Galway recorded their second successive Super 8s success when outscoring Kildare by 0-19 to 0-16 in an entertaining contest in the sapping heat of Newbridge.
The losers - who are now out of contention for a place in the last four - stood toe to toe with the Tribesmen for most of the early exchanges but their hopes effectively went up in smoke ten minutes into the second half when they lost key figure Daniel Flynn to a straight red card. That incident seemed to suck the energy out of the Lilywhites, both physically and mentally.
To their credit, the home team kept battling to the end thereafter and they got back within the minimum on a couple of occasions but - in action for a sixth weekend out of seven - they were very much out on their feet. Galway took full advantage and held on for their second win of the round-robin quarter-final series, which has them within touching distance of a semi-final place.
Slotting the last three points before the break, Kevin Walsh's charges led by the odd point from 21 at the end of a thrilling first half of attacking football during which the sides were level on five occasions.
Six points were shared inside the opening ten minutes and a routine Shane Walsh free from in front of the posts edged the Connacht champions back in front in the twelfth minute before captain Damien Comer spun to land an inspirational point despite being under extreme pressure.
Mick O'Grady got back on his line to deny substitute Patrick Sweeney a Galway goal in the 15th minute and there was a four-point swing when Fergal Conway dropped over a point at the other end. Michael Daly and Peter Cook had notched the first two points for the winners and Daly cancelled out a Daniel Flynn effort that bounced over the bar before Neil Flynn (free) and Kevin Flynn pointed for the hosts to tie up the scores for the second time.
The Lilywhites hit the front for the first time in the 20th minute when - completely unopposed - Paul Cribbin hammered over a trademark point from the right wing, a Flynn free that was moved forward for bad manners having drew the sides level for the third time.
Wing back Johnny Heaney's excellent point from a tight angle off his left boot made it 0-6 apiece but Neil Flynn replied with a strike that was an identikit of Cribbin's. On 23 minutes, Cribbin punctuated a rapid Kildare counter with a nonchalant left-footed finish to double their advantage, only for the westerners to reply with a fisted Comer point and a confident score from their other wing back, Cathal Sweeney.
In the 27th minute, Daniel Flynn speared over an exquisite point on the run off his left boot following a cheeky pick-up. Ninety seconds later, Conway contemptuously booted over his second to leave two between the teams again. Walsh's brace had the teams level for the fifth time with four minutes left in a riveting opening period.
Both goalkeepers made timely interventions as the drama increased: Ruairi Lavelle denied Johnny Byrne before Mark Donnellan thwarted Patrick Sweeney at the other end. Visiting midfielder Tom Flynn lofted over the point that separated the teams at the short whistle.
When the action resumed, Donnellan executed an excellent diving save to deny Walsh with his fingertips following an exchange between Walsh (free) and Paddy Brophy; a typically-audacious Gareth Bradshaw point on 45 minutes restored the Tribesmen's two-point cushion and there was a massive swing in favour of the visitors when Kildare were reduced to 14 men as full forward Flynn was shown a straight red card for an ill-judged off-the-ball swing at Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh.
Kildare's Daniel Flynn was red-carded in the second-half
Eamonn Brannigan stretched the gap but Paul Cribbin replied before Comer's blast to the roof of the Kildare net was contentiously ruled out for over-carrying. The Galway captain was clearly being fouled as he bore down on goal so at least deserved a free-in.
Nevertheless, Ian Burke made it a three-point game with 15 minutes left when he swung over a tidy point with his left foot but the hosts kept themselves in touch as Brophy pointed on the hour after Ó Ceallaigh had added to the winning tally.
Neil Flynn's straightforward free reduced the arrears to two win eight minutes left as the Lilywhites refused to accept defeat and the No.13 followed up with his fifth point in the 64th minute - a wonderful strike from an acute angle on the right.
Galway were under unreal pressure now but substitute Seanie Armstrong popped over the insurance point on 66 minutes after an attempted Kevin Feely equaliser at the other end was blocked down. Amid incredible tension, Kildare sub Chris Healy made it a one-point affair again on 68 minutes. Seconds earlier, Comer opted to go for goal when he had an easy point at his mercy - but his shot was blocked and the 14 men were granted a temporary reprieve…
The next time Galway got through on goal, Sean Kelly opted to fist a point in the second of four added minutes; Comer notched the closing score of the game on the stroke of the final whistle as the Tribe closed in on a semi-final place.
Galway - R Lavelle; D Kyne, S A O Ceallaigh, E Kerin; G Bradshaw (0-1), J Heaney (0-1), C Sweeney (0-1); P Cooke (0-1), T Flynn (0-1); S Kelly (0-1), S Walsh (0-4, 3f), M Daly (0-2); I Burke (0-1), D Comer (0-3), E Brannigan (0-1). Subs: P Sweeney for M Daly, S Armstrong (0-1) for P Sweeney, G O'Donnell (0-1) for J Heaney, A Varley for E Brannigan (BC), J Duane for S A O Ceallaigh, F O Curraoin for T Flynn.
Kildare - M Donnellan; P Kelly, M O'Grady, D Hyland; E Doyle, K Flynn (0-1), J Byrne; K Feely, T Moolick; K Cribbin, P Cribbin (0-3), F Conway (0-2); N Flynn (0-5, 3f), D Flynn (0-2), P Brophy (0-2). Subs: N Kelly for T Moolick, C Healy (0-1) for K Cribbin, J Murray for P Kelly, D Slattery for P Cribbin, E Callaghan for P Brophy (BC), F Dowling for F Conway.
Referee - S Hurson.