The Dubliners were the better side for much of the first half but, after gifting City an equaliser, the home side ran riot and the defeat leaves Shels second from bottom, level on points with Bray Wanderers with the Wicklow side now having a game in hand.
First team coach Billy Woods took charge of affairs last night and was forced into making one change from the side that earned a great point at Sligo Rovers last week, with John Dunleavy coming in for the suspended Dan Murray.
Shels manager Johnny McDonnell made four changes to the side beaten 3-1 by Derry City, with Graham Gartland, Lee Murtagh, Darren Tinnelly and Derek Doyle coming in for Adam O’Connor, Sean Brennan and the suspended duo of Robert Bayly and Brian Gannon.
McDonnell’s side dominated the first quarter of the game and Darren Tinnelly’s rasping volley was inches over the bar in the 16th minute before they deservedly hit the front in the 23rd minute after a terrible error from Garry Buckley.
The City youngster left his back-pass dreadfully short of Mark McNulty, with Kelly taking advantage to slot the ball past the City keeper.
The home side were back in the game in the 32nd minute with a goal that must have infuriated McDonnell with his side playing so well.
There looked to be no danger when Graham Gartland headed the ball to his defensive partner Paul Andrews, but Andrews’ weak header back to keeper Lee Murphy went straight to Kilduff and the City striker scored from 12 yards.
Four minutes later, Kilduff got his second when Daryl Horgan’s cross was only half-cleared by Andrews and the City man smacked a tremendous volley into the top corner from the edge of the area.
A minute into the second half and it was 3-1 as City youngster Danny Morrissey made it nine goals in 11 matches as he took Shane Duggan’s through ball in his stride and expertly finished from a narrow angle after taking the ball around Murphy, which must have impressed the watching scout from Championship side Wigan Athletic.
Kelly reduced the deficit in the 65th minute when he finished well from inside the box to get his second of the game, but Kilduff pounced for his hat-trick six minutes later when he expertly headed home Danny Murphy’s pinpoint cross.
Andrews pulled another goal back for Shels eight minutes from time before Kilduff wrapped up the scoring a minute later to complete his four-goal haul on a remarkable night at the Cross.
CORK CITY: McNulty; Kavanagh, G Buckley, Dunleavy, Murphy; G Morrissey, Healy, Duggan, Horgan; D Morrissey, Kilduff (Lehane 90).
SHELBOURNE: Murphy; Cornwall, Gartland, Andrews, Doyle; Hanlon, Flynn, Hurley, Tinnelly (McGlynn 79); Murtagh (Brennan 61), Kelly.
Referee: R Rogers (Dublin).