Down 0-10 Kildare 2-9
Kildare went three points clear at the top of the Division Two table after a well-deserved win over Down in a feisty affair at Pairc Esler.
Down opened the scoring when Barry O’Hagan finished off a patient length of the field passing move to raise a white flag in the second minute.
Mark Donnellan opened the Lilywhites’ account in the sixth minute when he floated over a ‘45, before O’Hagan restored the Down advantage just before the 15 minute mark.
Cian O'Neill's side then began to dominate midfield, and three points in 10 minutes from Tommy Moolick and Kevin Feely (two frees), put them 0-4 to 0-2 in front with seven minutes of the half remaining.
Darragh O’Hanlon pulled one back with Down’s first score in 19 minutes to leave the minimum between the sides at the change of ends.
Kildare enjoyed a purple patch at the start of the second half, hitting 1-1 in the opening two minutes. Feely knocked over another free, before setting up David Slattery for the first goal of the game. The half-time substitute rifled his effort low and into the back of the net.
Caolan Mooney pulled it back to a three point game with two scores, before Feely and Kevin McKernan traded points.
Then came the killer score on 50 minutes, when Niall Kelly fed Slattery who produced an exquisite finish to make it 2-6 to 0-6.
Feely and O’Hanlon (two) converted frees at either end before Paul Cribbin restored Kildare’s six-point advantage.
Down lost Alan Davidson to a black card, and after O'Hanlon and Jerome Johnston scored either side of an Ollie Lyons point for Kildare, they trailed by five.
Things then went from bad to worse, as Down finished the match with 13 men after they had used all six subs and captain Darren O’Hagan had to depart through injury, and Jerome Johnston was then black carded.
Down: M Cunningham; R McAleenan, B McArdle, D O'Hagan; D O'Hanlon (0-4, all frees), C McGovern, C Mooney (0-2); A Carr, P Turley; K McKernan (0-1), C Maginn, J Murphy; S Millar, B O'Hagan (0-2), R Johnston.
Subs: A Davidson for R Johnston (54mins), N Donnelly for Carr (57mins), J Johnston (0-1) for Davidson (Black Card - 64mins), M Poland for Maginn (66mins), S Dornan for Millar (69mins), C Magee for Turley (69mins).
Kildare: M Donnellan (0-1, '45); M O'Grady, D Hyland, O Lyons (0-1); J Byrne, E Doyle, K Cribbin; K Feely (0-5, all frees), T Moolick (0-1); F Conway, N Kelly, P Cribbin (0-1); C McNally, D Flynn, C Hartley.
Subs: D Slattery (2-0) for McNally (H-T), F Dowling for Hartley (54mins), E Callaghan for Slattery (65mins), E Heavey for Moolick (68mins), S Ryan for Conway (70mins), L Healy for Doyle (70mins).
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)