KILDARE are staring relegation in the face after losing their fourth game on the trot as Kerry ougunned them 2-15 to 0-15 in Newbridge yesterday.
The visitors were in a different class and a nine-point lead by the 50th minute gave the Kingdom the luxury of running their bench.
By half-time, they had missed three open goals and had a strong penalty claim ignored, while Kildare goalkeeper Shane Connolly also made a couple of good saves.
Fans were puzzled as to why corner-back Mick O'Grady was left on Kerry wizard James O'Donoghue for the duration and wondered also why Pádraig Fogarty was withdrawn, despite his impressive 15-minute cameo.
Unfortunately, Fogarty pulled the hamstring that had kept him out since his O'Byrne Cup heroics, while Kildare's lengthy injury list also limited their full-back options.
Manager Jason Ryan had already taken off the Cribbin brothers and pulled Eoghan O'Flaherty to wing-back in an attempt to stick a finger in the dyke after trailing by four at half-time (1-10 and 0-9).
But it is arguable that no one could have stopped Kerry's rampaging All Star yesterday as O'Donoghue took his tally in the last two games to 4-8.
He also delivered the inch-perfect chip across the goalmouth that Paul Geaney palmed to the net after 26 minutes, a pivotal score which put Kerry five points clear after the sides had been level three times.
Kerry boss Éamonn Fitzmaurice is not a man given to hyperbole, but even he conceded that O'Donoghue "did well again today and there's even more in him! He had another couple of chances that he didn't take, but he's going well."
Ryan's explanation for leaving rookie O'Grady on O'Donoghue was that, "Mick has been our standout player in the full-back line so far and we want him to learn and develop.
"You don't want somebody learning to happen at the expense of you losing a game, but we don't feel that one thing caused us to lose today, there was a lot of other factors as well."
Stephen O'Brien, on whom Kildare tried three different markers, also gave them serious trouble until Fergal Conway's arrival, and Daithí Casey and Geaney also exposed their individual defensive frailties.
Mayo are back in the hunt for a semi-final spot after they fired four goals past previously unbeaten Cork in a 4-12 to 2-14 victory at McHale Park.
Jason Doherty, Jason Gibbons, Alan Freeman and Cillian O'Connor all hit the net for James Horan's men, who weathered an early Cork storm to take the victory.
With Brian Hurley in terrific form, Cork stormed into a 0-5 to 0-0 lead by the ninth minute, but Doherty's goal late in the first half gave them the upper hand.
The home side continued where they left off after the restart and Kevin McLoughlin pointed before Aidan Walsh and Donncha O'Connor closed the gap to six points again.
But once Gibbons hit Mayo's third goal in the 50th minute and O'Connor followed suit nine minutes later, the points were secured.
"We're a bit disappointed with the end," Mayo boss James Horan said. "But we created 10 goal chances, scored four and for maybe 35 or 40 minutes played really good football."
Tyrone delivered a much-improved performance to ease past Westmeath on a 2-23 to 1-12 scoreline.
Mickey Harte's men were under pressure to deliver following their failure in Killarney last week and they succeeded in doing so.
Westmeath now look certain to make a quick return to Division 2, but for Tyrone, the NFL semis have come back into firm focus.