Kildare secured their second consecutive promotion thanks to a 70th-minute point from Paul Cribbin having been on the back foot for much of the latter period.
Clare had the chance to snatch a share of the spoils but, much to his horror, Eoin Cleary, who had scored some wonderful points from play in his tally of seven, dragged his kick wide from a 35m free in injury time.
Colm Collins’ men were magnificent and had turned a five-point interval deficit into a two-point lead entering the final quarter, despite playing into a strong wind.
A 42nd-minute goal by the outstanding Shane Brennan was a key score but Kildare had received plenty of warning, with Brennan having struck the butt of the post in the first half while Clare got through the middle of the home defence on at least three other occasions.
Just three minutes after the goal, Brennan was through one-on-one but Mark Donnellan came up with a big save.
It was looking good for Clare, though, when Brennan, Cleary and Jamie Malone raised white flags to make it 1-12 to 0-13.
Kildare lost David Slattery and Kevin Feely to in the space of two minutes and Feely’s loss was considerable, as the Athy giant was brilliant aerially, while his distribution stood out and he slotted seven points from frees using both left and right feet.
Cian O’Neill will have been delighted with the manner in which his charges stemmed the tide and found a way to solve problems.
Cribbin showed real leadership skills in this time, scoring three points from play, including the decisive one.
Kildare got themselves ahead twice but Cleary angled shots over from the ‘wrong’ side with his left foot to apparently give Clare a draw they most definitely deserved.
But with time running out, Cribbin drove forward from the middle, beating three players before offloading to Ollie Lyons.
Sensing an opportunity, he maintained his run and was on hand to take a pass from Ben McCormack to fire the score that sealed his side’s return to Division 1 for the first time since 2014.
It had all looked much easier in the opening half, with Feely imperious and using the elements well to slot five pointed frees, while Niall Kelly also helped himself to a brace.
Cleary had three for Clare but the visitors should have been closer at the change of ends, carving out some outstanding situations but gaining no return from them.
And that proved significant in the end.
Kildare: M Donnellan, M O’Grady, D Hyland, O Lyons, J Byrne, E Doyle, K Cribbin, K Feely 0-7(fs), T Moolick 0-1, F Conway 0-1, N Kelly 0-2, P Cribbin 0-3, D Slattery, F Dowling 0-2(1f), C Healy 0-1. Subs: C Hartley for Slattery BC (52), B McCormack 0-1 for Feely BC (54), C McNally for Healy (58), E Callaghan for Kelly (70+2)
Clare: Joe Hayes, M McMahon, K Harnett, John Hayes, L Markham, G Kelly, D Ryan, G Brennan 0-1, C O’Connor, C O’Dea, K Sexton 0-1, S Brennan 1-2, E Cleary 0-7(3fs), D Tubridy 0-2(1f), J Malone 0-1. Subs: D Nagle for John Hayes BC (47), C Russell for O’Dea (52), E Collins for S Brennan (46)
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh)