Derry's long trip to the Kingdom was profitable as they edged out Kerry on a 0-16 to 0-14 scoreline in their Allianz FL clash in Killarney.
A Barry John Keane brace had the Kingdom - losers to Dublin last weekend - leading 0-03 to 0-00.
But they had Peter Crowley black-carded before Ciaran McGoldrick and James Kielt pointed Derry into a 0-07 to 0-06 half-time lead.
Successive points at two vital stages in the second half kept Brian McIver's men ahead, with Charlie Kielt and Mark Lynch sealing the result.
No one in the Derry camp will be getting carried away yet, but after a promising opening-day draw against Tyrone, McIver's side took a huge step towards retaining their top flight status with this two-point success.
All the pre-season talk about the gap that Eoin Bradley's absence would leave seems to have inspired Emmett McGuckin. The Magherafelt man turned in an outstanding hour at full-forward and gave Derry the tip of an attack that took some sublime scores.
A Derry win seemed unlikely after five minutes. Electing to play man for man at the back against a strong breeze, the Oak Leaf full-back line looked a shade exposed.
After their fine start, and despite a good performance from David Moran in the centre, the hosts began to lose their way and the possession game of McIver's outfit grew.
Mark Lynch (free), Sean Leo McGoldrick and Enda Lynn all pointed to draw Derry level before Peter Crowley picked up a black card as he hit Lynch late.
Crowley appeared to have committed to the tackle and was unable to pull out, but referee Conor Lane deemed it deliberate contact.
Debutant Kevin Johnston got on the scoresheet to put Derry ahead and although the sides were twice level again at 0-04 and 0-05 apiece, the end of the first half belonged to the visitors.
James Kielt hit two fine points after Ciaran McGoldrick had sneaked in to fist Derry ahead. Corner forward Cox landed the final score of the half for Kerry to leave just a point in it at the interval.
It was a gap that the Kingdom could only bridge once over the remainder of the game. When Jonathan Lyne and O'Donoghue pointed to make it 0-09 apiece, Derry responded with three scores on the bounce.
With Chrissy McKaigue getting the upper hand on O'Donoghue, Kerry were reliant on Cox's frees to stay in touch at times. They lost Paul Murphy, who had played well at corner-back, to a black card for a cynical trip on Fergal Doherty.
Kerry had a Keane effort that looked inside the post flagged wide at a crucial stage and Stephen O'Brien flashed a late chance over with a goal between the sides.
Kerry pushed on to try and pull it back but Michael Geaney and Aidan O'Mahony both kicked wide from scoreable positions as Derry held on for a famous victory.
Kerry: B Kelly; P Murphy, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, B McGuire, J Sherwood (0-01); A Maher, D Moran; J Lyne (0-01), S O'Brien (0-01), D Walsh; BJ Keane (0-03, 0-02f), J O'Donoghue (0-01), C Cox (0-07, 0-04f).
Subs used: D Culhane for Crowley (black card, 17 mins), P Geaney for BJ Keane (42), M Geaney for Sherwood (52), A O’Mahony for Maher (59), P Kilkenny for Murphy (black card, 65).
Derry: T Mallon; D Brown, C McKaigue, D McBride; G O’Kane, M Lynch (0-04, 0-03f), A McAlynn; F Doherty, N Holly; SL McGoldrick (0-02), J Kielt (0-02, 0-01f), E Lynn (0-02); K Johnston (0-01), E McGuckin (0-03), C McGoldrick (0-01).
Subs used: D Mullan for C McGoldrick, B Heron (0-01) for Johnston (both 51 mins), C Kielt for McAlynn (57), C McFaul for Lynn, C O’Boyle for McGuckin (both 70).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).