Where in the opening round Cork succeeded in securing a point despite being a man down for the closing 27 minutes of action, yesterday, despite being a man up for the same period of time, they were unable to manage anything at all.
It’s funny how a red card can upset the team handed a numerical advantage and this strange irony was not lost on Cork manager Ronan McCarthy as he attempted to parse their first league defeat of the spring.
Three unanswered Cork points during a five-minute spell early in the second half, the last of which was immediately followed by Fergal Conway’s sending-off, had the home outfit back level on the scoreboard (1-5 to 0-8) and their opponents left to struggle home with just 14 bodies.
But much like Cork’s spirited response above in Enniskillen when Ruairi Deane walked for a second yellow on 43 minutes, Kildare were in no way put out by the loss of Conway and quickly retook the lead through Kevin Feely.
In a microcosm of their wastefulness throughout, Cork failed to capitalise on two scoring chances in the ensuing passages of play, with Kildare keeper Mark Donnellan repelling a Mattie Taylor goal drive and Luke Connolly’s subsequent 45 dropping shot.
Ben McCormack’s second point of the day doubled the visitors’ lead and from here, they held firm.
Sean White’s 58th-minute point ended a 16-minute barren spell for the hosts and represented their sole point from play during the period of time where they had a man extra on the field.
Three in a row from sub Neil Flynn, including an absolute beauty from in front of the North Stand, delivered Kildare their first league victory of 2019. And fully merited it was too.
As it transpired, the winners wound up with 13 men following a black card to Keith Cribbin deep in second-half stoppages.
Behind him on the slow walk to the line was Brian Hurley, the Cork sub receiving a straight red for an off-the-ball challenge.
The three-point loss means the Cork footballers remain without a competitive win at Páirc Uí Chaoimh since the 2014 Munster semi-final win over Tipp.
“The sending off, as it can sometimes, upset us more than it upset them,” said Cork boss Ronan McCarthy.
It took us a long time to reorganise when the sending off happened. It was similar to last week in that the sending off upset Fermanagh more than us. We never got ahead here so we were constantly chasing the game.
“As the game went on, we became more and more disjointed. They used their know-how to manage the game out. They countered at the right time and got some lovely scores.”
It says plenty about this rather limp Cork display that their three-point burst at the beginning of the second half — two of which were provided by the excellent Michael Hurley, the other arriving via a Luke Connolly mark — was their most productive spell of the game.
Backed by a slight wind in the opening half, Cork posted five scores and eight wides. Luke Connolly will have been most disappointed with two frees he failed to convert, while the shot selection of their forward unit as a whole had management itching with frustration.
“We showed great patience last week against Fermanagh where we had to break down a massed defence. Today, with the wind behind us in the first half, we took shots, I’m not saying they were crazy shots, but we could have worked it into better positions,” McCarthy continued.
Sometimes, we took shots from 40 metres when there was a runner coming off the shoulder and we could have taken the ball closer to goal.
"We never properly clicked up front. I think we had a potential 1-4 which came off the crossbar and post.”
Kildare led 1-4 to 0-5 at the break, the separating score a 12th-minute Kevin Feely penalty. The spot kick stemmed from a Ronan O’Toole foul on Jimmy Hyland, the Cork midfielder losing his footing under the dropping ball at the wrong moment.
Patience was central to Kildare’s first-half endeavours as the visitors were faced with a massively congested Cork rearguard.
Fionn Dowling, Hyland, and McCormack all landed decent scores, but it wasn’t until Conway’s dismissal that the enterprise and smart running of this Lilywhites attack were put on full display.
K Feely (1-1, 1-0 pen); N Flynn (0-3, 0-1 ‘45); A Tyrrell (0-2 frees), B McCormack (0-2 each); J Hyland, F Dowling (0-1 each).
M Hurley (0-5); L Connolly (0-2, 0-1 free); R Deane, M Collins (0-1 free), S White (0-1 each).
M Donnellan; M Dempsey, M O’Grady, D Hyland; J Murray, E Doyle, K Cribbin; K Feely, F Conway; C Hartley, F Dowling, D Slattery; A Tyrrell, B McCormack, J Hyland.
A Masterson for Hartley (HT); N Flynn for Dowling (45); C O’Donoghue for Murray (54); E O’Flaherty for Tyrrell (57); J Gibbons for Hyland (66).
M White; K O’Donovan, K Flahive, C Dennehy; J Loughrey, S Cronin, M Taylor; I Maguire, R O’Toole; T Clancy, E McSweeney, M Collins; L Connolly, R Deane, M Hurley.
P Kerrigan for McSweeney (HT); S White for R O’Toole (49); L O’Donovan for Loughrey (53); B Hurley for Connolly (56); C O’Hanlon for Clancy (62).
S Lonergan (Tipperary).