Kildare 0-16 Sligo 1-12
A wonderful point by Eamonn Callaghan in the third minute of injury time consigned plucky Sligo to Division 3 next season, after it looked like Kevin Walsh’s charges had managed to salvage survival with a late charge.
Two excellent scores, the second a towering, curling effort in the 71st minute, brought the teams level and looked to have secured their status in the second tier but man of the match Callaghan broke their hearts with a brilliant point from 47m to augment a top class display by the Naas man.
Kildare burst out of the blocks with three early points from Fionn Dowling, Brian Flanagan and Eoghan O’Flaherty but they were rocked by some dozy defending that allowed Stephen Coen in for an eighth minute goal.
Alan Costello took a quick free and found Coen in splendid isolation behind the home defence with a glorious ball. The St Mary’s man had plenty of time to pick his spot and shoot to the roof of the net, although Shane Connolly did get his hand to the ball.
Callaghan and Johnny Doyle hit back with two fantastic points as Kildare continued to dominate the breaks around the middle but Sligo gradually got themselves back into proceedings and a good 10-minute spell actually saw them in front by the 25th minute.
Mark Breheny slotted two frees before Coen kicked Sligo’s first score from play to bring the sides level and his marker, Hugh McGrillen was called ashore soon after.
Breheny put them in front with a neat score but Kildare finished the half very strongly with five consecutive points, including two from Dowling to lead by 0-11 to 1-7.
The Lilies spurned numerous scoring opportunities early in the second half, shooting five wides and hitting the upright twice from straight-forward positions.
That gave Sligo hope and they kicked five points in a row to make it all square, Alan Costello, Coen and Eamonn O’Hara notching up the pick of them.
O’Hara’s was the leveller in the 66th minute but he should really have goaled after making a brilliant catch. He just got under his shot too much though and the ball cleared the crossbar by inches.
Padraig O’Neill and the outstanding Gary White fired over two eye-catching points but Maye’s contribution restored parity before Callaghan had the final say.
Kildare: S Connolly; A Mac Lochlainn, M Foley, H McGrillen; G White 0-1, M O’Flaherty, E Bolton; H Lynch 0-1, D Flynn; E Callaghan 0-4, R Sweeney 0-1, B Flanagan 0-1; E O’Flaherty 0-3(2fs), F Dowling 0-3, J Doyle 0-1. Subs: O Lyons for McGrillen (28); P O’Neill 0-1for Sweeney (49); J Kavanagh for Dowling (55); C Brophy for Flynn (64); K Cribbin for Flanagan (64)
Sligo: P Greene; C Harrisson, N Ewing, R Donovan; D Rooney, P McGovern, K Cawley; T Taylor, S Gilmartin 0-1; A Costello 0-1, M Breheny 0-2(1f), S Davey; S Coen 1-2, E O’Hara 0-1, A Marren 0-2(fs). Subs: F Quinn 0-1 for Davey (29); B Egan for Taylor (58); D Maye 0-2(1f) for Marren (64); B Kennedy for Cawley (64)
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry)