Kerry led 0-17 to 0-9 midway through the second half when O’Connor emptied his bench introducing nine substitutes, including two local Ballymac lads, Kevin O’Shea and Aidan Breen. McGeeney gave game time to Mick Foley, Morgan O’Flaherty and Emmet Bolton in a competitive affair.
Kerry dominated the opening exchanges with the midfield of Bryan Sheehan and Anthony Maher along with Kieran Donaghy at wing forward providing a fine platform for an inside line of James O’Donoghue, Declan O’Sullivan and Barry John Keane. At the other end Marc Ó Sé was deployed at corner-back with Daniel Bohan impressing against Tomás O’Connor on the edge of the square.
Foley and Bolton were amongst the best on show for the visitors while Mikey Conway was their top scorer with five points.
Kerry led 0-13 to 0-9 at half time before racing eight points clear as Kildare squandered chances after chance.
But then O’Connor ran his bench and Kildare quickly gained a foothold. A succession of points followed, including a bizarre effort by Kerry sub Michael Moloney which flew over his own bar. The momentum remained with Kildare who claimed victory courtesy of Tommy O’Neill’s injury time effort.
Scorers for Kildare: M Conway 0-5 (0-4 frees, 0-1 ’45), E Callaghan 0-4, E Bolton 0-2, M Moloney (own point) , J Doyle, P Fogarty, E O’Flaherty, P O’Neill, T O’Neill and D Lawlor 0-1 each
Scorers for Kerry: B Sheehan 0-6 (0-5 frees, 0-1 ’45), J O’Donoghue 0-6 (0-4 frees), P Curtin 0-3, Declan O’Sullivan and A Maher 0-1 each
KERRY: T Mac a tSaoir, M Ó Sé, D Bohan, P O’Connor, J Lyne, K Young, B McGuire, A Maher, B Sheehan, P Curtin, Darran O’Sullivan, K Donaghy, J O’Donoghue, Declan O’Sullivan, B J Keane
Subs: B Kealy for T Mac a tSaoir (h/t), D Geaney for Darran O’Sullivan (46), D O’Callaghan B J Keane (46), M Geaney for K Donaghy (55), K McKenna for M O’Se (55), F Fitzgerald for P O’Connor (55), M Moloney for J Lyne (55), C Kerins for Declan O’Sullivan (56), K O’Shea (Ballymacelligott) for K Young (60), A Breen (Ballymacelligott) for J O’Donoghue (60)
KILDARE: R Eyres, A McLoughlin, M Foley, H McGrillen, E Bolton, M O’Flaherty, C Fitzpatrick, J Doyle, P Fogarty, E O’Flaherty, M Conway, P O’Neill, E O’Callaghan, T O’Connor, A Smith.
Subs: T O’Neill for C Fitzpatrick (20), R Sweeney for E O’Flaherty (24), D Lawlor for A Smith (h/t), K Dowling for T O’Connor (50), K Ennis for J Doyle (50), M Scanlon for A McLoughlin (56).
Referee Shane Hourigan (Limerick).