Kildare 2-8 Kerry 0-12
Both sides maintained their respective 100% records in the Allianz Football League, but Kildare were very fortunate to continue their winning run as a sloppy second half performance almost cost them dearly.
What did prove significant were Kerry’s 16 wides, some of them that had to be seen to be believed.
Powered by Johnny Buckley, Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men dominated most of the latter period but just could not find the target sufficiently.
They were a bit unlucky too, as Shane Connolly and Mikey Conway both made goal-line clearances for Kildare in a frantic final quarter.
Kerry were denied a very strong penalty claim too when Kieran Donaghy appeared to be impeded in the small parallelogram and minutes later, the hosts were given a spot-kick when the excellent Brian Flanagan was fouled.
The otherwise excellent Johnny Doyle had his effort saved by Brendan Kealy though and points from Buckley and Jonathan Lyne brought a galvanised Kerry ever closer, as Kildare became increasingly unsure about themselves.
The margin was down to the minimum entering injury time but last year’s minor captain, Paddy Brophy pointed and the home side hung on to the delight of the majority of the 5,995 in attendance.
Kerry began well with points from James O’Donoghue and Buckley but with the colossal Daniel Flynn exerting a greater influence at midfield, Kildare gradually got on top.
Seanie Johnston was looking sharp too and the former Cavan man’s 12th minute goal sent the Lilywhites on their way.
The score owed much to the ball skills and sheer strength of Tomás O’Connor, as the full-forward reacted well to gather Niall Kelly’s dragged attempt at a point. Despite being fouled, he managed to offload to Johnston who shot low to the Kerry net.
O’Donoghue levelled with a free but two frees from the tireless Doyle and scores from Kelly and Johnston established a comfortable advantage.
Kerry were flattered by only being a goal in arrears at the break (1-5 to 0-5) but with Buckley thundering into proceedings, they were a different side in the latter period.
Johnston had a point after 21 seconds following a strong run by Flynn that threatened a goal before he was held up and passed to his team-mate.
Kerry came back but kicked four bad wides, although Lyne was unlucky to pull his attempt at goal wide after the visitors had carved the Kildare defence open.
A brilliant 47th minute goal by Doyle looked to have decided the tie though, as the Allenwood marksman shot unerringly into the top right hand corner of the net, after good work earlier by O’Connor and lovely deft kick-pass from Mikey Conway.
He wasn’t as unerring from the penalty spot though as Kealy dived well to his right to save the Kildare penalty with just over 12 minutes of normal time remaining.
Buckley had taken on the free-taking duties by this stage and he landed two excellent kicks.
The Kildare goal lived a charmed life at times as Kerry bombarded high balls in the direction of Kieran Donaghy, who was now stationed at full-forward after a fairly ineffectual midfield showing.
Peter Crowley did bring it back to one point before Brophy calmly ended 21 minutes without a score for Kildare to land the spoils.
Scorers: Kildare: S Johnston 1-3; J Doyle 1-2(0-2fs); N Kelly, E Bolton, P Brophy 0-1 each
Kerry: J O’Donoghue(3fs), J Buckley(2fs) 0-4 each; J Lyne 0-2; T Ó Sé, P Crowley 0-1 each
Kildare: S Connolly; H McGrillen, M Foley, E Doyle; M Conway, P Kelly, E Bolton; D Flynn, P O’Neill; M O’Flaherty, N Kelly, B Flanagan; S Johnston, T O’Connor, J Doyle. Subs: A Smith for M O’Flaherty (46); P Brophy for Kelly (58); O Lyons for Bolton (61); C McNally for Flanagan (61); E O’Flaherty for Johnston (70+1)
Kerry: B Kealy; M Ó Sé, A O’Mahony, S Enright; T Ó Sé, E Brosnan, K Young; K Donaghy, J Buckley; J Lyne, J O’Donoghue, D Walsh; K O’Leary, M O’Donoghue, BJ Keane. Subs: D O’Sullivan for M O’Donoghue (27); P Crowley for Enright (46); B McGuire for Keane (52); F Fitzgerald for T Ó Sé (69)
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois)