With Shane Nolan and Shane Brick combining for 2-11, the hosts turned in an impressive second-half performance to turn a two-point half-time lead (2-12 to 0-16) into an emphatic win. Two goals in 90 seconds midway through the second-half — Nolan and Aidan Boyle on target — helped to push Kerry 4-21 to 0-19 clear, despite the best efforts of Down full-forward Paul Braniff, who finished with 1-9. Even though Kerry had raced 11 points clear, 2-9 to 0-4, after 25 minutes of the first half, thanks to goals from Aidan Boyle and Shane Brick, Down then took complete control to whittle the lead down to just two points at half-time.
Outscoring Kerry 0-12 to 0-3, with Braniff grabbing 0-4 in this spell, as well as a brace apiece from Fintan Conway, Caolan Baillie and Paul Keith, Down thundered back into this contest. But Kerry finished in style to retain their place in the second tier again next season.
Scorers for Kerry: S Nolan 1-6, S Brick 1-5 (3f), A Boyle 2-0, W O’Dwyer, D O’Connell 0-4 each, D Walsh 0-3, D Dineen (1 sl) 0-2, C Harty, PJ Connolly, J Flaherty 0-1 each.
Scorers for Down: P Braniff (1-6f) 1-9, F Conway, E Clarke (1 65, 1 sl) 0-3 each, P Keith, C Baillie 0-2 each, D Toner, P Sheehan 0-1 each.
KERRY: B Rochford; B Murphy, P Costello, J Fitzgerald; A O’Connor, T Murnane, J Griffin; J Leahy, D O’Connell; C Harty, D Dineen, W O’Dwyer; S Brick, A Boyle, S Nolan.
Subs: D Walsh for J Leahy (ht); J O’Flaherty for C Harty (ht); R Horgan for J Fitzgerald (47); PJ Connolly for A Boyle (59); J Casey for P Costello (67).
DOWN: S Keith; M Hughes, S Ennis, J Smyth; F Conway, C Woods, M Ennis; E Clarke, A Savage; P Sheehan, K McGarry, C Baillie; D Toner, P Braniff, P Keith.
Subs: A O’Prey for K McGarry (14, inj); D Hobbs for P Sheehan (55); E McGuinness for P Keith (64); D Hughes for A O’Prey (64); M Cunningham for A Savage (69).
Referee: David Copps (Cork).