A statement win from Kildare to begin their 2021 season, Jack O’Connor’s charges producing a crisp and clinical second-half showing to defeat Cork in this Division 2 League fixture.
Ahead by 0-7 to 0-6 at the break, Kildare took the game beyond Cork’s reach with goals on 50 and 60 minutes to cross the finish line with four to spare. It could have been double that but for four unanswered Cork points from the 69th minute on.
Cork’s approach unravelled as the second-half wore on, their play pockmarked by poor decision-making and an endless catalogue of lateral passes at the outer barrier of Kildare’s defensive moat.
In the end, Cork managed only two second-half points from play.
Kildare's Neil Flynn (‘45) and Paul Cribbin had slotted two on the bounce to nudge the winners three clear - 0-11 to 0-8 - when half-back Kevin Flynn ghosted forward for the opening goal on 50 minutes.
It was a score from which Cork never recovered, but one has to ponder what the outcome might have been had Ian Maguire, in the subsequent action, palmed the ball under rather than over the crossbar when meeting a Ruairi Deane pass.
As it was, Cork wouldn’t score again for another quarter of an hour, by which stage Kildare had grown their advantage to eight thanks to a well-taken Jimmy Hyland goal.
Cork finished with 14, sub Brian Hartnett sent off for an off the ball incident late on.
In a first-half full of rustiness, Kildare hit the front for the first time in the third minute of stoppage time when sub Neil Flynn - he replaced the injured Daniel Flynn on 29 minutes - converted a difficult free from distance.
Flynn’s placed ball effort left the interval scoreline reading 0-7 to 0-6 in the Lilywhites favour, a scoreline not exactly reflecting Cork’s huge possession share and the greater number of chances created by Ronan McCarthy’s side.
Both sides registered six first-half wides, but Cork were ahead in the shots dropped short department, while they also coughed up possession on occasion inside the Kildare scoring zone. Their opponents, having conceded five goals in their last competitive outing, were in no mood for a repeat of such and funnelled players back in significant numbers to close off all avenues eyed up by men in red.
Beyond the opening seven minutes, during which Cork hurried into a three-point lead, last year’s beaten Munster finalists were shunted backwards by the white wall more often than they penetrated it.
The period which would have most frustrated the Cork management in the first-half came directly before the water break. Ahead by 0-4 to 0-2, the 2020 Division 3 winners squandered three scoring chances in quick succession as Cathail O’Mahony and Brian Hurley both sent wide scorable frees, while Mattie Taylor’s attempt dropped short.
Daniel Flynn kicked his second from play and Kildare’s third overall thereafter to leave the minimum between the sides at the water break. Ian Maguire landed Cork’s first in 13 minutes upon the resumption of play, but they were outscored 0-4 to 0-1 between there and Maurice Deegan’s half-time whistle. Luke Flynn, Darragh Kirwan, Paul Cribbin and the aforementioned Neil Flynn the providers to nudge Kildare in front.
There they would remain.