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Local Studies Department

Kildare v Cork, All-Ireland Senior Football Semi-final, Sept 2, 1928

Leinster Leader, September 8, 1928, page 3

THE GAME

The outstanding feature of a game which was far better contested than the scores would indicate was the superb Kildare defence and the brilliant performance of Martin Walsh in the goal. The Kildare team played a fast and scientific game and only in the first half were the All Whites fully extended. The team throughout was sound, but the backs covered themselves with glory in a brilliant defence which was faultless and was crowned by the performance of Walsh in the goal at a critical period of the game. At all times Walsh has been rightly regarded as a brilliant custodian, and many fine performances are to his credit, but in Sunday's game he excelled and proved himself a regular wizard between the posts. The incident of his goal-keeping which evoked general applause was when the Cork forwards brought the ball to the edge of the Kildare parallelogram and sent in a terrific shot for the corner of the net. Walsh boxed clear, and a second later threw himself to the far corner of the net and stayed a return shot just on the line. Yet again the Cork men returned the ball and hurled themselves after it in a compact rush. The stands rocked with applause when it was seen that Walsh cleared with a box over the heads of the Corkonians a second before he was precipitated into the net, the centre of a wild tangle of attackers and defenders. One felt it was hard luck on Cork, but the feeling was submerged in admiration of the brilliant defence and the general applause of the spectators paid merited tribute to as fine a performance as was ever witnessed on a Gaelic field. Apart from the outstanding performance of Walsh in the goal the whole Kildare back line was sound and "Gus" Fitzpatrick showed up prominently in a succession of brilliant clearances. He was a tower of strength to his side and was marked out by the Cork forwards for special attention. Malone showed a marked improvement on previous performances and Mangan gave the best display he has yet been responsible for, but this only maintained a level for the Kildare team which was all around excellent.

The big margin in the scoring is liable to create a false impression of the merits of the Cork men. Undoubtedly they were not up to the standard of the Kildare men, but it was only the brilliant superiority of the All Whites that held them in check and at any time they were a combination that could not be trifled with. They had many players of the highest standard-Mattie Murphy, of Macroom, as centre half, and J. Vaughan, his townsman, who transferred from right to left, with J. Hurley, O'Donoghue and others, but the forward line was unable to cope with the great Kildare defence, and the fact that the backs moved up in attempt to strengthen the forward section resulted in a loss of cohesion. In the face of a less finished performance than that given by the Kildare men the Corkonians might well have annexed the laurels of their play, but the champions were simply invincible, and in the face of the continuous frustration of their efforts to penetrate the visitors' defence and the accompanying modicum of hard luck, the inevitable reaction set in amongst the homesters and the later stages of the game found them more or less disorganised. A factor which contributed largely to the smallness of the Cork score was the frequency with which the Southerners transgressed by holding. Time after time a promising forward move was spoiled in this way. A Cork Gael attributed this failing to the fact that local referees are not as strict as they might be and allow such minor infringements to pass. It would be advisable to the Cork Co. Board to look into the matter and bring their refereeing up to championship standard, as otherwise habits grow and their teams must always be at a disadvantage when the rules are strictly enforced.

The game was played in a most commendable spirit. In the first half matters were keenly contested, and despite the fact that superior tactics got the Kildare men through time after time for a score, frequent visits were paid to the Kildare posts by the Cork men, and the defence was severely tested. There was an exciting interval after fifteen minutes play when the homesters made a determined move forward and bottled the champions on their goal line. A terrific bombardment of the Kildare posts followed and the attackers struck the cross-bar once. For a period of five minutes the attack was relentlessly sustained, but a fine defence prevailed. Further attacks faired similarly and despite all the Cork men could do the half-time whistle sounded on a score of 1 goal 5 points to nil.
Despite the big lead of the champions there were many who hoped that, in a year of surprises, the Cork men would still recover at least to the point of putting the issue in doubt, so enthusiasm was unabated when the game resumed. In the opening play of the second half the Southerners made determined efforts to get through but a point by Keogh and a goal by Mangan put a damper on the game. Donegan subsequently put over a point, the first score for his side, but the Cork men were failing to stay the pace which was very fast. Kearney scored a second point later, having failed by inches with a great shot prior to that. The Kildare forwards were in almost constant possession and the Cork backs brought off some fine clearance. It was Kildare's game at this stage, and after Mangan registered a further goal for his side the result was beyond all doubt. The Cork men continued a great struggle, but their efforts went for nothing. From this onwards the champions were not fully extended and the spectators had commenced to leave the field prior to the long whistle which left Kildare victors to meet Cavan on the 30th inst. in the All-Ireland Final, on the score of 3 goals 7 points to 2 points.

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