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Cork wilt in the face of onslaught by brilliant Lilywhites

Niall Kelly scored 1-4 for Kildare in their stunning Qualifier victory over Cork on Saturday  

All-Ireland SFC Qualifying round 4A: Cork 1-13 Kildare 1-21

THIS was, quite simply, a brilliant performance from Kildare, who dominated Cork from start to finish. Their reward is a quarter-final meeting with All-Ireland champions Kerry.

Cork were actually quicker out of the blocks than the Lilywhites as Colm O’Neill pointed a free inside the first minute. But Kildare quickly asserted themselves and rattled off the next three, with two of those coming from the left and right boots of the superb Niall Kelly, who finished with 1-4.

Although Cork did manage three points on the spin themselves in the opening period, that was as good as it got for the Rebels, who had been red-hot favourites to progress.

At half-time, Kildare were six up, 0-11 to 0-5, having dominated possession and exhibited a ravenous appetite for work. 

Even though Cork packed their defence, they struggled badly to contain Kildare, who unpicked the Rebel locks time and again with both measured build-up and pin-point passes inside.

Cork, who lost midfielder, Alan O’Connor in the first half through injury, needed to start the second half well and almost did so when Conor Dorman palmed against the bar. Then, to compound their disappointment, Kildare grabbed a goal of their own after a terrific move involving Peter Kelly and Pádraig Fogarty was finished by Kelly.

From this point, Brian Cuthbert’s team had no other option other than to be more attack-minded, which played right into Kildare’s hands. Jason Ryan’s side added further points from play from man of the match, Paul Cribbin, Cathal McNally and Alan Smith, while Eoghan O’Flaherty hit another free as the gap between the teams rose to 12 points.

On 54 minutes, Colm O’Neill goaled from a free and, although the gap was narrowed to seven, Kildare were never going to be caught.

Kevin O’Driscoll was sent off for Cork, also in the 54th minute, and although Emmett Bolton saw red for the winners late on, it didn’t take the shine off a famous victory.

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