Goals in either half from Valerie Mulcahy and Deirdre O'Reilly helped maintain Cork's unbeaten record in 2006 as they defeated Mayo 2-12 to 1-11 in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies' SFC quarter-final today.
The win at O'Moore Park kept the champions on track for their second All-Ireland success in a row.
The Westerners, willed on by star forward Cora Staunton, who landed 0-07 before her untimely sin-binning in the 52nd-minute, were well in touch until the combination of O'Reilly’s goal, ten minutes into the second half, and a late burst – Mulcahy and Briege Corkery landed the clinching points – saw Mayo come undone.
They had led 1-06 to 1-04 at the interval, getting the ideal start when corner-forward Triona McNicholas slipped the ball to the Cork net in the fifth-minute, after Kelly Colleran’s initial shot had been partially blocked.
Staunton hit three frees to push her side 1-04 to 0-02, but Cork rallied.
Mayo 'keeper Deirdre Devine made a fatal error on 21 minutes when she let a high ball slip from her grasp and Mulcahy sniped onto it to flash a low shot over the goalline.
McNicholas and substitute Marta Carter both pointed in the first half’s closing minutes to keep Mayo in front but Cork hit the first four points after the resumption to really put the 2003 champions under pressure.
Blonde-topped duo Juliet Murphy, the team captain, and Nollaig Cleary (0-03) were on fire during that spell.
O’Reilly’s goal nudged Cork 2-08 to 1-07 clear and despite two immediate frees from Staunton, Mayo could not close that gap.
Cork shut up shop, typified by the performance of full-back Angela Walsh, whose tight marking saw Staunton eventually show the frustration which earned her a yellow card.
The non-nonsense Walsh was also binned, seeing yellow for a subsequent foul on Diane O’Hora, yet a steely Cork defence was rarely troubled in the final skirmishes.
Cork: C O'Donoghue; R Buckley, A Walsh, L Power; G O'Flynn, B Stack, S O'Reilly; J Murphy (0-03 (0-03f)), N Kelly; N Cleary (0-03), D O’Reilly (1-00), A Murphy; V Mulcahy (1-03 (0-02f)), M O'Connor (0-02), C Creedon.
Subs used: M Kelly for A Murphy (44 mins), C Walsh for Creedon (52), B Corkery (0-01) for O'Flynn (54)
Mayo: D Devine; S McGing, H Lohan, C McGing; C O'Hara, N O’Shea, K Colleran; C Egan, J Moran; E Mullin (0-02 (0-01f)), C Heffernan, M Heffernan; C McDermott, C Staunton (0-07 (0-05f)), T McNicholas (1-01).
Subs used: M Carter (0-01) for Moran (28 mins), F McHale for Colleran. (29), A Loftus for M Heffernan (39), D O’Hora for McHale (52).
Referee: Christy Haughney (Carlow).