Cork 2-19 Kildare 0-12
Cork produced a power-packed second-half performance to put 14-man Kildare to the sword in hugely impressive fashion at Croke Park.
Conor Counihan’s men bagged two first half goals to open up an early lead but Kildare showed their character fight back and trail by just three points, 2-5 to 0-8 at the interval.
The Lilywhites had plenty of possession at the beginning of the second half but shot two bad wides.
Cork, by contrast, were more clinical and they had four points on the board when Kildare had wing-back, Eoin Doyle sent off for a second bookable offence in the 53rd minute.
It was a duck shoot from that juncture as Kildare, by virtue of chasing the game, left a lot of space in their own half and Cork utilised their blend of power and pace ruthlessly to cement their place in the final four.
In the process, the Rebels also placed themselves very firmly at the top of the market to win the All-Ireland, as they became the first team to inflict such a hiding on Kildare in championship action under Kieran McGeeney.
McGeeney’s men actually got off to a very good start, with a foul on Tomás O’Connor after 26 seconds being pointed by Mikey Conway. Rob Kelly followed up soon after, following an enterprising forward venture by Eoin Doyle.
Kelly and Mick Foley were having little impact around the middle though and Cork were soon back on terms, thanks to Paudie Kissane’s excellent score and a Colm O’Neill free.
The Rebels had gone two points clear when they struck for a very fortunate goal in the 15th minute.
Paul Kerrigan went on a strong run through the middle after a quick take of a contentious free. He evaded the attentions of Doyle to unleash a shot that was saved by Shane Connolly. The ball ricocheted off the retreating Kildare defender into the net.
Three minutes later, Kildare were punished for giving the ball away and O’Neill flicked it neatly to Donncha O’Connor. The Ballydesmond man hand-passed back across the small parallelogram to give O’Neill the simplest of tasks of finishing to the net.
At that stage, with an eight-point lead, it was looking very good for Cork but Kildare showed plenty of intestinal fortitude to drag themselves back into proceedings. They hit five points on the trot, including two from Alan Smith and two inspirational efforts by Johnny Doyle and Hugh McGrillen, to put their fans in great heart at half time.
The All Whites started the second period well too, with Darryl Flynn continuing to have a positive effect after his introduction.
Counihan was moved to make his own switches, with Alan O’Connor being called ashore, after Ciarán Sheehan having been substituted just before the break.
Critically though, Alan Smith and Flynn missed excellent opportunities to eat further into Cork’s lead and they were made to pay as another substitute, Daniel Goulding, Donncha O’Connor (two) and Walsh raised white flags.
Connolly made a breathtaking save from Kerrigan in that period and when Doyle was shown the red card, it was curtains for Kildare.
They never stopped trying but this was a battle they were never going to win. Walsh, Pearse O’Neill, Kerrigan, Kissane and Goulding were amongst those to put more pain on Kildare and send Cork sailing through to the final four.
Cork: C O’Neill 1-4(0-2fs); D O’Connor 0-4(2 45s, 1f); A Walsh 0-3(1f); E Doyle 1-0(og); P Kissane, D Goulding, P Kerrigan, P O’Neill 0-2 each
Kildare: A Smith 0-4(1f); J Doyle 0-3(1f); H McGrillen, R Kelly, E O’Flaherty(f), M Conway(f), D Earley 0-1 each
Cork: A Quirke; R Carey, E Cadogan, M Shields; P Kissane, N O’Leary, G Canty; A O’Connor, A Walsh; F Goold, C Sheehan, P Kerrigan; C O’Neill, N Murphy, D O’Connor. Subs: P Kelly for Sheehan (34); P O’Neill for A O’Connor (39); D Goulding for Murphy (42); J O’Sullivan for Carey (47); D O’Sullivan for Canty (62)
Kildare: S Connolly; P Kelly, H McGrillen, O Lyons; E Bolton, M O’Flaherty, E Doyle; M Foley, R Kelly; E O’Flaherty, M Conway, J Doyle; A Smith, T O’Connor, J Kavanagh. Subs: D Flynn for R Kelly (20); P O’Neill for Foley (46); F Dowling for Conway (46); S Johnston for E O’Flaherty (50); D Earley for O’Connor (57); H Lynch for Earley blood (70)
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)