Ryan strike kills off plucky Lilywhites challenge
Clare overcame a plucky Kildare and the handicap of shooting 16 wides to finish strongly and secure an ultimately comfortable victory in Newbridge.
While the Bannermen can look forward to a Division 2 league final, Kildare will go into their Christy Ring Cup campaign knowing that they will be playing in Division 3 next year, after Westmeath's last-gasp victory over Down.
Barry Nugent opened the scoring for the Banner with a good point and Diarmuid McMahon's ninth-minute goal seemed to indicate that the predicted rout was under way. But Kildare rallied to get themselves back into proceedings.
A wonderful point by Mark Moloney got them off the mark and some fine scores by David Kennedy, Martin Fitzgerald and David Harney kept them in touch.
The impressive Colin Ryan, John Conlon, Cormac O'Donovan and Nugent came up with the replies though and Clare led by 1-7 to 0-6 at the break.
Kildare resumed in determined fashion and three points in six minutes from Moloney, Fitzgerald and a Kennedy '65 reduced the margin to the minimum.
Crucially though, Kildare only managed one point in the final 20 minutes. In that period, Clare registered a goal and seven points to confirm their superiority.
Ryan contributed a goal and two points of that tally, with the goal coming from a powerful ground shot with 10 minutes remaining.
Scorers -- Clare: C Ryan 1-4 (0-2f, 1 '65), N O'Connell 0-3 (0-1f), D McMahon 1-0, C Donovan, B Nugent, J Conlon 0-2 each, P Vaughan, F Lynch 0-1 each Kildare: M Fitzgerald 0-4 (0-3f), D Kennedy 0-3 (0-2f), M Moloney, D Harney 0-2 each.
Clare -- D Touhy; P Vaughan, C Cooney, D O'Donovan; G Quinn, B Bugler, P Donnellan; C O'Donovan, B O'Connell; J Conlon, J Clancy, F Lynch; D McMahon, B Nugent, C Ryan. Subs: S Collins for Lynch (40), N O'Connell for B O'Connell (47), M Murphy for Clancy (51), M Scanlon for McMahon (54), E Glynn for Quinn (61).
Kildare -- D Byrne; P Reidy, J Doran, P Curtin; N O Muineachain, D Kennedy, B White; J Houlihan, D Carter; M Moloney, F O Muineachain, M Fitzgerald; D Harney, A McAndrew, K Divilly. Subs: M Divilly for White (7), C Kenny for McAndrew (44), P Moloney for F O Muineachain (64).
ref -- E Morris (Dublin).