Wednesday 20 September 2017

Lilies finally bloom against a top side as lethargic Cork bow out with a whimper

Kildare 1-21 Cork 1-13

Niall Kelly watches as his shot finds the target for Kildare’s first goal against Cork last night
Niall Kelly watches as his shot finds the target for Kildare’s first goal against Cork last night

Declan Rooney

Niall Kelly was inspirational as Kildare claimed their first championship win over Cork since 1928 and helped his side into the All-Ireland quarter-final against Kerry next Sunday.

A pancake-flat Cork never looked like reaching the last eight and failed to make the quarter-final for the first time since 2004.

Kelly hit the crucial goal four minutes into the second half but even before that Cork looked dead an buried, while the sending off of Kevin O'Driscoll 16 minutes from time only eased Kildare's progress.

Five years have now passed since the Rebels were last crowned All-Ireland champions; with their defeat against Kerry in the Munster final replay followed by this below-par reply a week later, they have exited the championship with a whimper.

A first-minute booking for Emmet Bolton left the Kildare half-back walking a disciplinary tightrope for the rest of the game - he fell off it three minutes from time - and it also allowed Colm O'Neill to kick Cork into the lead from the free.

It was predicted that Kildare would struggle against classy Division 1 opponents, like they did in the Leinster semi-final against Dublin, but Jason Ryan's troops recovered from that setback and raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.

Once again Kelly started in the full-forward line and the Athy man repeatedly pierced most holes in the Cork defence. He was initially picked up by Stephen Cronin before Michael Shiels was handed the duty after Kelly had helped himself to two early scores.

Kildare's third point - an Eoghan O'Flaherty free - arrived off the back of a pull-down by James Loughrey on Cathal McNally, and the former Antrim defender was black-carded.

Loughrey's departure saw Brian O'Driscoll introduced - he was initially pulled from the starting line-up due to injury - but after Donncha O'Connor and O'Neill levelled matters with two points in a minute, Cork were dealt a huge blow when Alan O'Connor was forced form the field with a suspected cruciate ligament injury after 21 minutes.

O'Neill immediately kicked a free to put Cork 0-4 to 0-3 up, but the loss of their abrasive midfielder definitely impacted the Rebels as Kildare took control around the middle and began to time their runs well from deep.

A free from O'Flaherty got Kildare back level and he edged them ahead in the 27th minute with his third free of the half. Goalkeeper Mark Donnellan drilled over a 45 soon after for the rampant Lilywhites, before Kelly kicked the best score of the half in the 31st minute as he linked with McNally and Paul Cribbin to make it 0-7 to 0-4.

Paul Kerrigan stopped the run of four consecutive points from Kildare with an excellent score from the right wing, but the Lilies continued to be patient in the build-up and accurate with their kick-passing into the full-forward line and the points continued to flow.

They kicked four more on the trot to finish the half, and all but one came from play - including the last score of the half - which arrived in the eighth minute of added-time from Ollie Lyons on a powerful run from deep.

The loss of skipper Eamonn Callaghan with a dislocated shoulder just before half-time was a blow for Kildare, but they would have been delighted with the 0-11 to 0-5 lead they had carved out for themselves - albeit with the aid of a slight wind.

Cork manager Brian Cuthbert went for broke at the break and introduced Brian Hurley at full-forward - and he was immediately involved in the action and laid on a point for Mark Collins.

The injuries continued to flow as Mick O'Grady became the third stretcher passenger in the 38th minute, but his replacement Peter Kelly was straight up to speed and was twice involved in the build-up to Kelly's goal a minute after his arrival.

O'Connor slotted a 45 four minutes later, but Kildare - with the sniff of an upset in the air - went on to kick six of the next seven points to take a 1-17 to 0-8 lead.

Kevin O'Driscoll's red card for Cork was followed by an O'Neill goal from a free 13 minutes from time, but a pair of scores from Padraig Fogarty in the closing minutes finished the job, despite Bolton seeing red in the 67th minute.

Scorers - Kildare: N Kelly 1-4, E Flaherty 0-5 (5f), P Fogarty 0-3 (1f), A Smith, P Cribbin, M Donnellan 0-2 (2'45), O Lyons, P O'Neill, C McNally 0-1. Cork: C O'Neill 1-4 (1-2f), D O'Connor 0-5 (3f), M Collins, P Kerrigan, B Hurley, Brian O'Driscoll 0-1.

Kildare: M Donnellan; O Lyons, C Fitzpatrick, M O'Grady; K Murnaghan, E Doyle, E Bolton; T Moolick, P Cribbin; C McNally, E O'Flaherty, P O'Neill; N Kelly, A Smith, E Callaghan. Subs: P Fogarty for Callaghan (35+4), P Kelly for O'Grady (38), M Sherry for O'Flaherty (51 BC), F Conway for McNally (57), M Conway for Kelly (64), G White for Smith (71).

Cork: K O'Halloran; J O'Sullivan, M Shields, S Cronin; C Dorman, J Loughrey, Barry O'Driscoll; A O'Connor, E Cadogan; C O'Driscoll, M Collins, K O'Driscoll; C O'Neill, D O'Connor, P Kerrigan. Subs: Brian O'Driscoll for Loughrey (12 BC), F Goold for A O'Connor (20), T Clancy for Cronin (43), J O'Rourke for Dorman (48), D Og Hodnett for O'Sullivan (66).

Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).

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