Mayo 0-13 Kildare 1-11
Wing-back Eoin Doyle got the crucial score of this encounter when he fisted home the only goal of the game as Kildare recovered from a dreadful start in Castlebar.
Kieran McGeeney’s men, who suffered their first defeat of the league against Dublin last week, looked set for another fruitless outing when they fell six points behind in the opening half despite playing with the wind.
Mayo, trying to recover from three successive defeats after their opening day win over Kerry, should have been even further in front.
But they squandered a host of chances and their shooting got worse as the game progressed and in the end they hit 14 wides.
They will look back on those misses with huge regret in what turned out to be a one-point game and James Horan’s men now face a battle to avoid being relegated just six months after being in the All-Ireland final.
That September final will be repeated in Castlebar next Sunday when Mayo will host the All-Ireland champions badly needing a win to try preserve their top flight status.
They could do little wrong in the opening half against the wind and with wing-back Colm Boyle going forward to shoot a couple of points and newcomer Cathal Carolan also landing two, they opened up a 0-6 to 0-0 lead after 19 minutes.
Kildare, who hit four bad wides in the opening twelve minutes, finally got off the mark when Niall Kelly pointed in the 19th minute.
That score ignited them. Seanie Johnston, always a threat, hit a couple of points and Johnny Doyle set up Eoghan Doyle for a fisted goal which gave Kildare a 1-5 to 0-7 interval lead.
Mayo regained their composure after the restart and Evan Regan tied the game with a pointed free.
However, Mayo never managed to get back in front again in the game.
Daniel Flynn hit one of the points of the match from the right and then Johnston finished a good passing movement with another Kildare point.
Another Regan pointed free interrupted Kildare’s flow but points from Paddy Brophy and Kelly put a goal between them at 1-9 to 0-9 after 54 minutes.
Doherty pulled one back and then centre-back Tom Cunniffe went forward to reduce the margin to a point after 58 minutes as Mayo came with a late flourish.
But Fionn Dowling responded for Kildare with a good point. Mayo sub Cillian O’Connor hit back with a free but another Kildare sub, Eoghan O’Flaherty also pointed to restore the two points advantage in the closing stages.
Another O’Connor free left the minimum between them going into stoppage time but Mayo could not conjure an equaliser and fell to a fourth defeat in a row.
They will now need to bounce back and gain some measure of revenge against Donegal next Sunday in Castlebar if they are to give themselves hope of avoiding the drop.
But they will continue struggle unless they can find a way to finish scoring chances after some dreadful misses in this game.
Kildare are back on track to be involved in the business end of the leagu but manager Kieran McGeeney will be the first to realise that a more ruthless team than Mayo would have been out of sight if they are ever as poor in the opening quarter again.