With 13 minutes of normal time remaining, they found themselves just two points in arrears having faced the wind in the first-half after which they trailed by five, 0-8 to 0-3.
That they were so close to Kildare in the final quarter was flattering in light of the goal opportunities the home side had and the freakish nature of Luke Connolly’s 55th minute goal, which made it 1-9 to 1-6.
It had come seconds after Tom Clancy made a top drawer save from man-of-the-match Ben McCormack who had Ryan Price beaten only for the Cork full-back to deny him.
Cork immediately worked the ball down the field and Connolly’s speculative shot beat Mark Donnellan who had struggled with Ian Maguire for company in the square.
What might have been a nine-point deficit became two when substitute Barry O’Driscoll fired over a point two minutes after Connolly’s goal.
But those scores only served to re-energise Kildare who outscored Cork five points to one in the closing stages. Donnellan did have to make a save from Connolly and it was the Lilywhites who saw out the game with more conviction.
Their goal from McCormack in the 51st minute came seven minutes after what seemed to be an impressive solo goal from Daniel Flynn.
However, it was voided by referee Cormac Reilly when linesman Maurice Deegan informed him Flynn had bounced the ball twice in succession, a decision which “shocked” Kildare’s Cian O’Neill.
“I’d say it’s a first – especially in a game of this magnitude. I just never heard that a score can be brought back and over-ruled.”
It didn’t deter Kildare, all the same, and Cork were left to regret another game not only where they struggled at restarts but their shooting left a lot to be desired.
“Like against Galway last weekend, we had missed chances,” shrugged selector Eoin O’Neill.
“We had five from 15 in the second-half. You can’t win games like that and that’s the bottom line of it. The lads know that and we’ll review that. Five from 15, when you have the wind that’s just not good enough. That’s the target now – we have to start improving and improving fast.”
For Cork to have come from Newbridge with something would have been an injustice. They went 20 minutes without troubling the scoreboard in the first-half and it wasn’t until Paul Kerrigan split the posts in the 41st minute they registered their first score from play.
After back-to-back Division 2 wins, Kildare manager O’Neill could be satisfied his team have put last month’s O’Byrne Cup semi-final defeat to Dublin’s third team behind them.
“It’s a very important win for us because I suppose there is a lot of doubt about this group of players, about the team, certainly not from within but from outside the set-up which is just noise to us. But it’s inevitable that it creeps in.
“I heard a quote this week Kildare don’t have a great record in St Conleth’s Park, which, to me, is quite shocking considering it’s our home ground. So it was important to put two back-to-back, whether it was in Newbridge or not, just to put two performances back-to-back.
“I thought the lads worked incredibly hard to make that happen, particularly in the second half. Because if it didn’t work for us today it would have been the usual, ‘ah yeah, Kildare were very good last week and now they are back to themselves this week.’
For Kildare, it was about making the most of the breeze in the first half.
For Cork, it was about staying in touch and they just about did although Maguire had a goal chance close to the break but sent his shot off-target before he inadvertently set up Connolly, who couldn’t make contact in front of a beckoning net.
It didn’t help Cork Sean Powter and Mark Collins were off-the-boil and Colm O’Neill wasn’t near as effective as he was in Salthill. Eoin O’Neill felt Kildare’s eagerness put them on the back-foot at times.
“We played it a bit too lateral and a bit too slow and they got a couple of scores and in the second half when we got the break of a goal they raised it again. It took us our all to get back into it but fair play to them they were very sharp.”
There is some consolation for Cork in that all eight teams have dropped points but O’Neill accepts a win is now overdue.
“We have Fermanagh in two weeks time and that is going to be a tough one. I said from the outset that teams are going to take points off others in this league and that’s the way it’s turning out to be.”
B. McCormack (1-2); N. Flynn (0-5, 3 frees); K. Feely, P. Cribbin (0-2 each); D. Flynn, T. Moolick, C. Healy (free) (0-1 each).
L. Connolly (1-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45); C. O’Neill (free), P. Kerrigan, A. Walsh, Tomás Clancy, Barry O’Driscoll (0-1 each).
M. Donnellan; O. Lyons, M. O’Grady, D. Hyland; J. Byrne, E. Doyle (c), K. Cribbin; K. Feely, T. Moolick; F. Conway, N. Kelly, P. Cribbin; N. Flynn, D. Flynn, B. McCormack.
C. McNally for T. Moolick (inj 59); C. Healy for F. Conway (64); D. Slattery for B. McCormack (67); P. Kelly for N. Kelly (70); S. Ryan for K. Feely (black, 70+2); C. Hartley for N. Flynn (70+4). Black card: K. Cribbin (70+5, not replaced).
R. Price; J. McLoughlin, Tom Clancy (Clonakilty), K. Crowley; Tomás Clancy (Fermoy), J. Loughrey, C. Dorman; A. Walsh, I. Maguire; M. Collins, S. Powter, R. Deane; P. Kerrigan (c), L. Connolly, C. O’Neill.
J. O’Rourke for S. Powter (h-t); Barry O’Driscoll for C. Dorman (51); D. O’Connor for M. Collins (52); J. Mullins for K. Crowley (54); D. Hodnett for I. Maguire (60); N. Coakley for C. O’Neill (63).
J. O’Rourke (70, not replaced).
C. Reilly (Meath).
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