By Eoghan Cormican
Kerry 0-19 Kildare 0-14
A sixth consecutive league defeat means Kildare will spend next spring in Division 2.
The visitors to Austin Stack Park for this evening’s Allianz football league Division 1 fixture needed to claim a first win of 2018 to have any chance of avoiding the drop but failure to overcome Kerry sees them relegated to the second tier with a round to spare.
Kerry’s third win of the campaign moves them to six points on the table, although they are still not guaranteed of their Division 1 status for next year.
The victory was their first win in four and there were second-half run-outs for David Moran, Mark Griffin and Johnny Buckley.
The hosts were sitting pretty at the break, in front by 0-11 to 0-5. Kildare probably shaded the opening quarter of an hour, their inside line looking extremely busy with and without possession.
Kevin Feely, Tommy Moolick and Niall Kelly had them 0-3 to 0-1 in front by the 11th minute and while Kerry would reply with three on the bounce, a Daniel Flynn fisted point levelled matters at 0-4 apiece after 15 minutes.
Then arrived the decisive break, Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s charges kicking seven on the hop to put a sizeable chunk of daylight between the teams.
Kevin McCarthy (0-2), David Clifford (two frees), Geaney, Daithi Casey and Paul Murphy were the providers during this spell of dominance.
Kildare’s half was summed up by Paddy Brophy kicking wide a straightforward 25-metre free directly in front of the posts.
Cian O’Neill’s side, to their credit, made a decent fist of it in the second period, outscoring their opponents by 0-5 to 0-2 in the 16 minutes after half-time.
Daniel Flynn was really making his presence felt at full-forward, kicking three points from play for the Lilywhites.
A fine Paddy Brophy kick had the deficit back to three, 0-13 to 0-10, and it should have been two but for Kevin Flynn hitting the post.
As it was, David Clifford (free) and sub David Moran landed successive white flags to keep the visitors at arm’s length from there to the finish. Clifford finished as Kerry’s top scorer.
He tallied four frees and two from play. All of Kildare’s 0-13 total came from play. Little consolation.
Scorers for Kerry: D Clifford (0-6, 0-2 frees); P Geaney (0-3, 0-1 free); K McCarthy, D Casey, BJ Keane (0-2 each); S Murphy (0-1 free), M Burns, P Murphy, D Moran (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kildare: D Flynn (0-6); K Feely, T Moolick, P Brophy, B McCormack, N Kelly, F Dowling, P Kelly, M O’Grady (0-1 each).
Kerry: S Murphy; B Ó Beaglaoich, J Foley, R Shanahan; P Murphy, P Crowley, F Fitzgerald; J Barry, Barry O’Sullivan; M Burns, D Casey, K McCarthy; D Clifford, P Geaney, BJ Keane.
Subs: D Moran for O’Sullivan (45); M Flaherty for Burns (52); A Spillane for McCarthy (58); M Griffin for Geaney (60); J Buckley for Keane (64); T O’Sullivan for Fitzgerald (67).
Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland, M O’Grady; J Byrne, E Doyle, K Flynn; K Feely, T Moolick; F Conway, K Cribbin, P Brophy; N Kelly, D Flynn, B McCormack.
Subs: P Cribbin for Feely (28 mins, inj); D Slattery for K Cribbin (bc, 48); F Dowling for Moolick (50); M Sherry for Brophy (57, bc); C McNally for McCormack (58); J Hyland for Conway (61).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).