Boyle takes steam out of Down
KERRY 3-16 DOWN 2-17
Kerry withstood a strong second-half rally from Down to secure victory in Newry.
The visitors looked comfortable at half-time when they had a six-point cushion.
Goals from captain Aidan Boyle and ex-Kilkenny star Willie O'Dwyer plus seven points from Shane Nolan had them ahead by 2-11 to 1-8.
Danny Toner scored 1-1 from play for Down in the first half and they made a better fist of things after the break, James Coyle scoring their second goal.
Brendan O'Leary hit the net for Kerry's third goal but Down inched their way back into the game and it took a huge point from defender Liam Boyle to steady Kerry nerves late on.
"We've won five out of six competitive games," said Kerry boss Tom Howard. "We are scrapping it out."
SCORERS – Kerry: S Nolan 0-9 (7f), W O'Dywer, B O'Leary 1-2 each, A Boyle 1-0, C Harty, D Collins, L Boyle 0-1 each. Down: J Coyle 1-4, P Braniff 0-4 (2fs, 1 '65'), D Toner 1-1, G Johnston, C Woods, K McGarry 0-2 each, P Sheehan, M Turlet 0-1 each.
KERRY – B Rochford; B Murphy, L Boyle, P Costello; D O'Connell, T Murnane, D Dineen; J Griffin, B Brosnan; D Collins, B O'Leary, C Harty; S Nolan, A Boyle, W O'Dwyer. Subs: S Page for Brosnan (h-t), P O'Keeffe for Murphy (40), G O'Brien for Harty (44), P Boyle for O'Brien (65)
DOWN – S Keith; M Conlan, P Flynn, P Hughes; C Coulter, B Toner, B Nicholson; M Ennis, C Woods; P Sheehan, P Braniff, S Nicholson; D Toner, G Johnston, J Coyle. Subs: M Hughes for B Nicholson (37), K McGarry for Sheehan (54), M Turlet for Coyle (59).
REF – A Stapleton (Laois).