Cork beat Kildare to leave Lilywhites without a point in five games

Powerful second half performance from Cork as they moved toward mid-table in Division Two

National Football League Division Two: Cork 2-15 Kildare 3-9

In the Demolition Derby at the bottom of Division Two, Cork took the chequered flag. Kildare followed them across the line, their exhaust belching and bouncing off the tarmac. Back to the pit lane.

It was an extraordinary match. Playing with the breeze Cork trailed by five points with 23 minutes gone and led by seven half an hour later, everything about them transformed: their energy, their cohesion, their finishing. For the first time this season Cork looked like the team that were an indie hit on the fringe of last year’s championship. Their second win in successive weeks gives them some respite in mid-table now with a trip to Navan next.

For Kildare, the torture continues. The inescapable gravity of their results roots them to the foot of the table, with five defeats now and a visit from the league leaders Donegal to come in a fortnight. At times in the first half their counter attacking was too much for Cork and when Daniel Flynn struck their second goal 12 minutes before the break they looked to be in control, but their confidence is so fragile that it collapsed under pressure.


The game probably swung on Cork’s opening goal in first half stoppage time. Kevin Flahive intercepted a Kildare pass on the Cork 20-metre line and transferred the ball instantly to Matty Taylor, who thundered 60 metres down field. Tommy Walsh was riding shotgun, and with an overlap to conjure with, Taylor delayed the scoring pass until Walsh was just beyond the last defender. His finish was emphatic.

That goal reduced Kildare’s lead to a point at the break, 2-3 to 1-5, but it altered the whole mood of the game.

“I suppose the goal before half-time sucked the life out of us to a degree,” said Glenn Ryan, the Kildare manager. “It shouldn’t have because we were still in a good position, but after working so hard to be in a good position, probably a point up at half time wasn’t a reflection of how we were going. It was disappointing from our end but still we had an awful lot to fight for and I suppose just disappointed with the first 10 minutes of the second half.”

The impetus that Cork took into half-time fuelled their play in the third quarter. In the opening 15 minutes they outscored Kildare by 0-7 to 0-1 and all over the field they were top. Colm O’Callaghan was terrific at centrefield and Conor Corbett, whose promising young career has been blighted by injury, was elegant and destructive at the heart of the Cork forward line.

O’Callaghan and Corbett combined for Cork’s second goal, midway through the second half. O’Callaghan made a towering catch among a cluster of bodies and bounced off the ground to ignite a Cork attack. Corbett gathered the ball inside the Kildare 20 metre line and thrashed a shot to the roof of the net.

Cork’s seven-point lead only lasted a couple of minutes. Kevin O’Callaghan was fouled in the act of shooting for goal and the excellent Kevin Feely coolly dispatched the resultant penalty.

But Kildare’s third goal didn’t lead to anything. Cork recovered their composure and kicked the next three points, two of them by O’Callaghan. If they had been absolutely ruthless they should have scored another couple of goals too, as Kildare tried to push up and Cork picked them off with turnovers in the middle third.

Sean Powter brought his usual dynamism and directness when he was introduced midway through the second half and he was unlucky not to find the net when his shot from close range was blocked by Mark Donnellan, behind his back, bizzarely. Cork butchered another overlap too.

On another day such wastefulness would have been expensive but Kildare just did not have the wherewithal to punish them. They kicked the last four points of the game, two of them in stoppage time, but they didn’t threaten to score another goal. In the end Cork had eight different scorers and every score was kicked from play.

“Inside at half-time the mood was, ‘Look, we can’t continue on like this’,” said John Cleary, the Cork manager. “In fairness, they took the game by the scruff of the neck at the start of the second half and we got on top. We could have won by more, such was our dominance in the second half. We were much better in the second half.”

More to do.

Cork: C Kelly, K Flahive (0-1), D O’Mahony, T Walsh (1-0), L Fahy, R Maguire (0-1), M Taylor, I Maguire, C O’Callaghan (0-3), E McSweeney, M Cronin, B O’Driscoll (0-3), C Og Jones (0-3), C Corbett (1-2), B Hurley (0-2). Subs: S Meehan for Maguire 25 mins; R Deane for McSweeney h-t; S Powter for Cronin 52 mins; S Sherlock for Hurley 58 mins; D Buckley for Corbett 67 mins.

Kildare: M Donnellan, R Houlihan, M O’Grady, R Burke, P McDermott, E Doyle, J Sargent, A Masterson, K O’Callaghan, L Killian, A Beirne (1-0), S Farrell, K Feely (1-6, one pen, three frees), D Flynn (1-1), N Kelly (0-2, one free). Subs: B Gibbons for Masterson 42 mins; C Bolton for Killian 45 mins; S Ryan for Doyle 50 mins; S McCormack for Beirne 52 mins; B Byrne for Sargent 67 mins.

Referee: David Gough (Meath).

Denis Walsh

Denis Walsh

Denis Walsh is a sports writer with The Irish Times