Kerry’s losing run in the Allianz Football League continued in Newbridge this afternoon as Kildare recorded a 2-08 to 0-12 victory over the Kingdom.
Early goalscorer Seanie Johnston provided the quality in a first half blighted by missed chances.
Kerry free-taker James O’Donoghue landed his fourth point to leave it 1-05 to 0-05 at half-time.
A Johnny Doyle goal boosted Kildare further, but Kerry launched a late rally and the hosts needed a fine save from Shane Connolly to make sure of the result.
Morgan O’Flaherty was a late change for the Lilywhites, coming in for centre back Hugh Lynch who failed a fitness test.
Kerry also had to restructure their attack, as Darran O’Sullivan was withdrawn from the team beforehand, with Michael O’Donoghue promoted from the bench.
Johnny Buckley, one of the returning Dr Crokes players, made early headway to set up James O’Donoghue for the game’s opening point from a free.
Buckley linked up at midfield with Kieran Donaghy who saw a lot of early possession.
Kildare, moving well off the ball, missed kickable chances through Tomás O'Connor and Doyle.
A terrific effort from distance from Buckley doubled Kerry’s lead but Kildare hit back with a well-executed 11th-minute goal that exposed the visitors’ loose marking.
Johnston started the move, winning the ball 45 metres out from goal.
An accurate long ball in from Niall Kelly was gathered under pressure by O’Connor who held it up and offloaded for Johnston to flick a clever shot beyond Brendan Kealy and into the net.
Padraig O’Neill, on captaincy duty, struck Kildare’s fourth wide soon after and Kerry were level by the quarter hour when James O’Donoghue slotted over his second free.
Johnston drew a foul from overworked marker Shane Enright who picked up a yellow card, and the resulting free was clipped over by Doyle.
The former Cavan forward curled a shot wide after a jinking run, but Kildare were back on target when O’Neill teed up Kelly for a point from play.
Despite an increasing wides tally, a Doyle free put three points between the sides before James O’Donoghue sent over his third pointed free.
Johnston took an ideal delivery from Morgan O’Flaherty before sweeping over his first point of the day, an eye-catching run from Daniel Flynn helping Kildare to maintain their momentum with Brian Flanagan gobbling up some key breaking balls.
O’Donoghue’s frees were keeping the Kingdom in the contest, but he fluffed his lines from close-in and Johnston, continuing to impress in the hosts’ forward line, lobbed over off his left for a 1-05 to 0-04 scoreline.
Eoin Brosnan nicked a shot wide and Kerry then pounced on a poor kick-out from Connolly in injury-time, with O’Donoghue reducing the margin back to three.
Kildare made a blistering start to the second half, Flynn charging through from the throw-in and Johnston was on hand to take his personal tally to 1-03.
Lacklustre Kerry had opportunities to respond but they struck four early wides, adding to eight from the opening 35 minutes.
The fit-again Donnchadh Walsh and Darran O’Sullivan, who came on for Michael O’Donoghue, were growing in influence though and a 45-metre effort from Buckley made it 1-06 to 0-06.
Jonathan Lyne then made up for an earlier miss with a right-footed score but Kerry’s resurgence was spoiled by a superb goal from Doyle.
Mikey Conway showed great vision to pick out the Allenwood clubman, who created enough space to drive a powerful shot into the top left corner of the net.
Bolton got on the scoresheet in another fast-paced move from Kieran McGeeney’s men.
However, Kerry remained in the hunt through points from Tomás Ó Sé and Lyne.
Donaghy’s switch into the edge of the square caused problems for the Kildare defence and the Lilywhites could have done with Doyle finding the net from a 56th minute penalty. Instead, his rising shot was well saved by Kealy.
Two pointed frees from Buckley, one of Kerry’s better performers, suddenly whittled the gap down to 2-07 to 0-11.
As Kildare came under further pressure, their goalkeeper Connolly reacted swiftly as his point blank save with an outstretched leg denied Brosnan.
Conway then came to the hosts’ rescue, clearing a dipping ‘45’ from Buckley off the goalline, only for substitute Peter Crowley to follow up with Kerry’s fifth successive point.
The tension for the home supporters was lifted by substitute Paddy Brophy’s late point, set up by Peter Kelly, as Kildare held on to make it three Division 1 wins on the bounce ahead of next weekend’s meeting with table toppers Dublin.
Kildare: Seanie Johnston 1-03, Johnny Doyle 1-02 (0-02f), Niall Kelly, Emmet Bolton, Paddy Brophy 0-01 each
Kerry: James O’Donoghue (0-03f), Johnny Buckley (0-02f) 0-04 each, Jonathan Lyne 0-02, Tomás Ó Sé, Peter Crowley 0-01 each
KILDARE: Shane Connolly; Hugh McGrillen, Mick Foley, Eoin Doyle; Mikey Conway, Peter Kelly, Emmet Bolton; Daniel Flynn, Padraig O'Neill; Morgan O'Flaherty, Niall Kelly, Brian Flanagan; Seanie Johnston, Tomas O'Connor, Johnny Doyle.
Subs used: Alan Smith for M O’Flaherty (47 mins), Paddy Brophy for Kelly (58), Ollie Lyons for Bolton, Cathal McNally for Flanagan (both 61), Eoghan O’Flaherty for Johnston (70+1).
KERRY: Brendan Kealy; Marc Ó Sé, Aidan O'Mahony, Shane Enright; Tomás Ó Sé, Eoin Brosnan, Killian Young; Kieran Donaghy, Johnny Buckley; Jonathan Lyne, James O'Donoghue, Donnchadh Walsh; Kieran O'Leary, Michael O'Donoghue, Barry John Keane.
Subs used: D O’Sullivan for M O’Donoghue (28 mins), Peter Crowley for Enright (46), Brian McGuire for Keane (51), Fionn Fitzgerald for T Ó Sé (69).