Kerry full-forward Padraig Boyle converted an injury-time point from a free, his 10th white flag of the game, to give the Kingdom victory and end Carlow's unbeaten run in Division 2A after a thriller at Netwatch Cullen Park yesterday.
The visitors looked to be cruising when leading by seven points on 61 minutes (1-23 to 2-13).
Inspired by midfielder Patrick Kelly, Kerry had kept picking off their points in the opening half.
Carlow were dependant on full-forward Marty Kavanagh, who took his 18th-minute goal well.
But undaunted, Kerry regained control to lead by 0-15 to 1-8 at half-time. The Kingdom continued to dictate matters after the change of ends, before a Carlow fightback saw Michael John Nolan score a close-range goal and a succession of home points eventually saw the outstanding Marty Kavanagh level the game from a 50-metre free (1-23 to 3-17).
It appeared as if Carlow had salvaged a draw, only for Boyle to punish a Carlow indiscretion with the winning point. Right-half-forward Michael O'Leary scored Kerry's goal on 41 minutes.
Man of the Match: Patrick Kelly
Scorers - Carlow: M Kavanagh 1-7 (6f), J M Nolan and E Byrne 1-2 each, Sean Murphy, D English 0-2 each, D Byrne, J Kavanagh 0-1 each. Kerry: P Boyle 0-10 (8f) S Nolan 0-4, P Kelly 0-3, M O'Leary 1-0, C Harty, M Boyle 0-2 each, D Collins, J Egan, L Egan 0-1 each.
Carlow - K Kehoe 6; R Coady 6, S Kavanagh 6, A Corcoran 7; D English 7, J Rogers 6, G Coady 6; D Byrne 5, J Kavanagh 6; Seamus Murphy 5, E Byrne 7, J M Nolan 8; A Gaule 5, M Kavanagh 8, C Doyle 6. Subs: Sean Murphy 7 for Gaule (51); E Coady 6 for Doyle (56); E Nolan for J Kavanagh (61); R Smithers for Seamus Murphy (67).
Kerry - J Logue 6; T Casey 6, B Murphy 6, D Fitzell 6; S Weir 6, D Dineen 8, D Collins 6; J Griffin 7, P Kelly 9; M O'Leary 6, S Nolan 8, C Harty 7; M Boyle 6, P Boyle 8, J Egan 6. Subs: P Lucid 6 for Egan (56); R Hogan for Weir (66).
Ref - J Heffernan (Wexford)