Whatever Kildare did at half-time worked a treat for Emmet Bolton because he looked a man who’d had his batteries recharged during the break. He had little influence on the first half he only managed to carry the ball forward twice in the opening 35 minutes.
Post interval, he was a new man. His solo-running has always been a big strength but he took it to new heights against Cork. Nine times he carried the ball forward, gaining 20 yards on average each time. Basically Bolton made a gain of nearly 200 yards in total from his solo-runs. Once, he made a good 50 yards on a run, while four times he covered at least 20 yards. Padraig O’Neill, who seemed like he was everywhere in the second half – and ended up getting the man-of-the-match award – had six solo runs in the second half for a gain of about 110 yards in total.
Those two really hurt Cork in the second half and it’s easy to see why – that kind of effort is simply phenomenal in really heavy ground at this time of the year.
Kelly does it again
HAVING tormented Donegal in the second half in his first league outing, Niall Kelly did something similar to Cork in his second appearance.
His introduction at half-time had already caused problems for Cork before Damien Cahalane got himself sent off in the 40th minute. Even at that stage, it was Kelly’s fourth time involved in the play. His first two possessions led to turnovers although with a kinder ref he might have had a free and on a better night Tomas O’Connor would have held on to his pass. Kelly put the hard-working Padraig O’Neill through for a shot on goal in the 39th minute although it was one of very few blemishes on O’Neill’s performance as he undercooked his shot despite being in the clear.
The stamp on Kelly by Cahalane was not the worst incident ever seen on a football pitch but it was cheap and designed to hurt – players coming in with their knees and feet like that is happening too often in football nowadays.
Kelly wasn’t fazed by the incident although he did blot his own copybook by conceding a free for a lazy foul on Graham Canty before compounding his error by talking back to the referee. That meant the free was moved to within scoring range for Donnacha O’Connor, who took full advantage.
Thereafter Kelly was superb. He finished his goal with aplomb and posed a threat every time he was on the ball. In the last ten minutes he was on the ball six times and did something positive with each possession.
Although he didn’t quite match his performance against Donegal, that was never likely given Pairc ui Rinn was like a bog in comparison to Croke Park. Still Kelly managed to prosper in the sticky conditions and one passage of play where he was under extreme pressure on the right wing highlighted just how good he is on the ball. He had the strength and composure to wriggle free so that he had just enough space to get a pass away when Cork looked like they had him surrounded. It’s incidents like that more than any of his scores that make you think he’ll be a handful against any team.
Flanagan fails to fire
Having been awesome against Donegal, Brian Flanagan struggled to get a grip with Cork.
One of his first acts was a return to type – kicking a hopeless ball forward into the attack which went over the sideline. Typical of Flanagan, he was straight back into the fray and when play resumed he nipped in to steal the ball back from Cork and in the process won a free, which John Doyle converted.
Against Donegal he won nine kick-outs yet he couldn’t get his hands near the ball against Cork – they annihilated Kildare on their own kickout in the first half. As Kildare settled into game, so too did Flanagan. He kicked away another bad pass from a free midway through but from that moment on he stuck to his strengths and linked the play with handpasses. It was a night to keep the ball in hand and the passing simple – when Flanagan just laid the ball off, he didn’t go wrong.
He was more active after half-time and made an excellent burst forward for a shot on goal that was blocked down – it was a pity because he had shown good skill to get past his man and create space for a shot.
His evening eventually came to an end when he was eventually replaced by Morgan O’Flaherty in the 54th minute.