Derry 2-17 Kildare 3-9
Division 1 title contenders Derry have coasted past Kildare at Celtic Park today.
Captain Mark Lynch led by example with 1-06 with his side now bound for the semi-finals and Kildare's relegation confirmed.
The visitors were only 1-7 to 1-3 behind at half-time with Keith Cribbin cancelling out Cailean O'Boyle's early goal.
Lynch's second half goal and a glut of points sealed the result, although Eamonn Callaghan and Tommy Moolick's late goals salvaged some Lilywhite pride.
Those concessions in the dying minutes took some of the gloss off Derry's fourth win of the campaign, but the in-form hosts never really had to get out of third gear throughout.
The Oak Leafers made a confident start with Emmett McGuckin and Lynch pointing inside the first three minutes, while rudderless Kildare registered two wides.
Benny Heron helped the hosts get the edge in midfield and he provided the assist for O'Boyle's seventh-minute goal. Sean Leo McGoldrick was also involved in the attack which ended with the corner forward crashing the ball to the net.
Derry should really have two or three goals in the first half, but Kildare stopper Shane Connolly produced a couple of excellent saves to keep his side in the hunt.
Derry manager Brian McIver had to shuffle his deck as midfielder Fergal Doherty was forced off and his replacement James Kielt also picked up an injury, bringing Aaron Devlin into the fray.
Kildare were 1-3 to 0-0 adrift after Lynch converted a free, but a defensive error allowed Cathal McNally knock the ball across for incoming defender Cribbin to fist home his 14th minute goal.
Derry pressed on with successive points from O'Boyle, Lynn and McGuckin, with corner back Gareth McKinless featuring in the build-up to McGuckin's second score of the day.
Kildare's search for their first point ended in the 26th minute as Cribbin added to his goal, and substitute Fionn Dowling and Hugh Lynch notched two more before the interval.
Derry's scoring rate dropped approaching half-time, Heron tagging on a '45' after Connolly denied Lynn and the Lilywhites goalkeeper also did well to stop Devlin's goal-bound effort just minutes later.
The Ulstermen resumed in fine fettle, exploiting the space afforded to them and the early loss of centre-back Gary White to a black card was an untimely setback for Jason Ryan's charges.
Mark Lynch landed the resulting free, Ciaran McFaul then got on the scoresheet before Derry capitalised on a loose kickout with Lynn playing in Lynch for a low drilled shot past Connolly from 12 yards out.
Mikey Conway pulled a point back for the Lilywhites, but Derry maintained a high tempo and Heron, O'Boyle - with a lovely curling effort - Lynn and Lynch soon made it 2-13 to 1-4.
The contest was akin to a challenge match now with the two league points tucked under the Oak Leafers' arm, and Kildare struggling to gain a foothold.
The introduction of substitutes Johnny Doyle, Padraig O'Neill and Callaghan did help, with Doyle (free) and midfielder Moolick - one of few Lilywhites to impress - sandwiching a Sean Leo McGoldrick point.
Kildare strung together their best attacking spell as Dowling pointed off his left and O'Neill and Moolick also raised white flags for a 2-14 to 1-9 scoreline.
Derry's intensity had noticeably dropped but Lynch woke them up again with a powerful shot that bounced back off the woodwork. He followed up with two frees either side of a Charlie Kielt point from play.
That wrapped up Derry's scoring for the afternoon, but Kildare gained some consolation with two late goals. Callaghan sent a left-footed shot into the corner of the net and Moolick took his tally to 1-02 after Derry were dispossessed in the final seconds.
DERRY: Thomas Mallon; Gareth McKinless, Chrissy McKaigue, Dermot McBride; Kevin Johnston, Gerard O'Kane, Sean Leo McGoldrick (0-1); Fergal Doherty, Patsy Bradley; Ciaran McFaul (0-1), Mark Lynch (1-6, 0-4f), Enda Lynn (0-2); Benny Heron (0-2, 0-1 '45'), Emmett McGuckin (0-2), Cailean O'Boyle (1-2).
Subs used: James Kielt for Doherty, Aaron Devlin for J Kielt, Aidan McAlynn for McKinless, Charlie Kielt (0-1) for Johnston, Ciaran McGoldrick for O'Boyle, Oisin Duffy for McBride.
KILDARE: Shane Connolly; Mick O'Grady, Michael Foley, David Hyland; Hugh McGrillen, Gary White, Keith Cribbin (1-1); Tommy Moolick (1-2), Hugh Lynch (0-1); Cathal McNally, Mikey Conway (0-1), Eoghan O'Flaherty; Paddy Brophy, Tomás O'Connor, Darroch Mulhall.
Subs used: Fionn Dowling (0-2) for Mulhall, Peter Kelly for White (black card), John Doyle (0-1, 0-1f) for O'Connor, Padraig O'Neill (0-1) for Conway, Eamonn Callaghan (1-0) for McGrillen.
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh)