenge that was no more than a collision in a race to a 50:50 ball gave O’Connor an easy free to knock over. Now the gap was down to three, we were in trouble all over the field and suddenly it looked as if this match was running away from us.

We needed a score to settle us but a wild Varley effort that went well wide did nothing to help the nerves. Neither did the lack of movement on the sideline – aside from Enda the only switch we’d made was when Chris Barrett was replaced by Brendan Harrison and, with the game in the balance and time running out, we had no-one warming up either.

Cork smelled blood and went for us. Donncha O’Connor’s goal was, from our perspective, wholly preventable (by fair means or, more likely, foul) but he was allowed to shoot from a range which gave Robbie no chance. With the match now back at all-square, it looked then like we were going to be engulfed by the rampant red tide washing over us.

But we weren’t. Cillian had taken a knock (to his shoulder from what I saw) in the lead-up to the goal but even though he was obviously wobbling, he was ice-cool as he guided over a tricky free from out on the right – after Aidan had been poleaxed again – to edge us back in front.

Immediately after this hugely important score, the Ballintubber man was replaced by Alan Freeman. The Aghamore man was given the chance to shine straight away, when a super rob on Walsh led to Aidan feeding Freezer but he blazed it badly wide.

The next attack, though, saw us make what looked like the decisive breakthrough. A now rampant Aidan O’Shea jiggled through the Cork backline with the finesse of a ballet dancer before passing the ball gently to the net. It felt like the dam had burst and, with a four-point cushion and less than five minutes left to play, it felt too like we had the job done.

Only we hadn’t. Cork came right down the other end from the kick-out and Hurley smashed a screamer into our net. It was a fabulous goal but for us deliverance had been snatched away before we’d had the chance to enjoy it.

Alan Dillon then hit a wide and the ghosts of defeats past now began to dance in front of our eyes. Rarely have we extricated ourselves from a situation like this – think back to last year’s final, for example – but extricate ourselves we did, posting two more points to stretch our lead to three.

Donie got the first of these, an outrageous boomer, thumped like a garryowen high into the sky which finally dropped over the bar. Jason Gibbons came on for the titanic Aidan O’Shea and his first touch was massively important in getting us home, playing in Lee Keegan who pointed with calm efficiency.

The frantic denouement saw Cork whittling that lead back to the minimum with two close-in frees from O’Neill. In a situation strangely reminiscent of how last year’s final ended, the Corkman decided to tap over the last one but ref Cormac Reilly blew time on the kick-out and the day was ours.

Mayo team

As I said, it was a far from perfect performance today but it was still a day where we saw some truly heroic shifts put in. Both O’Sheas were superb but I think Aidan’s contribution today exceeded even the mammoth display he put in against Donegal at the same stage last year.  Sheamie meanwhile continues to improve on the big stage and he put in a real storming performance over the seventy minutes.

Alan Dillon proved all the doubters wrong with his best display for ages. His four points from play were all top-class and he was busy and inventive throughout. Jason Doherty also put in a huge performance, aggressive as a terrier in the tackle but also full of purpose in attack.  With Cillian O’Connor and, in particular, Kevin McLoughlin having been singled out for special treatment by the Cork backs, we really needed fresh impetus in attack and the two lads gave it to us, as did Donal Vaughan who came into the match strongly as the contest came to the boil in the final quarter.

Our back line wasn’t as assured as it’s been in the campaign to date. Tom Cunniffe, Keith Higgins, Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle and, when he came on, Brendan Harrison did well but Ger Cafferkey had a torrid time and Chris Barrett was labouring badly for much of the time too. Behind them Robbie was fine and there was nothing he could do to prevent the two goals.

The sideline didn’t have a great day. Enda Varley didn’t spark when he came on and while Brendan Harrison’s introduction helped at the back, the other switches came far too late to have any effect.

On a day of such narrow margins, it’s not surprising that there are good points and bad ones to ponder one. The bottom line, though, is that coming out one-point victors is a hell of a lot better than doing so having lost by the minimum margin. We weren’t perfect, we’ve loads to improve on but we’re still standing and we now have a fourth successive All-Ireland semi to prepare for. In so many ways, you know, these are days of wonder for us.

Mayo: Robbie Hennelly; Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan (0-1), Colm Boyle, Chris Barrett; Donal Vaughan (0-2), Seamus O’Shea (0-1); Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Aidan O’Shea (1-0), Jason Doherty (0-2); Cillian O’Connor (0-5, three frees), Andy Moran (0-1), Alan Dillon (0-4). Subs: Michael Conroy (blood) for Kevin McLoughlin, Brendan Harrison for Barrett, Alan Freeman for O’Connor, Jason Gibbons for Aidan O’Shea.

*****

Finally, a very quick word on our marvellous minors who stormed to victory over Armagh in the day’s opening match at HQ this afternoon. I was full of good intentions to be in my seat ten minutes before throw-in but I have to confess that the half-time break was on by the time I reached the Cusack Stand.

By then, Enda Gilvarry’s lads were already five points to the good and they surged to a facile win in the second half. Brian Reape was the star of the show after the break, weighing in with 2-1, but there’s a lovely balance to the entire team and they play with no little amount of confidence too.

I was told in Bowe’s the night before the All-Ireland last year that it was the class of 2014 rather than the 2013 vintage that was expected to challenge strongly for major honours. On today’s evidence, that certainly appears to be the case and even though we’re still only fourth favourites tonight to lift back-to-back Markham Cup victories this year, it’s pretty clear that it’ll take a very good team to stop this one. More power to you lads.

86 thoughts on “Mayo 1-19 Cork 2-15: we dug it out

  1. We made awful hard work of it.

    Firstly, Andy Moran was just after scoring and assisting in two and taken off for varley, who , as usual added nothing.

    Cillian taken off????

    First half was very poor.

    3rd quarter we played great and then completely fell asleep. Lucky in the end. Skin of our teeth.

    It won’t be enough to beat Kerry. Here’s hoping we can improve for it.

  2. Feck.. my poor ticker.

    This is what sport is all about. This team has shown super mental strenght. We had to give credit to horan for instilling this.

    I think he made the correct decision starting moran & dillion.

    I would seriously question varley for moran.

    HIggins played great, but need to keep him back.

    I suppose the good thing is kerry wont know what to expect and that has got to be good

  3. Also can’t believe how we were opened up for that 2nd goal. Jesus Christ, can u imagine Donegal letting that happen?? No chance. Still need to tighten up at the back.

    Right, time to drive west.

  4. We need to more cynical when the game is in the melting pot, we should have taken a yellow or black card for Corks first goal. This needs to come from the players on the pitch, when we were 7 points up we should have locked it down and as a team said no goals going in against us and this may be our downfall later. All said a brave display to drive on with momentum against us.

  5. Great character today, not playing well but grinding out the result
    What a game by DIllion along with SOS and AOS, but i have to question E Varley, how the hell is he gettin on instead of feeney, conroy or sweeney, id ave gavin Duffy on before him

  6. Well done mayo, James Horan seems to be playing it smart. This time last year we had just beaten Donegal well. Today we just beat cork by a point, playing badly. This is lining up nicely for us. (at least i hope) . We have a few tweeks to make but i feel we are in a good place now. Well done again

  7. Congrats to both our teams, did the county proud. We’re a tough feckin outfit now!
    I’ve plenty to say but I’ll wait a while….cool off!

  8. I think I aged at least 10years today.didn’t understand the subs,Varley on before Freeman was a strange call.but Dohertywas brilliant again

  9. From 1 to 9, we did the business as we’ve come to expect and fair play to them!
    Forward of that Kevin Mc and Doc played very well.
    Eating some humble pie, Dillon did well, except he slowed the attack too much at times and didn’t tackle when Cork were breaking out.
    Cillian had an off day because he was bullied by Cork. Vaughan didn’t work at 11 and Andy should be kept for the last quarter impact.
    Couldn’t believe the subs. Same old shite – no names necessary !
    We seem to have a death wish!
    Remain very sorry for Freeman, Gibbons, Feeney, and Sweeney not being given more deserved opportunities – it’s not that there isn’t a need for any of them in the forward unit

  10. Winning ugly. A Gritty performance by Mayo.

    The positives:

    – Thought Seamie O’Shea was immense; in particular his much maligned distribution was very good. AOS was excellent too.

    – Doherty had a superb game – a real nuisance to Cork with great harrying and also he took his scores well.

    – Dillon got 4 from play which can’t be discounted. He is a very intelligent footballer and knows how to take up good positions.

    – Vaughan and Cunniffe were also solid, both hardy men. Vaughan a good option up front but must back himself on the one on one with the goalkeeper.

    – The mental resilience on display is the real takeout from the match. Each time we conceded a major score we responded with one of our own.

    Negatives:

    – 7 points up and didn’t ram it home. Need we say more.

    – concession of goal after ours – inexcusable.

    – the full back line was poor today. Not tight enough. James O Donoghue will need 2 men on him like evostik.

    – Mcloughlin was literally held (illegally) by the jersey for the whole match. His lack of size goes against him in these situations. His influence was missed as a result.

    – COC was well policed too. We need a plan B in that line. That is not Varley and Conroy.

    Overall this performance will stand to the team better than last years mauling at the same stage. Kerry are very vulnerable in the full back line and at midfield.

  11. Game 4 now in the bag, but it was very mixed performance ,James got it right with the Dillon call , Andy seemed to slip a lot (must be bad boots )Doc ,,Seamus & Aidan had good games ,Our half back line never seemed to get going , Cillian had better days , And the full back line needs major tweaking for the Kerry game .Bookies have us slight favorites to beat kerry

  12. Where to start…

    I said after the CF that Barrett looked off the pace and was chided by many on here. Well today again -along with Cafferkey- it was the same situation back there..Tom Cunniffe should have been detailed to mark one of Hurley/O’Neill from the start..

    Horan’s substitutes were absolutely brutal.. We have no idea whose going to come on in a game..Must have most of the subs’ confidence in absolute bits..To compound matters he takes off Cillian with 5 minutes left..Our main freetaker who had just nailed a brilliant pressure kick..It doesn’t matter how he was playing he needed to be kept on.

    In each game the decisions on the line get harder to justify and defend.

    We’re as far away from Sam as we’ve ever been i’m afraid

  13. Well done both teams great times to be a Mayo supporter. Cork to their credit played well today.

    But how R Feeney is not utilised more and finally there is a certain forward who keeps getting chances to perform and has and never will do it…..

  14. Jeez lads some of the negativity…

    We’ve just beaten Cork to make an AI semi, our 4th on the trot. I’m feckin delighted anyway

    Grand it wasn’t out best ever performance but who cares we won that’s all that matters. We’d lads complaining we were untested last year, and lads complaining now we’re not good enough.

    Hands up who would have given their left arm to be back in an AI semi with a provincial title in the bag and beating a footballing powerhouse in Cork after that awful day last September

    For what it’s worth I’m 100% certain we’ll beat Kerry. I’ve said it all along here they’re finished completely and are no great shakes. They were brutal today

  15. And I was impressed with Cork the shaggers played miles better than they have all champ. They’ll be very dangerous next year

    It’s funny looking at them being mauled by Kerry, and I thought cork looked a good bit better than Kerry today

  16. Unconvincing win the defence leakage becoming very worrying now however quarter finals are to be won and Cork threw the everything into that game. Kerry looked less that great either and if Mayo tighten up in defence then Mayo should be looking at another AI final appearance. Well done to minors all too easy against average Armagh outfit the run out in Croke park is a big bonus before the semi final.

  17. I’m delighted for Alan Dillon. 4 points from play and 2 crucial ones in the first half when we were trailing 8-6. I hope that quietens the begrudgers. the amount of negative comments that are fired his way are disgusting.

    I suppose the performance today was just adequate. A lot of players need to improve especially in defence. It’s good to have things to improve on going into the Kerry game. Onwards and upwards.

  18. Thanks, Peter – more hurry, less speed and all that.

    All – I’ve had to reset the poll so if you’ve voted already you’ll need to do so again for it to be recorded. Apologies for that.

  19. Varley 4 Moran could hav cost us the game. What was Horan at .? Mayo showed grit to win it. Full back line needs work. Happy 2 win it though

  20. Met a kerry lad there who informed me that Mayo are a ‘manufactured’ team with no natural players & he would’ve been much more worried playing Cork rather than us. Breathtaking arrogance

  21. Well done mayo and minors.
    Fair play to dillon, very gud display against a narky cork.
    2xo o sheas were very gud with vaughan, doherty and keith the pick of the crew.
    I know we have issues but fuck it these lads are some bunch.
    Lets enjoy the ride.

  22. This Mayo team are no longer “The Uncle Toms” of championship football. We expect this Mayo team to win and win well. We should not apologise for being confident in our team which has been pipped at the post for two years running. If we have a hand to show we didn’t show it today that’s for sure but still we remain.

    Cork can feel hard done, if Cork were Mayo I’d be fuming right now, instead of feeling a little smug and self satisfied. Not because we won a hard fought battle but because despite losing our way and not doing a Donegal on Cork, which at times almost looked inevitable, we still managed to scrape home

    Look if we can skim past Kerry which we’re well capable off and blow the fucking lid clean off the pressure pot against the Dubs in the final, that will do me.

  23. Not long in the door. Delighted with todays performance. I got it wrong about dillon starting, played well i thought. Will be tomorrow before i get any photos uploaded, heading for a few celebratary pints!!

  24. The physio was on to O’Connor a few mins before he went off. I thought he was cramping, but brother said the exercises he was doing were hamstring. If his hamstring was tight, he was best to come off before it tore.

  25. Just in door. Delighted with that but we made hard work of it.

    2 o sheas outstanding. Dillon very good also. Think Moran better utilised as impact sub but not sure who should start in his place. We lack options off bench which will cost us this year.

    Was Barry Moran injured or tactical change beforehand?

    Hard to know what to make of Kerry. They looked like they were cruising and had few more gears if needed. We will destroy them in middle but they will destroy our full back line

  26. Well done to all, players and management. They really do deserve this and more.

    I was one of those who didn’t agree with Dilllon’s selection and am delighted to admit I was wrong. Well done Alan. A great servant of Mayo football. James you were right this time.
    But our shortcomings in defense and substituting would have been more severely punished by others.

  27. Well done mayo,another one in the bag,feeney and Sweeney definitely deserve more opportunities though,excellent football from the o sheas ,dillion,,defence was poor improvement needed there lads but a win is a win,well done looking forward our next trip to Croker,ps Cork management showed poor sportsmanship.

  28. Absolutely heart-stopping stuff! Unreal! Mixed emotions I must say coming out of that. Definitely loads to work on and I agree that we are in trouble against Kerry if we repeat that performance at the back.
    The most striking thing about that for me was the way we managed to rise up to the intense physical battle that Cork made of the game from the get-go. Certain Mayo players were very much targeted, Cillian and Kevin especially I thought. It was non-stop and not easy against big, powerful Cork men. But we fought back.
    I must say, fair play to Doc who did really, really good and has established himself now in his position – And he copped a lot of messing from his marker today too but dealt with it very well and has really come into his own.
    And yes, Dillons first two points were very crucial. Well done to him.

    I knew this game wouldn’t be easy, and it very nearly got away from us. However, it does say a lot that we managed to hold on. Between that and the Roscommon game, the nerves are wrecked! But getting through a battle like that can only help.
    Seamie was immense throughout – and several others clearly showed, that when things got tough, and when the serous pressure came on, they had the fight and resolve within them once again.
    Cunnife I thought was excellent, pace to burn and read everything very well.

    It seems we still don’t fully know what our forwards are. Although Freeman had an awful wide, he had an excellent turnover that led to our goal. I’d love to see it clicking between himself and Cillian in the FF line. Perhaps it needs to be given another go.

    Hard to think at the moment given the day that it has been!! Energy is gone…

    Another semi-final though….can not wait!!

  29. Anyone know if Cillian’s shoulder is ok ? Seemed to be feeling it just before he came off.

  30. Superb result but we made hard work of it.

    Substitutions were baffling practically all of them and the ones not made.
    D.O.Connor not in first 26 yet started against Roscommon. Theres a lot of hard thinking and talking to be done.
    O Sheas pure class- Andy & Alan and Jason did very well but we were naïve in defence against two very good forwards.
    Kerry supporters after wondering bout Dublin. I asked if they had got a bye to final- shocking arrogance. Yet I think Horan needs some tactical advice- that’s not criticism- it just is hard to get everything right. He got the team spot on but not the subs.
    Proud to be in the mix (again)

  31. Rob hennelly C
    Ger caff C
    Barrett D
    Cunniffe B
    Higgins B
    Boyle D
    Keegan C+
    Donal Vaughan C
    Seamus A
    Aidan B +
    Alan Dillon B
    Doc B-
    kevin mac C
    Cillan D+
    Andy D-

  32. Well done lads great win also the minors today any stand out players in that match wonder will cillian be out for semi final really hope not

  33. Mayo remind me of cork in 89, played their best football in 87 & 88 but won playing less well in 89 – so hopefully!

    Well done lads but the subs used are a mystery to me. Varley and Conroy are tried and tried and whats the end result?

    As WJ said the game was slipping away with gibbons and feeney looking on.

    But. 4 semis in a row is fab. Overall Cork looked a better team than Kerry.

    We owe Kerry big time!

  34. Absolutely delighted that we won today. I agree with ciaran above re negativity. A game like that will surely stand more to us than a easy win. I am sure there will be plenty of talking points and improvements to be made, but we all need to sit back and admire these men who are the ones doing the hard slog day in day out to give us days like this. Also congrats to the minors who did very well today. Hon mayo

  35. Good win. that will stand to us for sure. Thought there was some great individual performances. AOS I thought was immense and covered some a savage amount of ground. When I saw him in league I could tell he had lost muscle and had a feeling he was going to play a more mobile role this year. Thought Doc was very good as well and put players under a lot of pressure and he has not put in 2 back to back solid games. Vaughan had a great second half SOS had a solid game too and stood up when needed and Cunniffe put in a good game. Full back line needs to tighten up big time. Andy is off the pace in my opinion may be better used as an impact sub. I do believe if we can go on from this and up the performance for the next game that we will land into our third consecutive all Ireland final. You could see with the patch we had in the third quarter that we can up the intensity when needed. There is a big game in us and I hope we can keep it for AIF. Just a few words on the minor team. They were very good . I was really impressed with them and a serious outfit . Bring on the Kingdom.

  36. We needed a very tough test against a top Division 1 opposition – and we certainly got it today. This can only but stand to us as we prepare for the Kerry game. Some serious cracks exposed that will need to be worked in the next three weeks. I believe the defense will tighten up – we all know the quality is there and the lessons will be learned in this area hopefully. The area that I think most people still worry the most about is our full forward line – we are still somewhat short on both the pace to get away from the marker and skill levels to execute the snap shot against the better defenders in the more organised blanket defenses – if we can’t improve in this area to will come back bite us. Saying that its still much better to have won ugly today than to have coasted home to victory with little learned for the challenges ahead. The character shown by our lads once again today knows no bounds.

  37. Errrisbeo. do not give up on mayo. We are spoilt. Four Connaught titles. league finals and semi finals . Two all Ireland finals. Even if Kerry or Monagan beat us and it stretches to a possible 64 years we are so fucking lucky. Just walked into my east London home and will never stop following these lads. Briillant win .

  38. A one point win is plenty good enough for me. Delighted with win and the courage and heart of the lads. The o Shea’s are beasts.

    When we went 7-up I felt the game was over and I’m afraid so did the lads on the pitch. Their intensity dropped dramatically and the substitution of Andy Moran seemed to signal that we were home and dry.
    It seems wrong to be critical after such an important win but surely Alan Freeman, Barry Moran, Jason Gibbons, Richie Feeney, Tom parsons and Mikey Sweeney are well ahead of enda Varley……..and even possibly Conor O Shea or Diarmuid o Connor or at least they were going into the Ros game. I just don’t get it!
    1-19 is a great score…….however conceding 2-15 isn’t so great. Our defending in the second half wasn’t good enough and unless there is a dramatic improvement I fear the Kerry forwards will kill us.

  39. Delighted with the performances by both teams today. What a day!!!!!
    Just home after a long day and it’s so good to have the next 3 weeks to dream about what may happen. It was good to see the fight in Mayo, they won’t take no for an answer but James Horan is going to shoot himself in the foot with some of his substitutions, open your eyes man!
    I think a real review of the game will open the eyes for jh and co, he’s going to need to get it sorted before it ends in tears.
    Anyway, enough about it, well done and thank you to all involved with Mayo senior and minor teams, a credit to us all.

  40. So a one point win and one we will take gladly. However I feel this is a game we could have won by an easy 8 points if we had taken just 2 more of the 6 goal chances we made for ourselves – maybe its for the best and we are saving these for more demanding tests.

    One thing that stood out for me today was that Cork looked a taller more physical outfit than Kerry – especially along their Half Back line. And their Full back line has no totem poles either which got me thinking about their days in training and the kind of small forwards they do be marking – not much high ball going into them in training I’d be thinking ! Anyone for throwing Big Bird up front and lobbing a few high balls into him just to see what might happen.

    Anyways it was a terrific day to be following the Green and Red as our Minors were pure class and were a joy to watch again giving a really polished display in HQ.Not many teams will want to meet them after seeing that. And the most pleasing part of the seniors was the way the reacted to adversity 3 times. A poor first half – raced to a 7 point lead in Q3 – Cork equalise with a goal – we react with a goal – they score another goal – we tack on 3 points again.

    It takes a class outfit to do all that. Congrats on your win lads .

  41. The reality is mayo are a battle hardened unit who have acquired a massive mental resilience who refuse to lie down.
    Kerry are formidable and in James o donohue they have a player who has the ability to destroy any defence.mayo will have to double up on him .

    However Kerry do not have mayos physical intensity and tackling ability and will not employ a blanket defence thank god.

    We really have to get the forward permutations right the next day and I don’t want to see varley brought on again as he has proven time again that he is not up to it at this level.believe andy was taken off too soon.i agree he is not the same player he was pre cruciate injury,but he is a wily warrior whose intelligent play creates chances for others.could someone buy him longer studs for Kerry game.

    As wj pointed correctly it is really a fantastic achievement to be contesting a third all Ireland semi final and hopefully a 3rd all Ireland final.you may not witness this again for some time.so enjoy the journey.

    I believe destiny awaits these men in september.

  42. Bar Dublin, who haven’t played a big team yet in this championship, there hasnt been so many one side matches this year as in past couple of championships. Kerry’s defeat of Cork was the only one of note and looks like that was a fluke of sorts.
    Glad that Mayo are negotiating more difficult challenges this year . We needed something different and we’re getting it – Roscommon and Cork have put it up to us. The positive is we dug deep to win both and to me that’s the kind of experience that will stand to us. It probably stood to us today in fact.
    So less of the negativity. These are a great bunch of players who all deserve credit. We can’t expect each and every player to be 100% in every match. Football doesn’t work like that. Perfect performances are rare. What we have is a team who work hard from the throw in to the final whistle – and we have to allow that teams like Cork are more than capable of pushing us all the way. No team has any right to expect an easy ride at the business end of the championship and I’m sure JH and the players know that better than any of us

    Job done today. We’re in the last 4 standing. Now it’s Kerry to focus on.
    Well done to seniors and minors today. How many counties out there would love to be where we are right now? At least 26 at the last count !

  43. Hats off to JH and this wonderful group of players. While some here choose to criticise our manager and certain individuals I instead see 4 Conn in a row and now 4 AISF in a row something we could not have dreamed off in 2010. I know some players did not go well today. I know some subs may be puzzling but that’s life and that’s sport . They are human, they don’t all play well every single game, who does. What they always do is give their absolute best and make us proud of the county we are from. If that is not enough for some people well that is unfortunate. Some who had been criticised heavily here in the build up were brilliant today. I know it wasn’t perfect but we annihilated Donegal a year ago with a near perfect performance and all it got us was into a semi same as today. Yes I am concerned about our defence cant agree with poster who said we were good from 1 to 9 but we have 3 weeks to work on that. Under this regime We have beaten all the top teams Dublin Cork Tyrone Donegal in championship all except Kerry. We get chance to do that in 3 weeks. Well done JH and your team .You make us proud.

  44. I had said that my concern going into today was our defence. Leaked way too much v Galway and same tday. They need to sit down and sort it out otherwise Kerry will punish us.

    We just managed to get over the line thru sheer will and guts, but we’ll need more than that v kerry.

    Onwards and upwards…

  45. We are in fact a modern superpower. These lads are the best team since 51′. Please put your quibbles aside. If there is someone who can do better nominate him or her at the appropriate time.

  46. Sitting in a hotel bar in North Carolina and reflecting on today. First, it’s knockout .. Wins count, performances are moral victories ! Delighted with win. This year it’s been a more low key Mayo , but we’ve played in bursts that show what might be possible if it comes together on one big day !! We are no doubt good enough to win any game against any team on a given day. Kerry are ideal in some ways as we really really want to beat them at this level .. And assuming Dubs make final are not a defensive unit so we get 2 similar outfits in a row. Although it’s a nightmare losing finals .. Would we rather not be there at all like 30 othe counties. Let’s keep a high standard .. Horan has brought this team from disaster to contenders .. After that a bit of luck is needed and we’ll get there. P.s delighted for Dillon today .. Great lad !

  47. WJ, when you have a big wind at your back you dont put one of the smallest men on the panel at No 14, Richie Feeny’s involvement in the team or lack of it continues to baffle, subs generally also a puzzlement, that being said, well done to the lads for sticking in, the O Shea’s give it their all every day they tog for Mayo and finally kudos to Robbie Hennelly who ran out the field and gave a gee up to his team mates when they were a bit flat. on we go ..

  48. I have reflected on the game since its conclusion and after reading all the posts here and as many articles in the nationals papers as possible, I am of the view that this game today will serve us well. In fact the Roscommon victory earlier on in the summer was perhaps a blessing in disguise. As previous posters have stated, we are exacty the same stage as last year even though we utterly overwhelmed Donegal. There is only one prize we are all after and they dont hand out cups for quarter final victories. This victory even though it has its flaws will again serve as a blessing in disguise. I have to admit i personally came into this game ( granted I wasnt playing) with a degree of arrogance. i dont think for one second the players underrated the oppsoition at all, but i did. Cork are serious outfit , all ireland champions in 2010 as we know but for some unknown reason i discounted that. If we win this thing and i hope we do, today will serve as a real lesson to us all. Thank you WJ for this blog, as an emigrant in the USA , i find it fantastic during the championship season

  49. 2am and I am still not right after today. I thought I was going to give myself an aneurysm at one point. A thriller but god, they don’t make it easy for us.

    Lots to say but most of it has been said above already. Aido & Seamie immense. Jason Doc was superb. Dillon an utterly class act, but did think he slowed the attack more than once. Still worried about our FB line and our lack of defensive options the bench.

    Speaking of the bench, I have no issue with players underperforming on the field of play, but what does worry me is poor decision-making on the sideline and once again today we saw enough to cause us concern. While I’m a big Horan fan I have no problem suggesting that this is an area in which he struggles and has done so consistently. Bringing on Varley made no sense to me – none whatsoever and of all people to be called in, Andy would not have been the one.

    But sure look, we ground out a win once again in a game we’d have lost three years ago and that’s good enough for me. Just the way we want it – unconvincing! And we have another glorious couple of weeks to dream.

    Massive congrats to our excellent minors too on their win.

  50. The sideline has be called into question again. At a time when we needed to kill off the game, Andy, Cillian and Aiden were taken off. We lost crucial ball in the top third as a direct result (between turnovers and wides) which led to Cork scores at the other end. Kerry or Dublin won’t make mistakes like that and if we make them again, Kerry or Dublin will punish us with even more ease than Cork did.

  51. Interesting to see the criticism of EV………but he’s in 5th place overall in our MOTM poll !

  52. Am baffled by horans game management. He is brilliant at all other aspects of the game. Gaago came in loud and clear in Bali and the sweat was out on me .
    Jason doc my man of the match followed closely by O’sheas. Although doc error did lead to goal.
    Andy moran was falling around the place . What is it with our players boots and croke park?? Do they not have a set of long studs? It’s madness .

    Agree with most comments about the subs . Varley should not have been on the park. Mikey C either in my humble opinion as blood sub. He lost a fair few possessions.

    Chris barrett not at the races either. Could have been replaced earlier. Freeman very good apart from his very first touch!

    Higgins is an awesome player. The O’sheas are unreal. O connor was excellent. He frightens the opposition. What a player to have. Hennely did very well some lovely kick outs to mayo players. Kevin mac on the way back to his best. Dare I say it he might peak soon!
    Cunniffe another candidate for motm.

    Brolly called it right I am afraid. We have to stop letting in the sucker goals

  53. Two wins yesterday for us and that’s what its all about – we move on.

    JH got his team selection bang on at the start with Cunniffe showing how a good sweeper should play.

    We won lots of possession thanks to some brilliant work by SOS in particular.

    We showed the hunger, organization and resolve you associate with these guys.

    We were 7 points up with 20 mins to go and lets be honest here we were crusing.

    And then what happened did we slack off or did Cork bring on more influential subs or did our lads tire. The key is to find out why we lost such a good lead, while playing with a very strong wind.

    Things that just puzzle are

    1. Why did Andy keep slipping, if it was a studs issue it would have been sorted at half time but he kept slipping in the second half as i was on the hill and had a great view of this.

    2. I would have preferred if Jason G had come on a 5 or 10th mins earlier as we needed fresh legs.

    2. Enda V won one free, he also slipped a number of times – you would swear he had borrowed Andy’s boots (aka rollerskates). Note that the Cork FF’s were not slipping.

    3. Who was actually marking Donnacha O’Connor he made a huge difference when he came in….

    4. All in all best possible way to go into a semi final as the question marks around the team have just been amplified. We need two speed merchants in the full back line to deal with James Od and Guiney.

    5. 3 WEEKS to go and one thing for sure this team will not go out in a whimper like our 04 and 06 exploits against Kerry. A repeat of 1996 will do just fine, well done for now.

  54. To the people giving out about criticism I’m not sure how to answer it…I don’t see it as criticism more as discussion..When it is said that Chris Barrett is way off the pace from last year, there’s no criticism there it’s just the truth..Now there’s the presumption that everyone on here knows that he has struggled with injuries all year which is a mitigating factor.

    Of course i’m happy Mayo are in the semi’s, but the stated aim of Horan this year is All Ireland or bust..And we don’t look like All Ireland winners at the moment..Again part of this is Horan’s baffling man management and substitutions. A few examples of this are available in every match and yesterday was no different..

    Alan Freeman was our MOTM in the semi last year now hes a three minute sub
    Michael Conroy was our first blood sub, never even came on then
    Taking off Cillian even if on one leg we needed him for any possible frees
    Mikie Sweeney prob our most dangerous forward in the league, off the face of the planet now
    DOC & COS start first game, barely on the panel now
    Feeney & Gibbons no need to elaborate further on them..

    Now I don’t see how there can be any confidence in a squad when there is so much uncertainty beyond our first 12 players

    One last point..the consensus on here is that it’s better to be playing badly now compared to playing well last year??!! What sport is this axiom true in? None..Any person who has played sport knows its better to be playing well and with confidence rather than struggling in a game and being racked with doubt( our full back line)..If Cork even lost midfield 60/40 yday we were gone and that’s massively worrying.

  55. Yesterday’s games told us all we need to know about the semi final. James o donaghue will be a problem if he’s not marked by 2 men, he’s that strong and fast that he will destroy any single player we have and that Kerry can be beaten if he’s slowed or stopped.
    Galways forwards are the reason we aren’t playing them instead in 3 weeks, appalling wides, wonder if the media will mention it?

    It’s worth viewing the game again just to see Cillian o c control a massive dropping ball with his foot and toe poking it to a teammate to score, world class control. World class

  56. Great win ,yesterday, really ground out the result and kept coming back.
    That was a Cork team with very good footballers and one poor performance against Kerry did not make them a bad team, so it was a great win.
    We now have a chance to take on Kerry in an All Ireland semi final and a win over them, is long over due and what it would do for our confidence , going forward.
    I think, Tom Cuniffe, is the man for O Donoghue, Tom would give him plenty to think about , and would ruffle his feathers .O Donoghue , needs to be reminded that he is in a game.
    I would play Aiden O Shea, at centre forward against Kerry, as Galway’s goal scored by their mid fielder running down the middle shows , they may be vulnerable, in this area .No doubt James Horan will have noted this.
    I can not understand why James persists with his first subs, always brought on, either of which have nothing to offer, both have been given chance after chance, with other fine players left on the line.
    Looking forward to Kerry game.
    We are where we want to be , and what a great time, to be a Mayo supporter.

  57. Errisbeo, I agree with a lot of what you say, and your points are well made. We can all see the issues at the back, in particular the leaking of easy which has to be addressed. However, in fairness to Horan he has given other lads their chances in the full back line and these problems were still present then also. So, I’d be very reluctant to be single out players in that way before I could identify viable alternatives to come off the bench.

  58. Just rewatched the game on tv & i know why Andy was slipping–in the Cork huddle one of their players is peeing on the grass !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  59. Great win but disappointed about Horans refusal to shake hands after with cork management, and his reasons, I think it looks bad when you refuse to shake hands. Then again I think a lot of neutrals are starting to dislike mayo, and I think this is a good thing. In my experience the teams everyone hates seem to win nearly everything. Sick of being everyone’s favourite second team and winning nothing. Might build a bit of a siege mentality in the camp. Without the 2 o Shea’s we would be a fairly ordinary side. Delighted for Dillon also. Some of the shite that’s been written and spoken about him over last while was downright disgraceful.

  60. Great win
    Plenty of room for improvement .
    Glad our management team kept faith in doc -is really coming into his own and can still , Alan Dillon 4 points – think this justified his selection . I would not knock any of our players- they are a very determined group and all have the same ultimate goal . Hope Cillian is ok , seemed to take a heavy contact to his shoulder . Waiting game again for us supporters till the Kerry game …….
    Back to hard work for everyone involved in this panel .

  61. Mac’s left boot . I think we are turning a small bit nastier at last – no handshake , not getting bullied around the pitch . We are not taking any nonsense from the opposition . On a couple of occasions our players stood their ground when being pushed around . There is a controlled aggression built into this team .

  62. I think criticism of andy is bit harsh….. he set up a few scores and scored himself. I thought he one enough ball. In my opinion horan was justified in starting the two lads, dillon been the other. Great mental strength. Vaughan came good when he was needed. Good test for us. We learned nothing about ourselves this time last year……. but we are working towards a big performance. …. kerry will not have the same amount of time on the ball as galway allowed them….

  63. Great day. Fair play WJ that was great reading. Dont know how you do it.

    AOS was the difference between the sides. We wont have a more physical match this year. They took cillian, alan mc, and doc out of it in the last ten with fisticuffs. Some win when you take that into account.

    Free holiday in westport for the ref!

  64. Delighted we beat them. Cork are afraid to stand up to Kerry but tried to bully our lads particularly the smaller lads on the team. Didn’t see them trying too much with the two O’Sheas.. After the recent league final and this latest instalment they obviously feel that they can punch and kick Mayo off the field. But we stood up to them and beat them and I’m glad they lost by a point and feel hard done by.

    Rebels my arse, more like Thugs in my opinion.

  65. As usual, agree with willie joe’s analysis. Also agree totally with kob. I have used the same phrase myself many times recently-we are now a football superpower. Thought the o’sheas were superb. Doherty, Dillon and Vaughan (in 2nd. Half) also. For 2 years, Dillon has been shamefully disrespected on this site. Do people not remember how he ran the show against the dubs in 2012? Most satisfying thing yesterday was the sheer guts and courage of the players. I’ve see horan’s logic in bringing in Varley – he has often scored great points when we are in driving seat. Was poor yesterday and Sweeney needs to be given his chance now. Also thought Barry should have been introduced when cork fight back was in full flow. Think Stephen Coen could come into picture for semi-final.

  66. No doubt but correct team started.I really dont see.Enda or Micky C having enough to give at this stage as they are behind some others.
    Think Dillon and Moran showed they can score but Barratt is behind Harrison in my view.
    O Sheas are colossal. Hennelly superb but Cafferky needs to get confidence back but still the man for the job.
    Diamuid O Connor was not in subs nor Duffy.Freeman is our first sub for forwards and thst is clear especially if Andy was going off.I wouldnt have taken him off.
    Horan in my view and I really love and admire James should have shut down game by pulling back Vaughan into backline when we were Four points up and even when 7 up.Leaving Backs one on one with defenders at those points was naive.
    At one point Higgins Cunniffe and Keegan up front with Barratt and Cafferkey and 3 Cork lads back.That is silly.
    Overall magic performance.Old Mayo teams would have folded and refreshing that everyone has identified the problems.Now definitely one game at a time and repeat 96 win over Kerry where Horan was immense.Will buy PJ few points after that and plan strategy for AI.!

  67. Reading O’Keeffe in the times this morning he fancies Kerry to shade the semi due to their FF line and our full back line which has not played to its potential since the Tyrone game last year.

    We certainly have more to work than Kerry. We played brilliantly for 15 mins yesterday but that was that. As WJ said, and I think everyone will agree, we played the first half on corks terms…letting them have possession from kickouts. When we forced their keeper to go long it swung the balance our way.

    Fitzmaurice is a cute hoor…he is shrewd and our management of the game, tactics, mid-game
    decisions, subs, etc needs to be spot on in 3 wks time. We need to take the game to kerry.

    Freeman seems to have really fallen from grace compared to 12 months ago. Need him firing now..and pushing for a start.

  68. Very happy with the win. Golden era to be a supporter. Cork really put up a fight but our lads fought harder & won. Best moment … moved the ball round with great composure when nothing on near the end & over to other side of the pitch ending in Vaughan’s point. Cork really put in some hard hits & we didn’t get duped into retaliation. Dislike the comment above about being nasty, sport is about playing to the best of your ability within the rules. Black card was brought in to rule out cynicism. We were hard but fair. Keegan could’ve gotten one but the game was over. Very happy in hindsight with decision to play Dillon, his decision making was top class especially in 1st half with so many Cork men back. His score taking crucial. Also with Andy, he played very well & deserved the full 70 mins. I think management thought we had it in the bag at 16-9 & Cork heads starting to drop. FF argument is over, Freeman needs to concentrate now on dying for the cause in whatever cameo roles he gets. All about the team now. Feeney will jump up the q so hopefully he will be in positive frame of mind. Every team has one or 2 lads who seem to lose out a bit too often, hopefully he’ll see through that, could be needed. Disappointed too for B Moran but Vaughan played well & made one unreal catch at a crucial time. Higgins needed in FB line in next game unless we want to sacrifice Keegan who kept Kerrigan very quiet. Some man marker. So B Moran might get chance if Vaughan moves back. Harrison looked decent in short time he was on. Amused at posters on about the fright & hard work, not as if Cork came to lose the game. Most big games it’s about millimetres & we won by just doing a few things better than Cork. Things to work on but we’re still in. Huge effort these days, well done team & management.i

  69. From the outset, I will admit that I said on a previous thread here that I believed Cork would win by the minimum. It was my belief that Cork had a major kick left in them and for me I hadn’t seen enough from Mayo to suggest that they could pull it off especially in the defence and against a sweeper system. I am delighted this morning to be proved wrong.

    Others here have articulated better than I could about our fairly obvious shortcomings yesterday, both on the sideline and on the field of play so there is no need for me to repeat the same. For me a key issue I think needs to be looked at is how to defend against the deep runners coming from our oppositions half back/midfield sector. As a team we must give our defenders the best chance possible of covering off their men. We were sitting ducks yesterday at times with Damian Cahillane especially coming forward creating the two on ones. This doesn’t just apply to playing against a sweeper system, it refers to more conventional, traditional set ups aswell where there will be deep runners also.

    For what its worth i’m predicting a win over Kerry by 2 points. I cant wait for it!! Mayo Abu.

  70. Peewee09, could you not stick with the negative view for the semi outcome please? I’d like the trend of the opposite of what you predict happening to continue 🙂

  71. @ East Cork Exile If it means we win then i think James O Donohue, Brian Sheehan and the O Sullivans to run riot on our lads, with us losing by 3. I hope im wrong but thats how i see it!! Please excuse my typo predicting a Mayo win above.

  72. Good to grind out win, thought Armagh minors were very poor,,boiler Doherty ,the 2 osheas and dillion were excellent , felt sorry for Donnie being played out of position.i have always defended jameshoran but not after yesterday ,it really kills me to say it but his decision making on the big days could cost us dearly.he has brought us to a whole new level with the best footballers mayo has to offer ,…

  73. Maybe nasty was not the word to use to describe us . We are tough but fair . We won’t take hits and insults . We will react in a controlled manner . We have that edge to our game now . We still have issues to resolve regards the space opposing teams are finding once they break from midfield area and run at us . Plenty of things to be worked on for next game .

  74. I spent the week defending the possible inclusion of Dillon and Moran so I’m feeling quite smug today.

    The two O’Sheas were absolutely immense today. Seamie is a very underrated player. doc and Dillon were both superb also. COC and McLoughlin were quiet but were it augurs well that we were able to get over the line without either firing as usual.

    The full back line is a real concern. I thought the all struggled at times but Caff was roasted for the second game in a row. The second goal was particularly galling as we had ample time and opportunities to tackle and/or foul.

    Bottom line though is we got the job done against a decent side. This was always going to be a battle against a side that needed to redeem themselves. We’re into ANOTHER semi final and we really do need to stop for a minute and acknowledge the consistency and quality of this squad over the last four years.

    The dream is alive – Maigh Eo Abu!!!

  75. Hold on a second here, is this post actually for real?

    “Rob hennelly C
    Ger caff C
    Barrett D
    Cunniffe B
    Higgins B
    Boyle D
    Keegan C+
    Donal Vaughan C
    Seamus A
    Aidan B +
    Alan Dillon B
    Doc B-
    kevin mac C
    Cillan D+
    Andy D-”

    What in the name of sweet divine Jaysus were you watching on Sunday? Andy Moran D-? Is that what a player gets for creating 4 points and scoring 2? I can’t wait to see his A+ performance. He’ll be kicking 4-16. Unbelievable.

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