Kerry back to winning ways as Kildare make the drop
Kildare have been relegated back to Division Two after just one year in the top flight following a sixth successive loss in their Allianz League campaign, going down by five points to Kerry at Austin Stack Park.
The win takes Kerry a step closer to preserving their Division One status but the reigning champions might still need to take something from next week's trip to Tyrone.
Other results in round six will clarify Kerry's position and what exactly will be required in Omagh, but it was a disappointing return to the Kingdom for former team selector Cian O'Neill, who left in 2015 to manage his native Kildare.
Both counties have much work to do before their respective provincial championship but after three successive defeats the Munster side will be pleased to have stopped that poor run with this win, but Kildare will definitely play second-tier football next year.
It took the game a while to warm up and the teams were deadlocked 0-04 apiece after 17 minutes. Kerry came to life in the second quarter with seven unanswered points through Kevin McCarthy (2), David Clifford (two frees), Paul Geaney, Paul Murphy and Daithí Casey that helped them to a 0-11 to 0-05 half time lead. Kildare were game enough and enjoyed reasonable possession but wayward shooting hurt them badly in that second quarter.
Paul Geaney's point opened up a seven-point lead early in the second half for Kerry but a brace from Daniel Flynn and another from Ben McCormack kept Kildare in touch. Barry John Keane and Flynn traded points as Kildare tried to reel in the hosts, and at the three-quarter mark they had Kerry's lead down to three, 0-13 to 0-10.
That was as close as Kildare got, however, as another Clifford free and a David Moran score pushed Kerry into a five-point lead, and further points from Casey, Clifford (2) and goalkeeper Shane Murphy sealed the win for Kerry.
It was the first game in four that Kerry didn't concede a goal but they have also failed to score a goal in four games. That's something manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice didn't need reminding about but his immediate concern will be matters elsewhere on Sunday and what it will mean for Kerry's trip to Tyrone next week.
Kildare host the team promoted with them last year, Galway, with little more than pride to play for against one of this year's League finalists.
Kerry: S Murphy (0-01f), B Ó Beaglaoich, J Foley, R Shanahan, P Murphy (0-01), P Crowley, F Fitzgerald, J Barry, B O’Sullivan, M Burns (0-01), D Casey (0-02), K McCarthy (0-02), D Clifford (0-06, 0-04f), P Geaney (0-03, 0-01f), B J Keane (0-02).
Subs: David Moran (0-01) for B O'Sullivan (46 min), Matthew Flaherty for M Burns (52 min), Adrian Spillane for K McCarthy (58 min), Mark Griffin for P Geaney (60 min), Johnny Buckley for BJ Keane (64 min), Tom O’Sullivan for F Fitzgerald (67 min)
Kildare: M Donnellan, P Kelly (0-01), D Hyland, M O’Grady, J Byrne, E Doyle, K Flynn, K Feely (0-01), T Moolick (0-01), F Conway, K Cribbin, P Brophy (0-01), B McCormack (0-01), D Flynn (0-06), N Kelly (0-01).
Subs: Paul Cribbin for K Feely (28 min), David Slattery (Confey) for K Cribbin (b/c, 49 min), Fionn Dowling (0-01) (Suncroft) for T Moolick (49 min), Mark Sherry for P Brophy (b/c, 58 min), Cathal McNally for B McCormack (58 min), Jimmy Hyland for F Conway (61 min)