Kildare 2-13 Derry 2-08
Derry midfielder PJ McCloskey admitted that he and his team-mates have plenty of work to do to avoid relegation from Division Two of the NFL.
A sucker punch late goal from Kildare substitute Alan Smith saw an Oak Leaf fightback come up frustratingly short in Newbridge yesterday afternoon.
Having trailed by five points at one stage, goals from Sean Leo McGoldrick and Cailean O'Boyle had clawed Derry back to within a point of the Lilywhites and on the verge of a remarkable comeback.
But Smith's strike leaves Derry in the relegation mire. McCloskey lamented: “We'd gotten right back into it and I was thinking that the comeback was on but then they hit us on the break.
“It's frustrating — the margins are so tight, all it takes is one free or one play to go your way and you're back in it but it wasn't to be.
“We have three games to go and we need to start picking up some points straight away. We are down in Meath next week and we need to come away with two points from that game.”
Derry supporters might have come away disappointed with the result but they couldn't complain about a lack of entertainment from this fast paced game.
Despite three first half points from Paddy Bradley, Derry trailed by two at the break with James Kavanagh (two) and Eoghan O'Flaherty (three) helping the hosts to a 0-8 to 0-6 lead at the break.
Conleith Gilligan's free saw Derry close the gap at the start of the second half.
ButKildare skipper Johnny Doyle then found his shooting boots, kicking two great scores from play and converting a penalty to propel the home side into a 1-12 to 0-8 lead.
However, Derry responded immediately with O'Boyle feeding McGoldrick for a goal and, when O'Boyle himself found the net, the margin was down to a point at 1-12 to 2-8 with only five minutes remaining.
However as Derry pressed for the equaliser they turned over possession and an incisive counter attack finished with Kildare substitute Smith blasting home from close range.
There was no way back after that and a perfect afternoon for Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney was completed when county talisman Dermot Earley marked his return from injury by coming off the bench to kick the game's closing score.
With only two points on the board from four outings, Derry will need to pick up at least two wins from their remaining games against Meath, Westmeath and Louth as they seek to avoid a descent into Division Three.
Kildare: S Connolly; PKelly, H McGrillen, O Lyons; E Bolton, M O'Flaherty (0-1), M Foley; D Flynn, J Doyle (1-3,1-0 pen); J Kavanagh (0-2), M Conway (0-1, free), P O'Neill (0-1) E Callaghan, T O'Connor, E O'Flaherty (0-4, two frees).Subs: A Smith (1-0) for Conway (55), K Ennis for Callaghan (66), D Earley (0-1) for O'Connor (68).
Derry: B Gillis, B McCallion, C McKaigue, A McAlynn; M Craig, C Kielt, SL McGoldrick (1-0), M Friel, PJ McCloskey; N Forester, B Gormley, B McGoldrick; C Gilligan (0-4, three frees), P Bradley (0-3, one free), E Lynn (0-1).Subs: C O'Boyle (1-0) for N Forrester (43), Patsy Bradley for Gormley (49), E McGuckin for Lynn (58), E Scullion for Kielt (68).
Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh).