NO DOUBT Kildare will feel they should have won this second round game in the Allianz National Football League in Newbridge yesterday because they were the more consistent team overall.
However, Cork deserved to draw after wiping out a four-point deficit in the last seven minutes, with their last two scores coming in injury time from late substitutes Paul Kerrigan and Kevin O’Sullivan.
Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney was none too pleased about a controversial umpiring decision which presented the visitors with a 57th minute 45 that was expertly put over by Donncha O’Connor. But, he was philosophical afterwards: “You get calls like these. How you react to them is also part of how you progress mentally. You have to go through those things and respond in the right manner.’’
The end result is that after beating Laois in their first outing, they now have the same number of points as they finished in Division One with last year.
While acknowledging that it was their late show of character that earned them the share of the points, Cork manager Conor Counihan readily acknowledged that they were fortunate to do so. “We would certainly be disappointed with a lot of aspects of our performance,’’ he stated. “In fairness to Kieran, Kildare are much more organised. We started the game well. We had a good platform to build on but we just lost our way.’’
Cork did look the more promising team in the early stages, going two points clear inside the opening six minutes. They were more solid at the back and more creative going forward. In contrast, Kildare weren’t very good at getting good ball in to their attack, even though wing-backs Brian Flanagan (especially) and Michael Conway were prominent all through.
While Kildare’s spirited play had them level twice, in the 12th and 15th minutes — following particularly good scores from centre-forward Padraig O’Neill and midfielder Dermot Earley — Cork were still exerting control.
They were very strong on the break, with team captain Graham Canty giving good leadership at centre-back and Fintan Goold penetrating at centre-forward (getting good support from newcomer Paddy Kelly on his left). Additionally, Michael Cussen threatened at the edge of the square in spite of the tenacity of full-back Padraig O’Neill.
What it meant was that Cork were leading 0-6 to 0-3 after 23 minutes. However, their position deteriorated rapidly in the face of much more methodical play from Kildare, which owed much to a strong grip at midfield and, more significantly, improved defending to which Flanagan and Conway made important contributions.
In real terms, their finishing was the main difference. Predictably, team captain Johnny Doyle, starting in the left corner and finishing in the centre, was to the forefront. And, while he might not have managed a score, right half-forward Eamonn Callaghan put in a Trojan effort and won a lot of good ball.
Doyle had them level with a powerful score from the left corner in the 31st minute and he hit two more scores to see them go in 0-8 to 0-6 in front at half time.
Kildare went close to getting a goal two minutes after the resumption, when James Kavanagh had a shot blocked down at the edge of the square by Pearse O’Neill. And almost immediately afterwards, Goold promised one for Cork but he blazed the ball over the bar after a sweeping move.
Notably, Kildare failed to maintain their advantage around midfield, with Cork more lively at half back once Ger Spillane found his form. This followed the forced departure of Canty after 11 minutes with a hamstring problem and his replacement, Paudie Kissane was another to make an impact, along with Anthony Lynch and O’Leary.
Nevertheless, while the teams looked more evenly balanced in general play, Kildare looked more likely to win because they were able to add enough scores to protect their lead.
They were leading 0-13 to 0-9 with 12 minutes remaining and while staying competitive, they were frustrated by some wasted chances. In contrast, Cork were to make the most of their opportunities, helped by the addition of Paul Kerrigan and Paul Flynn to the half-forward line.
The margin was down to two points in the 68th minute and Cork had the momentum with them.
After Kerrigan pointed, Kissane won a crucial free at midfield from the kick-out and the subsequent attack yielded the equaliser through the confident Kevin O’Sullivan.
* A minute’s silence was observed in memory of Cork hurling manager Gerald McCarthy’s mother.
Scorers for Kildare J Doyle, 0-5 (3f); J Kavanagh 0-4; P O’Neill 0-2; D Earley, M Conway and R Sweeney 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: F Goold 0-4; D O’Connor 0-3 (2‘45’s); K O’Sullivan, P Kerrigan, D Goulding, G Canty, C McCarthy, A O’Connor and N O’Leary 0-1 each.
KILDARE: S McCormack; D Brennan, K O’Neill, H McGrillen; B Flanagan, M Foley, M Conway; D Flynn, D Earley; E Callaghan, P O’Neill, J Kavanagh; K Donnelly, R Sweeney, J Doyle (capt).
Subs: A Smith for Donnelly, 26; E O’Flaherty for O’Neill, carded, 61; M O’Flaherty for Conway, 69.
CORK: A Quirke; A Lynch, R Carey, J Miskella; N O’Leary, G Canty (capt), G Spillane; A O’Connor, P O’Neill; C McCarthy, F Goold, P Kelly; D Goulding, M Cussen, D O’Connor.
Subs: P Kissane for Canty, 46; P Kerrigan for McCarthy, P Flynn for Kelly, both 53; J Hayes for O’Neill, 58; K O’Sullivan for Goulding, 65.
Referee: D Fahy (Longford).
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