Donegal threw away a six point advantage with just eight minutes to go and looked to have blown a famous victory.
Jim McGuiness’ men strangled the life out of Kingpins Kerry in a pulsating second half
Donegal went in at half time with a two point lead but it was Donegal’s defence that won the day.
Time and time again in the second half they broke down the best attack in the country as Declan O’Sullivan, Kieran Donaghy and even The Gooch were made to look ordinary.
Donegal were given a fright when Kieran Donaghy managed to palm home a goal with four minutes to go.
But when Kerry added another two points and reduced the margin to juts one it looked like it was curtains for the men from Tir Chonaill.
They kept their heads however as the fans and almost everyone else lost theirs!
Karl Lacey and Colm McFadden scored two late points to wrap up matters.
The fans waited for the team to leave the pitch and quite rightly gave them a massive send-off.
It was a battle, it was a dogfight but it was a result.
That’s all that matters and that’s all that Jim McGuinness and his charges will care about.
Next up is the small matter of Cork.
But we’ll leave that for another day.
Our Man of the Match: Mark McHugh
Donegal scorers: C McFadden 1-05 (1-00sl, 0-02f), M Murphy 0-03 (0-02f), L McLoone, P McBrearty, C Toye, K Lacey 0-01 each.
Kerry scorers: C Cooper 0-04 (0-02f), K Donaghy 1-00, A Maher 0-02, B Sheehan (0-01f), Declan O’Sullivan, J O’Donoghue, P Galvin 0-01 each.
Donegal: Paul Durcan; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn; Eamon McGee, Karl Lacey, Anthony Thompson; Ryan Bradley, Rory Kavanagh; Martin McElhinney, Leo McLoone, Mark McHugh; Patrick McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden.
Subs used: Neil Gallagher for McElhinney (h-t), David Walsh for Bradley (59), Christy Toye for McLoone (62), Daniel McLaughlin for McBrearty (70+2).
Kerry: Brendan Kealy; Marc Ó Sé, Aidan O’Mahony, Shane Enright; Tomás Ó Sé, Eoin Brosnan, Killian Young; Anthony Maher, Bryan Sheehan; Paul Galvin, Declan O’Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh; James O’Donoghue, Colm Cooper, Kieran Donaghy.
Subs used: Brian Maguire for Brosnan (25 mins), Darran O’Sullivan for Young (32), Johnny Buckley for Sheehan, Kieran O’Leary for Declan O’Sullivan (both 46), Patrick Curtin for O’Donoghue (57).
Referee: Martin Duffy (Sligo).