Kildare are Christy Ring Cup champions following their thrilling 4-18 to 2-22 win over Kerry at Croke Park.

Padraig Boyle and Shane Nolan grabbed first-half goals for Kerry, while Gerry Keegan and goalkeeper Paul Dermody (penalty) hit the net for the Lilywhites, who trailed by 2-10 to 2-09 at the interval.

Ray McLoughney and Berrnard Deay both netted for Kildare, and while John Griffin and Nolan were on target with points for the Munster men, the Lilywhites they held out in the face of a Kingdom barrage in the closing stages.

Kerry raced into a 1-05 to 0-02 lead inside the opening 11 minutes as they launched a high tempo challenge.

Shane Nolan and Mikey Boyle slotted over points, and goalkeeper Tadhg Flynn bombed over a free from all of 85-metres.

In the fifth minute, the Lilywhite defence was caught cold as Flynn’s puck-out was gathered by full forward Padraig Boyle, who flashed the sliothar into the net.

Kildare were living on scraps, sporadic raids giving them points via Bernard Day and Gerry Keegan.

But suddenly they exploded into action, hitting six points on the spin to go level by the 18th minute.

Deay, Keegan, Ray McLoughney, Paul Divilly and Martin Fitzgerald all split the posts as the Leinster men swept forward in waves of attacks.

And in the 27th minute they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Tony Murphy. Goalkeeper Dermody stepped up to smash the ball to the net, and Kildare led for the first time.

A minute later, they stunned the Kingdom with a second goal, Keegan giving Flynn no chance with a searing finish.

But Kerry responded with a goal of their own. John Doran’s long delivery broke to Nolan, who drove a firmly struck shot past Dermody to level the game.

And a sweet Thomas Casey strike sent Kerry in with a narrow 2-10 to 2-09 advantage at the break.

Sloppy defending allowed McLoughney in for a third Kildare goal seven minutes into the second half as the Lilywhites moved back in front

The high tempo showed no sign of dropping as both sides attacked with fervour, particularly Kerry, who added scores through John Egan and substitute John Griffin, who fired over a couple of long range gems.

But Brian Lawlor had his men fired up for this one, and Kildare stunned their opponents with a fourth goal in the 54th minute.

Martin Fitzgerald’s shot came back off a post, and Deay smashed in the rebound to put them back in front, a lead Kildare never lost.

Kerry did come close to grabbing a goal that would have brought them level five minutes from the end, but Dermody got his angles right, and kept out David Butler’s effort.

The margin was down to a flimsy two points after Nolan and Griffin tagged on points, but the Lilies stood firm and proud.

Kerry: T Flynn (0-01, f), B Murphy, T Murnane, D Fitzell, S Weir, D Dineen, T Casey (0-01), D O’Connell, C Harty (0-03), M Boyle (0-01), D Collins (0-01), J Egan (0-03, 2f), D Butler (0-03), P Boyle (1-02), S Nolan (1-04).

Subs: J Griffin (0-03) for Fitzell, B O’Leary for Boyle, J Leahy for Casey, J Casey for Butler

Kildare: P Dermody (1-00, pen), J Doran, F O Muineachain, N O Muineachain, D Harney, M Moloney, R Hoban, E O’Neill, M Fitzgerald (0-02), R Kelly, P Divilly (0-07, 5f), B Deay (1-03), G Keegan (1-04), T Murphy, R McLoughney (1-02).

Subs: P Reidy for Kelly, J O’Malley for Murphy

Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny)