CORA Staunton collected 1-11 as Mayo romped to a 21-point victory over Kildare in Saturday’s TG4 All-Ireland SFC qualifier in Ballinasloe.
Mayo bounced back from their Connacht final loss against Galway, to set up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash with Ulster champions Donegal in a fortnight.
Without hitting the heights she’s capable of, ace forward Staunton weighed in with a big individual contribution, including 1-3 from play.
Between them, Mayo’s inside trio of Staunton, Sarah Rowe and Grace Kelly finished with 3-17.
Rowe scored 1-4 and Kelly added 1-3 as Mayo produced a much-improved second half performance, with the aid of the breeze at Duggan Park.
Trailing by six points at half-time, Kildare narrowed the gap back to three with an unanswered treble to kick-start the second half.
But they wouldn’t score again from the 34th minute, as Mayo registered 2-12 without reply until the finish.
Kildare will be relegated back to the intermediate ranks if Cork beat Monaghan on Monday – but they battled gamely against quality opponents.
They were undone in the second half when their most impressive player, Róisín Byrne, was sin-binned, and the Lilywhites had lost captain Erica Burke to injury in the first half.
In the ten minutes that Byrne was off the pitch, a four-point Mayo lead stretched out to eleven, and further salt was rubbed in Kildare’s wounds before full-time.
Mayo were 1-8 to 0-5 clear at half-time, and well in control of proceedings.
Kildare played with the breeze in the opening half and while they went ahead after just 40 seconds, Molly Price on target with a point, Mayo were the classier outfit.
Kildare did try hard and made a fight of it but as they dragged plenty of players behind the ball, in an attempt to nullify the Mayo attack, it means scoring chances at the other end of the field were sparse.
Mayo broke through for their opening goal with just over a minute on the watch, Rowe on target.
Mayo would lead from there all the way to the finish, but they only managed 1-3 from play in the opening half, with Staunton lofting over five pointed frees.
Kelly helped herself to a brace of points, with Aileen Gilroy also on target, while Byrne was Kildare’s stand-out performer.
Byrne scored three first-half points – two from play – with Louise Scully and Molly Price registering one each.
Kildare were within two points – 0-4 to 1-3 – midway through the first half but the gap grew before the break.
Mark Murnaghan’s charges did launch that mini-revival early in the second half but Mayo had plenty of gas in the tank.
Byrne’s yellow card in the 37th minute ended any faint hopes of a major shock and it was game over when Kelly was credited with a 44th-minute goal that appeared to go into the net off a back-tracking Kildare defender.
Mayo’s third goal arrived with three minutes left – Staunton waltzing past goalkeeper Mary Hulgraine before slotting the ball into an empty net.
Scorers for Mayo – C Staunton 1-11 (8f), S Rowe 1-4, G Kelly 1-3, O Conlon & A Gilroy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kildare – R Byrne 0-4 (2f), M Price 0-2, L Scully & N Dooley 0-1 each.
Mayo – Y Byrne; R Kearns, S Tierney, N O’Malley; F Doherty, O Conlon, M Corbett; M Carter, A Gilroy; F McHale, N Kelly, D Hughes; S Rowe, C Staunton, G Kelly.
Subs: C Whyte for Gilroy (49), A Dowling for Doherty (56), S Howley for Hughes (60+2), N Moran for O’Malley (60+2), M McGing for N Kelly (60+3).
Kildare – M Hulgraine; R Cribbin, R Mernagh, R Reidy; L Scully, A Curley, T Duggan; E Burke, M Curley; N Sinnott, R Byrne, M Price; G Clifford, E Dowling, O Kirwan.
Subs: A Horan for Burke (26), N Dooley for Dowling (h.t.), D McGinn for Kirwan (h.t.), Á Nash for Curley (54), S Doheny for Reidy (57).
Referee – S Joy (Kerry).
By Jackie Cahill at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe