A first half Kevin Feely penalty was the difference as Kildare battled to a three point win over Cork in the second round of the Allianz Football League at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Neil Flynn was back from suspension and he had a huge impact in kicking three second half points off the bench which played no small part in the victory at the end of a poor contest where defences dominated.
Feely’s goal gave Kildare an early advantage but they could never really build on it and with Fergal Conway seeing red early in the second half they looked in trouble but to their credit they showed great character to dig out the result.
Michael Hurley scored five points from play for an ultra defensive Cork team but it was a lone furrow for him at times as there was little in support there to aid him.
The pitch was one of the main talking points of the game with mucky patches as well as potholes seen throughout the Pairc Ui Chaoimh surface and it certainly didn’t aid Cork early on with Tom Clancy in a scoreable position but after bouncing the ball it spun away from him and away to safety.
The hosts did soon take the upper hand though with a clearance from Mark Dempsey going astray and directly to Michael Hurley and the corner forward made no mistake in splitting the posts.
A series of messy incidents then broke out with Kevin Feely and Ian Maguire grappling on the floor but when it had all settled down, Kildare kicked the equaliser with Fionn Dowling finding the target on the back of a Keith Cribbin incisive pass.
Cork responded with Luke Connolly kicking a free from distance just minutes after he had missed an easier opportunity but the lead didn’t last long as Kildare soon struck for goal.
Fergal Conway had an attempted shot blocked down but luckily the ball rebounded into Jimmy Hyland’s path and after a Cork defender slipped, the Ballyteague man was brought down by Stephen Cronin and a penalty was duly awarded for which Kevin Feely expertly tucked away.
The Rebels hit back with Ruairi Deane kicking a score from a well taken mark on the back of a Michael Hurley effort.
Despite the game being level at that stage Kildare were defending relatively well with Cork bringing huge numbers back and they soon surged ahead with Adam Tyrrell landing a difficult looking free before the advantage was extended with Jimmy Hyland landing a free from a mark while Ben McCormack was also on the ball with a lovely left footed effort after cutting in from the wing.
Michael Hurley was proving to be Cork’s biggest threat and he landed his third point of the half to stem the Kildare flow but they were wasteful on a whole as they missed four scoreable frees throughout the first period.
The last few minutes of the half were then spent with Cian O’Neill’s men struggling to break down their defensive opposition and they had to be content with a 1-4 to 0-5 lead at the break.
Kildare brought in Aaron Masterson for Conor Hartley at the break but it was his Moorefield clubmate Adam Tyrell that extended the lead with an opening minute free.
Connolly replied in kind with a free and Cork soon made it 1-5 to 0-8 with danger man Hurley landing two beautiful scores from play after basic mistakes in the Lillywhite defence.
Things got even worse for Kildare minutes later with referee Sean Lonergan adjudging Fergal Conway to have fouled a man off the ball and with the Celbridge man already booked the black card meant he duly got red and Kildare were down to 14 men.
While the red card originally looked like it would be fatal with Jimmy Hyland missing a routine looking free, Cian O’Neill’s men soon settled down with a Kevin Feely point pushing them back in front.
It’s a lead Kildare wouldn’t relinquish to the end but Mark Donnellan’s goal laid a charm life at stages as wing back Matthew Taylor had a shot well saved by the Maynooth man before Ruairi Deane broke the line at pace but the fingertips of Donnellan again proved crucial as he tipped the shot onto the bar and away to safety.
Substitute Sean White kicked a vital score for Cork but the introduction of Neil Flynn proved invaluable as he kicked three crucial points on the back of an excellent effort on the turn from McCormack.
Keith Cribbin had a chance for a late goal but his shot was pushed away by Mark White and although a Mark Collins free got the deficit back to three the Kildare defence which was expertly marshalled by Eoin Doyle stood tall under a bit of late pressure.
Incidentally Cork’s Brian Hurley got a straight red card for a strike on Neil Flynn in the last play of the game but it was all academic as Kildare hung on to secure a vital victory.
Kildare: Mark Donnellan; Mark Dempsey, Mick O’Grady, David Hyland, James Murray, Eoin Doyle, Keith Cribbin, Kevin Feely 1-1, Fergal Conway, Conor Hartley, Fionn Dowling 0-1, Adam Tyrrell 0-2 (0-2f), David Slattery, Ben McCormack 0-2, Jimmy Hyland 0-1 (0-1mf)
Subs used: Aaron Masterson for Hartley h-t, Neil Flynn 0-3 (0-1 45) for Dowling 44 mins, Cian O’Donoghue for Murray 54 mins, Eoghan O’Flaherty for Tyrrell 57 mins, Jason Gibbons for Hyland 65 mins.
Cork: Mark White; Kevin O’Donovan, Kevin Flahive, Conor Dennehy, James Loughrey, Stephen Cronin, Matthew Taylor, Ian Maguire, Ronan O’Toole, Tom Clancy, Eoghan McSweeney, Mark Collins 0-1 (0-1f), Michael Hurley 0-5, Ruairi Deane 0-1 ( 0-1mf), Luke Connolly 0-2 ( 0-2fs).
Subs used: Paul Kerrigan for McSweeney h-t, Sean White 0-1 for O’Toole 47 mins, Liam O’Donovan for Loughrey 54 mins, Brian Hurley for Connolly 55 mins, Cillian O’Hanlon for Clancy 61 mins.
Ref: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)
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