Patrick McBrearty . . . again leading way for Donegal
The last time Donegal won in Kerry was in their first season in Division One in 1988. Their supporters thought they would do it again in Killarney but there was heartbreak in the final seconds.
There were heroes for Donegal all over the field as they were down to 14 men for the last 15 minutes of the first half and the entire second half when Nathan Mullins was shown red.
There were magnificent performances all over the field and Donegal did not deserve to lose this game.
Donegal can take a lot from the game, which was played in front of a massive crowd of over 10,000.
The opening four points were shared with Jamie Brennan having Donegal on the mark inside 14 seconds. Barry John Keane fisted a reply while Sean O Se and Patrick McBrearty traded points.
Donegal did have a couple of goal chances in the opening minutes with Jamie Brennan and Odhran MacNiallais being denied.
O Se and Patrick McBrearty again traded points by the 10th minute before Barry John Keane put Kerry ahead again.
There was one moment of class in the 14th minute when Odhran Mac Niallais made a great fetch and almost instantly fired the ball forward which was just inches ahead of Patrick McBrearty.
Sean O Se pushed Kerry two clear but Mac Niallais replied for Donegal on 16 minutes but disaster struck minutes later. Firstly they lost Mark Anthony McGinley to injury. Peter Boyle was just on the field when Kerry put a great move together and wonder kid David Clifford got clear to cross for Stephen O'Brien to find the net. A couple of minutes later it got worse for Donegal as Nathan Mullins was shown red after he reacted to being fouled by kicking out.
David Clifford stretched the Kerry lead to five points but credit to Donegal, they outscored Kerry 0-4 to 0-2 in the final ten minutes. Or that should read Patrick McBrearty outscored Kerry as the Kilcar man hit three frees and then a marvellous effort from play on the stroke of half-time.
In between Sean O Se (free) and Ronan Shanahan had scores for Kerry as they led 1-8 to 0-8 at the break.
In a great start to the second half, substitute Niall O'Donnell was involved along with Patrick McBrearty before Tony McClenaghan drilled the ball to the Kerry net and level matters.
Michael Burns replied for Kerry but another great fetch from Odhran MacNiallais saw him win a free and McBrearty levelled matters with his seventh of the game.
Gavin Crowley and Paul Geaney pushed Kerry two clear again by the 42nd minute but great work by MacNiallais and Leo McLoone saw the Gaoth Dobhair man reply with a great point. And it got better as Stephen McBrearty edged Donegal ahead with his first touch after coming on as a sub in the 47th minute.
There was another twist on 54 minutes when Kerry won a penalty when Paul Murphy was pulled back, but Paul Geaney drove the spot kick over the bar and a let off for Donegal.
Sean O Se levelled from a free but Donegal struck for a second goal after a great pass from Paul Brennan, who found Niall O'Donnell. The St. Eunan's man set up Odhran MacNiallais to find the net.
It got better with ten minutes left after Paul Brennan drew a foul and McBrearty notched his 10th point of the game and a four point lead.
But with seven minutes left Kerry were back on level terms. Firstly a turnover saw Stephen O'Brien set up Paul Geaney to finish to the Donegal net and within a minute they were level.
Killian Spillane put Kerry two clear as Jason McGee was down injured. But there was another twist as Hugh McFadden won the kick-out and found Darach O'Connor, who was just on the field, and he found the net.
Three minutes into the five minutes of added time, Sean O Se levelled for Kerry from a free. There was further drama as two more red cards were flashed to Gavin Crowley and Tony McClenaghan. From the resumption Kerry got forward for Daithi Casey to hit the winner.
It was heartbreak for Donegal.
Scorers - Kerry: Sean O Se 0-7,4f; Paul Geaney 1-2, 0-1 pen; Stephen O'Brien 1-1; Barry John Clifford 0-2; David Clifford 0-1,f; Ronan Shanahan, Micheál Burns, Gavin Crowley, Killian Spillane, Daithi Casey 0-1 each
Donegal: Patrick McBrearty 0-10,8f; Odhran Mac Niallais 1-2; Tony McClenaghan, Darach O'Connor 1-0 each; Jamie Brennan, Stephen McBrearty 0-1 each.
KERRY: Shane Murphy; Cormac Coffey, Jason Foley, Shane Enright; Paul Murphy, Gavin Crowley, Ronan Shanahan; Barry O'Sullivan, Brendan O'Sullivan; Micheál Burns, Seán Ó Sé, Stephen O'Brien; David Clifford, Paul Geaney, Barry John Keane. Subs., James O'Donoghue for Keane, Jack Savage for Clifford both 47; Jack Barry for Barry O'Sullivan 55; Killian Spillane for O'Donoghue 56; Daithi Casey for Shanahan; Matthew Flaherty for Coffey;
DONEGAL: Mark Anthony McGinley; Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Caolan Ward, Stephen McMenamin, Tony McClenaghan, Paul Brennan, Leo McLoone; Hugh McFadden, Nathan Mullins; Martin O'Reilly, Ryan McHugh, Caolan McGonagle; Jamie Brennan, Odhrán Mac Niallais, Patrick McBrearty. Subs., Peter Boyle for McGinley 16; Niall O'Donnell for J Brennan ht; Ciaran Thompson for McGonagle 43; Stephen McBrearty for O'Reilly 46; Jason McGee for McLoone 66; Darach O'Connor for McGee 70
REFEREE: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)