Donegal captain Patrick McBrearty fired over a brilliant point with 20 seconds to go as Donegal came back from six points behind to beat All-Ireland Champions Kerry in the Allianz Division 1 League opener.
Donegal 0-13 Kerry 1-9
Donegal started slow in Mac Cumhaill Park with just two points in the opening 20 minutes, while a Brendan McCole mistake with Shaun Patton out of his net saw Dara Moynihan get in for an easy goal.
Kerry led 1-6 to 0-3 after 25 minutes but a strong end to the first half and an equally impressive start to the second half saw Donegal hit seven scores without reply.
The last 20 minutes was tense and back and forth, Donegal being pegged back twice more after going ahead.
But Kilcar man McBrearty stepped up when it mattered the most and fired over a superb point with just 20 seconds to go.
A slow start to the game, Kerry had more possession but were wasteful, with both sides having a couple of wides in the opening stages.
Darragh Roche opened the scoring in the game after eight minutes, picking the ball up following a free from Tony Brosnan that smashed off the bar.
But Donegal responded quickly with two quick points, firstly through eventual man of the match Caolan McColgan on his league debut, driving forward from defence, and Donegal won the ball from the kick out, which saw Daire Ó Baoill get the space to fire over, 0-2 to 0-1 on nine minutes.
Kerry dominated the next 20 minutes however, with Paul Murphy using the post to help his shot go over from 45 metres.
The biggest moment of the half came through when Donegal were caught in possession, and Dara Moynihan dispossessed Brendan McCole with Shaun Patton out of his net, allowing Moynihan to fire into the empty net.
Donegal were caught out twice more in possession too easily, and Tom O’Sullivan and Killian Spillane both took advantage with quick counter attacks, 1-4 to 0-2.
Conor O’Donnell got Donegal’s only score of a 20 minute period as Jamie Brennan played him in and he got into an advanced position but opted for the point.
Roche got two points in two minutes then, one cutting in from the right to fire over, and then after Donegal lost possession.
But Donegal grew into the game more coming up to half-time, two quick points coming from O’Donnell, and then a McColgan strike caused confusion as to whether it went over the bar but referee Liam Devenney awarded the point after consulting with his referee, much to the dismay of the Kerry players.
Caolan McGonigle, just back on after a blood sub was battling hard and gave his side a chance when playing in Ó Baoill, but he dragged his shot just wide of the far corner.
Johnny McGroddy’s dummy then shot from 45 metres straight in front of the posts brought the home side back to within three points on the stroke of half-time, 0-6 to 1-6.
Unlike the first half, Donegal started the second half in an emphatic style, with Ó Baoill and O’Donnell firing over points inside the first six minutes.
A quick counter for Donegal could have saw them in for a goal, but the pass was just behind Jamie Brennan who turned and fired over to level the game.
And as Donegal won the kick out, Luke McGlynn, who was on the pitch just two minutes, then put Donegal ahead for just the second time in the match.
Donegal failed to keep that momentum going though and hit two wides in quick succession, while another great kick from Murphy levelled for Kerry with 20 minutes to go, 0-10 to 1-7.
Shaun Patton had the hosts ahead again from a 45, the first dead ball scored in 54 minutes of action, while Kerry posted a few wides of their own before eventually levelling through Ronan Buckley.
A hectic ending saw a Donegal attack with numbers forward, and Jamie Brennan’s shot along the ground was saved, with McGonigle unable to get a proper connection on the rebound.
But when it was needed for a captain to step up, Paddy McBrearty did just that, firing over a brilliant score with 20 seconds to go to make it 0-13 to 1-9.
Marty O’Reilly then did brilliant to block Ronan Buckley in Kerry’s last attack, as Donegal held on to give Paddy Carr a brilliant first win as Donegal manager over the All-Ireland Champions.
Donegal face Tyrone in Omagh next Sunday, with Tyrone losing 3-11 to 1-12 against Roscommon.
Donegal: Shaun Patton (0-1,45); Mark Curran, Brendan McCole, Caolan Ward, Caolan McColgan (0-3), Stephen McMenamin, Marty O’Reilly; Caolan McGonagle, Jason McGee; Johnny McGroddy (0-1), Daire O Baoill (0-2), Conor O’Donnell (0-3), Hugh McFadden, Patrick McBrearty (0-1), Jamie Brennan (0-1).
Subs: Luke McGlynn (0-1) for McFadden (42 mins), Jeaic McKelvey for McGroddy (64 mins)
Kerry: Shane Murphy; Graham O’Sullivan, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan (0-1), Mike Breen, Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy (0-2); Jack Barry, Barry O’Sullivan; Micheál Burns,Dara Moynihan (1-0), Adrian Spillane, Tony Brosnan, Darragh Roche (0-3), Killian Spillane (0-1).
Subs: Ronan Buckley (0-1) and Padraig Warren for Adrian Spillane and Breen (48 mins), Stefan Okunbor and Donal O’Sullivan (0-1) for Burns and Barry O’Sullivan (55 mins), Greg Horan for Moynihan