Offaly 2-17 Kerry 2-18
Kerry produced the shock of the season so far to claim their first victory over Offaly in 60 years at Birr in Division 1B this afternoon.
Kerry did not lead for the first time until 14 minutes from the end but they then had the character to hold out in a dramatic finish to a thrilling encounter.
Unfortunately for Kerry, the win was not enough for them to secure a quarter-final spot and they now must regroup and prepare to face off against Laois in a relegation play-off.
Kerry had not beaten Offaly in the league since recording only their second win over them way back in the 1956/57 season and initial signs were net promising for the Kingdom.
Offaly's Shane Dooley pointed an early free and then Joe Bergin soloed through to blast a superb shot to the roof of the net after three minutes, with another Dooley free making it 1-02 to 0-00 after just five minutes.
A Colin Egan point and two more from Dooley made it 1-05 to 0-02 at the end of the opening quarter, with Mikey Boyle and John Egan responding for Kerry.
Kerry improved as the game progressed with corner-forwards Jordan Conway and Egan looking sharp.
Egan landed six points, five of them frees, in the opening half with Conway hitting two excellent efforts.
But the accuracy of Dooley kept Offaly in front with the Tullamore man shooting 0-08 in the opening half, five of them frees and one from a superb sideline cut on the left.
Offaly led by 1-09 to 0-05 eight minutes from the break but two quick points from Conway and an Egan effort from play cut the gap to four, with the sides twice exchanging points before the break.
That left Offaly leading by 1-11 to 0-10 at the interval, with Dooley and Bergin extending the lead with points in the opening two minutes of the second-half.
But then Egan soloed through and blasted home a superb goal to give Kerry a huge boost.
Egan and Mikey Boyle added scores to cut the gap to just a point, but then Offaly struck a major blow when James Mulrooney broke through to fire to the net from the left.
But Kerry were unfazed. Egan hit a free and then Colum Harty soloed through to drill a low shot to the net to level the sides at 2-13 apiece after 48 minutes.
Kerry hit the front for the first time in the game eight minutes later when Conway pointed, setting up a thrilling final quarter where the lead changed hands three times.
Two points from Dooley edged Offaly back in front, then John Griffin and Egan responded to give Kerry the lead again seven minutes from time.
Another Dooley free levelled a minute after that but Egan and Shane Nolan landed points to put Kerry two ahead two minutes from the end of normal time.
Dooley cut the gap to the minimum going into four minutes of stoppage time but they were unable to snatch a draw and Kerry held on for a famous win, even if it wasn’t enough in the end to secure a shock quarter-final spot.
Kerry: A McCabe; B Murphy, P Kelly, K Carmody; J Diggins, D Dineen, T Murnane; D Collins, J Griffin (0-02); B O’Leary, M O’Leary, J Buckley; J Conway (0-03), M Boyle (0-02), J Egan (1-10, 0-09f).
Subs: C Harty (1-00) for Buckley (35 mins), S Nolan (0-01) for B O’Leary (54 mins), T Casey for Diggins (58 mins), S Weir for Kelly (63 mins), P Lucid for Griffin (70 mins).
Offaly: J Dempsey; N Wynne, C McDonald, P Rigney; P Camon, C Doughan, D Shortt; S Kinsella, S Ryan (0-01); P Murphy, C Egan (0-01), J Mulrooney (1-01); S Dooley (0-13, 0-08f, 0-01 sideline, 0-01 ’65)), J Bergin (1-01), S Cleary.
Subs: J Sampson for Murphy (32 mins), C Kiely for Cleary (42 mins), K Connolly for Kinsella (52 mins), S Connolly for Wynne (55 mins), P Guinan for Ryan (64 mins).
Referee: J Keane (Galway).