Kildare 3-16 Down 0-22
Goals win games and a hat-trick from KIldare proved the difference as they got their hands on Christy Ring Cup honours when holding off stubborn resistance from a determined Down side in Croke Park this afternoon.
Both sides were already promoted for the decider and will play Joe McDonagh Cup hurling in 2021 but the silverware went to David Herity's side with the crucial goals bagged by Tadhg Forde, Paul Divilly and Jack Sheridan.
Kildare got off to a flying start and led 1-3 to 0-1 after six minutes when Forde reacted quickest to the rebound of Sheridan's goal attempt and volleyed it to the net, although Down keeper Stephen Keith will have been disappointed to have been beaten by a weak effort.
Down reeled off the next five points to be level by the first water break, though, as they got to grips with Kildare's athleticism with Pearse Óg McCrickard firing over two nice points, including an exquisite sideline cut that Joe Canning would have been proud of, 1-3 to 0-6.
Kildare went 14 minutes without a score before captain Brian Byrne added three quick-fire frees with James Burke also firing over from a tight angle but Down drew level again with Tim Prenter sending over his second point while McCrickard hit another beauty.
There was a sting in the tail from the Lilies before the break, though, when veteran Paul Divilly raced through the heart of the Down defence in injury time before firing low past Keith to hand Herity's side a three-point lead at half-time, 2-7 to 0-10.
Points from Donal Hughes and Oisín McManus had Down within one in the opening minutes of the second half before a 1-2 burst from Kildare looked to put them well on their way to victory with Byrne and Sheridan (free) landing points.
Sheridan then capitalised on confusion in the Down defence to carry the ball in along the end-line before rattling the onion bag with a lovely finish from an acute angle to hand them a six-point lead, 3-9 to 0-12 after 39 minutes.
McManus and McCrickard left Down three down at the second water break and scores from substitute Paul Sheehan and Daithi Sands left them one behind after 56 minutes before Kildare fired the next three points to put some daylight between the sides with an hour played, 3-13 to 0-18.
There were a few anxious moments at the finish, but Sheridan steadied the ship with two late placed balls to see them home with Down's misery compounded as they lost Conor Woods to a straight red card deep in injury time.
SCORERS – Down: O McManus 0-9 (6f), P Óg McCrickard 0-4 (0-1 sideline cut), T Prenter 0-4, P Sheehan 0-2 (1f), C Woods 0-1f, D Hughes 0-1, D Sands 0-1. Kildare: B Byrne 0-7 (6f), J Sheridan 1-4 (3f, 0-1 '65), J Burke 0-2, P Divilly 1-1, T Forde 1-0. D Slattery 0-1, J Burke 0-1
Down: S Keith; M Hughes, C Taggart, T Murray; B Trainor, C Woods, L Savage; M Conlon, J McManus; D Hughes, P Óg McCrickard, T Prenter; O McManus, E Sands, D Sands. Subs: G Hughes for Trainor inj (27), P Savage for M Hughes (half-time), C Egan for D Hughes and P Sheehan for McManus (both 54), R McCusker for McCirckard (67).
Kildare: M Doyle; S Leacy, J Doran, C Shanahan; N Ó Muineachain, R Boran, K Whelan; Cathal Dowling, P Divilly; B Byrne, J Burke, Conor Dowling; T Forde, J Sheridan, D Slattery Subs: S Christanseen for Shanahan (43), S Ryan for Conor Dowling (51), K Aherne for Forde (54), C McCague for Slattery (69).
Referee: C Mooney (Dublin)