Kildare finished strongly to bag a vital victory over Clare in the Division 2 of the National Football League at St.Conleths Park.

A first-half Kevin Feely penalty set Kildare up for a commanding half-time advantage where they led by eight points and despite Clare rallying in the second half, Kildare were able to hold them off.

Clare had got back to within three points entering the final quarter but points from Jimmy Hyland, Adam Tyrrell, Ben McCormack and Jimmy Hyland put the seal on the result.

Kildare led all the way through with Neil Flynn top scoring for the victors with five points. 

The hosts looked to have banished the memory of the Fermanagh defeat with an exciting opening to the game in which they scored the first three points.

Neil Flynn initially caught an offensive mark and duly converted to get the scoring underway in the opening minute before Tommy Moolick kicked a couple of booming efforts from distance as Cian O’Neill’s men made a dream start.

Clare eventually got off the mark courtesy of a David Tubridy free in the 9th minute while Keelan Sexton then had the deficit down to just the minimum after converting a 45.

Clare barely had time to try and think of going level as moments later a poor kickout from Pierce DeLoughrey went straight to Ben McCormack and the Sarsfields man bore down on goal before he was fouled by Gordon Kelly and not only was a penalty awarded but Kelly was also sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.

Kevin Feely duly slotted home his second penalty of the League and Kildare powered into a four point lead.

The Banner county responded with a point from play by Eoin Cleary but after they squandered a couple of glorious goal chances including Jamie Malone fisting a shot wide where he was looking for a pass when in on Mark Donnellan.

Jason Gibbons who was making his first start also did well to deny a goalbound effort and from that point on Kildare began to go into overdrive.

The hosts kicked four efforts on the bounce with Flynn on the double as well as Jimmy Hyland expertly finding the target despite being under severe pressure.

Kevin Feely also scored with a fortuitous sideline ball bouncing over the bar to put his team 1-7 to 0-3 clear.

Cleary hit back with his second and third points of the half but it was all Kildare from there until the half-time whistle as Ben McCormack kicked a brace of beautiful efforts from play before Flynn rounded off the half’s scoring with a well taken free as Kildare took a 1-10 to 0-5 advantage into the break.

Kildare could have pushed further ahead at the start of the second period when Neil Flynn got in on the Clare endline but his right footed shot was well saved before Hyland swivelled to kick the rebound between the posts off his left foot.

Clare then got in something of a spurt with a couple of Jamie Malone scores adding to a Cleary free to leave six points between the sides once more.

Kildare were under a good bit of pressure but a David Hyland score at the end of a well worked move that went from one wing to the other settled them down.

Clare kept coming though and between the 48th and 53rd minutes they were back to within a score after Cleary and Cathal O’Connor kicked points before Jamie Malone who was proving very dangerous for the Kildare defence brought his tally to four points in the half with a duo of excellent shots.

To their credit though Kildare took the bull by the horn and finished in style with Hyland kicking them four clear as he registered their first score in eleven minutes.

Neil Flynn then brought his tally to five points with another free and when McCormack and Adam Tyrrell extended the advantage, the game was done as a contest.

Clare rallied with another Malone point while Mark Donnellan did well to save an effort from Gearoid O’Brien.

The game ended on a sour note for the visitors with Cormac Murray catching Eoin Doyle with a late challenge and he was sent on his way as he was given a straight red card.

The win now pushes Kildare up the Division with a huge game away in Navan against Meath awaiting next weekend.

Kildare: Mark Donnellan; Mark Dempsey, Mick O'Grady, David Hyland 0-1; Jason Gibbons, Eoin Doyle, Peter Kelly; Kevin Feely 1-1, Tommy Moolick 0-2; Paddy Brophy, Fergal Conway, Keith Cribbin; Jimmy Hyland 0-3, Ben McCormack 0-3, Neil Flynn 0-5 (0-3fs, 0-1 mark).

Subs: Aaron Masterson for Moolick 48 mins, Adam Tyrrell 0-1 (0-1f) for Brophy 50 mins, Kevin O’Callaghan for Cribbin 56 mins, Cian O’Donoghue for Gibbons 58 mins, James Murray for McCormack 65 mins.

Clare: Pierce DeLoughrey; Kevin Hartnett, Cillian Brennan, Gordon Kelly, Dean Ryan, Aaron Fitzgerald, Conall O’hAinifein, Gary Brennan, Eoin Cleary 0-6 (0-3fs), Cian O’Dea, Jamie Malone 0-5, Dale Masterson, Cathal O’Connor 0-1, Keelan Sexton 0-1 (0-1 45) David Tubridy.

Subs: Kieran Malone for O’hAinifein h-t, Cormac Murray for Sexton h-t, Sean Collins for Masterson 51 mins, Gearoid O’Brien for Ryan 51 mins, Gavin Cooney for Tubridy 68 mins.

Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry)