Nobody told Mayo it was supposed to be an all-Munster National League Final
The script said it was supposed to be a Cork v Kerry National League Final. Obviously Mayo didn't get the memo.
Mayo 2-15 – 1-17 Kerry (after extra time)
Mayo aren’t supposed to beat Kerry in Croke Park, but they achieved such a milestone in the first of the National League semi-finals this afternoon, and in some style too.
In an utterly enthralling encounter at headquarters, James Horan’s men rescued what had seemed like a lost cause when they trailed the Kingdom in the closing stages of both regular and extra-time.
A Cillian O’Connor free with the last kick of the game was enough to bring it into overtime and when they got there, a Richie Feeney point after an inspirational goal from Colm Boyle was enough to separate the sides in the end.
Bryan Sheehan had a chance to level it with a 45 right at the death, but after over 80 minutes of energy-sapping stuff, it was perhaps no surprise that his kick tailed to the left and wide.
In what was a hugely entertaining encounter throughout, Mayo led by 0-9 – 0-7 at the break, with blonde bombshell Conor Mortimer doing the majority of the damage on the scoreboard for the Green and Red.
Kerry fought back after the break and looked to have taken control when a James O’Donoghue goal pushed them five points ahead midway through the second half. Pat Harte converted a penalty to put Mayo back in the hunt and from there until the end of extra time it was nip and tuck all the way to the finish.
Beating Kerry at Croke Park, even if it is the league, is a huge milestone for Mayo and if that wasn’t enough, they’re heading straight on the plane to Portugal for a week’s warm weather training ahead of the final in a fortnight’s time.
Who said it was tough being a Mayo footballer?
Cork 2-17 – 1-12 Down
Like Mayo against Kerry, Down went into today’s NFL semi-final with a terrible recent record against Cork. Unlike Mayo, however, nothing changed for the Mourne men.
Apart from the one-point defeat to the Rebels in the 2010 All-Ireland Final, Down have been a long way second best against the Munster side and that proved to be the case again today when Conor Counihan’s side ran out eight-point winners.
In fairness to Down, Cork didn’t make their supremacy felt until the closing stages as the Ulster men trailed by only two points at the break and by the same margin when Mark Poland blasted home a penalty with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Colm O’Neill, continuing his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury, was outstanding for Cork and posted a personal tally of 1-6, with Alan O’Connor raising the other green flag ten minutes before the finish.
Cork fans will probably have mixed feelings about the fact that Mayo had to go and spoil what had looked like an inevitable meeting with Kerry in the final, but they won’t be too upset if the scoreline is in any way similar to the one-sided 2010 National League Final, when the Rebels had eight points to spare over the Westerners.