Substitute David Slattery's second-half goals gave Kildare a 2-9 to 0-10 victory over Down at Newry.
The Mourne County went into the game having just completed back-to-back victories but it was the visitors who grabbed the points that move them into pole position to secure promotion to the top flight, with eight points on the board out of a possible ten.
Introduced from the bench at the break, Confey clubman Slattery netted excellently at the canal end of Pairc Esler in the 50th minute and added his second on 50 minutes - another lovely low finish.
Kevin Feely slotted five frees for Cian O'Neill's men, while goalkeeper Mark Donnellan, Tommy Moolick, Paul Cribbin and Ollie Lyons also contributed scores.
With 1,700 looking on at a match played in windy conditions, the winners led by four points to three at the end of a tense opening period. Barry O'Hagan pointed twice either side of Donnellan's '45' before Moolick and Feely (two frees) made it double scores. Darragh O'Hanlon's free left the minimum in it at the break but the introduction of Slattery proved to be the turning point.
The hosts finshed the night with 13 men as, having used all six substitutions, they lost Darren O'Hagan and sub Jerome Johnston to injury and a black card respectively late on.
Kildare - M Donnellan (0-1'45); M O'Grady, D Hyland, O Lyons (0-1); J Byrne, E Doyle, K Cribbin; K Feely (0-5f), T Moolick (0-1); F Conway, N Kelly, P Cribbin (0-1); C McNally, D Flynn, C Hartley. Subs: D Slattery (2-0) for C McNally, F Dowling for C Hartley, E Callaghan for D Slattery, E Heavey for T Moolick, S Ryan for F Conway, L Healy for E Doyle.
Down - M Cunningham; R McAleenan, B McArdle, D O'Hagan; D O'Hanlon (0-4f), C McGovern, C Mooney (0-2); A Carr, P Turley; K McKernan (0-1), C Maginn, J Murphy; S Millar, B O'Hagan (0-2), R Johnston. Subs: A Davidson for R Johnston, N Donnelly for A Carr, J Johnston (0-1) for A Davidson (BC), M Poland for C Maginn, S Dornan for S Millar, C Magee for P Turley, J Johnston (BC).
Referee - N Cullen.