IT has been a long time in coming since Kildare defeated Cork in the national league but when the victory arrived it was certainly a sweet one indeed, writes Tommy callaghan.
Allianz football League Division 1 Round 2
Following the drubbing The Lilies received last year in the All Ireland quarter final the Kildare fans, who travelled in big numbers, did so with some trepedation, despite that excellent showing against the All Ireland champions, Donegal, just seven days previously.
And to be fair when half time arrived with Cork leading by two points, one could not be very optimistic that that long losing sequence would finally come to an end.
The fact that did succeed was two fold. (1) was the sending off of Cork’s wing back, Damien Cahalane for a deliberate stamp on Niall Kelly in the 41st minute which saw referee Hickey brandish a straight red card and (2) the introduction of some badly needed fire power up front, in the form of Niall Kelly, Tomás O’Connor and Paddy Brophy.
Combine these together and it was Kildare who took full advantage of the extra men while the changes at half time had a huge bearing on the final result.
Having said that no Kildare supporter could have foreseen the eventual final score line after an opening half that saw Kildare under extreme pressure for long periods as Cork seemed to stroll through them at times. Not for the first time this Cork side failed to nail down their superiority and not for the first time they paid the penalty.
Colm O’Neill opened with a Cork free inside a minute and after Brian Flanagan intercepted a pass and was fouled, Johnny Doyle had the sides level after seven minutes.
The pitch was extremely sticky and heavy and with both sides playing an extra defender the scoring chances were minimal.
Then within two minutes Seanie Johnston, who had been well marshalled up to now got two chances and duly popped both over to push the visitors two clear after some fifteen minutes.
Cathal McNally had a squeak of a goal chance but his effort was blocked before Cork had their best spell.
A long ball in from Jamie O’Sullivan was caught by Colm O’Neill who looked to be getting away from his marker Peter Kelly but the Two Mile House man fouled and Donncha O’Connor converted the free and a minute later Colm O’Neill took full advantage of a poor kick out to level the scores.
Another minute and another Cork score but this time a goal, and again Kildare failed to get possession from a kick out, Paul Kerrigan hit a lovely ball over the top and Ciarán Sheehan gathered and give Shane Connolly no chance to make it 1-3 to 0-3 after 19 minutes.
Cork were now threatening big time; getting a lot of the breaking ball around the middle and it would have been no surprise had they scored again but to be fair the Kildare defence stood firm and hit back with a brilliant Pádraig O’Neill long range point followed by a Mikey Conway free after Johnny Doyle was held back to leave just a point separating the sides with 23 minutes on the clock.
A misplaced pass from Brian Flanagan had Cork back on the attack and a long ball in from Cadogan looked to be heading wide but was knocked backed across the square but Shane Connolly reacted decisively to clear.
Colm O’Neill stretched the lead from a placed ball after a high challenge from Mikey Conway in a game lacking any real urgency with both sides standing off one other.
Mikey Conway hit a brilliant point to reduce the lead after good work from Eoghan O’Flaherty and Johnny Doyle.
Kildare carved out a great goal chance that saw Cathal McNally clear on goal with only the keeper to beat but the Johnstownbridge hit a poor shot failing even to find the target.
Cork responded with a fine Paul Kerrigan point from play as he slipped inside Hugh McGrillen to leave the half time score reading Cork 1-5 Kildare 0-6.
Things looked extremely dodgy for The Lilies at this stage, they were lethargic, loose around the middle and had to work extremely hard for every one of their opening half six points.
Kieran McGeeney and his management side moved swiftly at the break introducing Niall Kelly and Tomás O’Connor and the former was immediately involved but it was still Cork who opened best with an Aidan Walsh (introduced at the break) point that stretched the lead before Daniel Flynn, playing a very deep role up to this point, got forward to leave just two separating the sides again.
On 42 minutes Cork were hit a major blow when wing back Damien Cahalane was show red for a stamp on Niall Kelly but it was still Cork who controlled the game and went further ahead with a lovely Donncha O’Connor point from a very acute angle down the right wing.
Brian Flanagan was lucky when another miss-placed pass failed to be capitalised on by Cork.
A great ball in from Niall Kelly had Tomás O’Connor in with a goal chance but the effort was smothered and cleared.
Mikey Conway hit another long range beauty to reduce the deficit with Niall Kelly again heavily involved and the same player had just one between them following a foul on Johnny Doyle with some 15 minutes remaining.
Cork, however again hit back with points from Donncha O’Connor and John O’Rourke. Back came The Lilies with Peter Kelly galloping forward, off loading to Pádraig O’Neill who knocked over his second of the game.
Kildare were now getting a bit of a foothold around the middle with O’Neill and Gary White working extremely hard. Paddy Brophy gained possession, soloed before his attempted kick was partly blocked. Tomás O’Connor gathered brilliantly turned to his right and set up Niall Kelly. The Athy youngster did the rest with a brilliant finish.
The Lilies were now in the driving seat, a point ahead with ten minutes remaining and soon after the points were all but secured. Tomás O’Connor did well to gain possession out wide on the right, he muscled his way past Eoin O’Mahony, spotted Pádraig O’Neill on the burst, off loaded. The St. Laurence’s man cut inside and sent a great pass to Paddy Brophy who duly found the net.
Game, set and match on a score line of Kildare 2-10 Cork 1-9.
A hard earned win but deserved on a much improved second half display but despite making it two wins from two, there is still massive room for improvement but four points in the bag against Donegal and Cork certainly sends out a clear warning that this Kildare side are one not to be taken lightly.
Kildare, Mikey Conway 0-4 (2 frees), Niall Kelly 1-0, Paddy Brophy 1-0, Pádraig O’Neill 0-2, Seanie Johnston 0-2, Johnny Doyle 0-1 (free), Daniel Flynn 0-1.
Cork, Ciarán Sheehan 1-0, Colm O’Neill 0-3 (2 frees), Donncha O’Connor 0-3 (2 frees), Paul Kerrigan 0-1, John O’Rourke, Alan O’Connor 0-1.
Shane Connolly; Ollie Lyons, Mick Foley, Hugh McGrillen; Emmet Bolton, Mikey Conway, Peter Kelly; Gary White cpt., Pádraig O’Neill; Brian Flanagan, Cathal McNally, Daniel Flynn; Seanie Johnston, Eoghan O’Flaherty, Johnny Doyle. Subs: Niall Kelly for Cathal McNally (half time); Tomás O’Connor for Eoghan O’Flaherty (half time); Eoin Doyle for Olli Lyons (50 minute); Morgan O’Flaherty for Brian Flanagan (54 minute); Paddy Brophy for Seanie Johnston (58 minute).
Ken O’Halloran; Eoin Cadogan, Eoin O’Mahony, Michael Shields; Daniel Cahalane, Tom Clancy, Jamie O’Sullivan; Ger Canty, Aidan Walsh; Fintan Goold, John O’Rourke, Paul Kerrigan; Colm O’Neill, Donncha O’Connor, Ciarán Sheehan. Subs: Alan O’Connor for Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty) half time; Thomas Clancy (Fermoy) for Ciarán Sheehan (54 minute); Paudie Kissane for Aidan Walsh (62 minute).
Rory Hickey, Clare.