The bright side of sport: Kildare deserve more praise after beating Cork

Three games were played at Thurles last weekend, two of those set the talking points for the week and one county led the discussion, writes Steve Neville.

The bright side of sport: Kildare deserve more praise after beating Cork

Yes, the Cork meltdown in hurling and football has led to a multitude of questions about the hunger of the Rebel players, management and the under-age section.

And fair enough. It has been a long time since a Championship went by without seeing either Cork team playing in Croke Park.

On Sunday the hurlers were dismantled with ease by a Galway team who hit more wides than points scored by Cork, surprisingly nine from Joe Canning.

Galway’s Jonathan Glynn put in the performance of the day and his display on the pitch and in the post-match interview made sure people knew that Galway had been frustrated with being labelled a one forward team.

Cork were simply not good enough.

But it is the footballers who lead the conversation today. No, not those ones.

The Cork footballers were beaten by a determined and clever Kildare team. Yet no one seems to be talking about Kildare.

The fact is that Cork were beaten by a team that was up for the fight from the off.

Some will say Cork were fatigued and emotionally drained from the Munster final drama. That doesn’t wash for me. Cork are a Division 1 team, supposedly one of the top six in the country, who should easily be coming out on top against a side heading for Division 3.

Kildare played with a determination and drive that should be the lead story taken from the game last Saturday, not the implosion of the opposition.

Two men in particular deserve (and have received in small part) praise for their performances for Kildare and they are Niall Kelly and Paul Cribbin. Both stepped up to the plate and were rewarded justly.

Cribbin has a work ethic and engine that is enviable.

Named man of the match, he epitomised the Kildare team with his performance. It was an all action display in which he added two points, one long range beauty that any player would be proud of.

He fielded the ball superbly claiming four kick outs, ran with power and played smart football, playing the ball off to players in better positions instead of hitting hopeless shots at goal.

Niall Kelly picked up 1-4 from a lacklustre Cork defence. Kelly made a good Cork defence look terrible with his movement. He was always free, picking up pass after pass, his speed and accuracy causing all kinds of trouble.

He was always on hand kicking points or playing people into space. For the most part he left defenders chasing shadows and he took his goal with calm and collected ease.

Kildare ran hard and fast at the Cork defence and if they keep that up they could pose a threat come the quarter finals.

Jason Ryan should take a lot of credit for Kildare’s game plan. Pace, power and hand passing - one particular point from Alan Smith in the second half captured this.

Padraig O’Neill took possession in his own half and his pace and support - he took ball three times in the build up, going forward every time - tore Cork apart as Smith finished the six hand pass move with a brilliant score.

Whatever people say about hand passing in modern football, Kildare used it as a weapon and wielded it against Cork.

Giant killing is often celebrated in the FA Cup across the water. And we should celebrate it with Kildare. Just because Cork were poor, it doesn’t mean Kildare weren’t very, very good.

Kildare will look forward to a Quarter Final against Kerry with nothing to lose. And that makes them an exciting proposition.

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