Despite gifting a goal to Kerry in the opening half, Donegal stood strong in the second half and new captain Patrick McBrearty stepped up deep in added time with his only score of the game to give the hosts a narrow victory in their Allianz League Division 1 clash in Ballybofey.

It was the perfect start for new manager, Paddy Carr, who started with three league debutants in Mark Curran, Caolan McColgan and Johnny McGroddy, while another Luke McGlynn came on in the second half.

Kerry, short all of their starting All-Ireland final forward line, still took a strong squad on their trip north.

The strong wind was accompanied by rain by throw-in with Kerry having the elements at their back.

The opening quarter was very even with Darragh Roche and Paul Murphy with points for Kerry while Caolan McColgan and Dáire Ó Baoill replied for Donegal.

But Donegal then gifted Kerry a goal after a short kick-out went wrong. Brendan McCole lost possession and with Shaun Patton away from goal, Dara Moynihan availed of the easiest score he will ever have.

Tom O'Sullivan and Killian Spillane added to the Kerry lead with Conor O’Donnell finding the range for Donegal. A couple of turnovers led to two good Dara Roche points for a 1-06 to 0-03 lead.

Kerry's Barry O'Sullivan and Jason Foley keeping tabs on Hugh McFadden

But Donegal showed some spirit in the final minutes with three points from Conor O’Donnell, Caolan McColgan and Johnny McGroddy while Dáire Ó Baoill was just wide of the Kerry posts after a run from midfield. The Kingdom led by three at the break.

Kerry at a couple of wides at the start of the second half before Donegal had a purple patch with points from Dáire Ó Baoill , Conor O’Donnell, Jamie Brennan and substitute Luke McGlynn.

Paul Murphy levelled but Shaun Patton fired Donegal ahead from a '45’. As the game reached the final 10 minutes Ruairi Murphy had Kerry back on terms but they were wide with a couple of chances.

League debutant Caolan McColgan came forward to land his third point and the lead again for Donegal with five minutes of normal time left.

In added time Donal O’Sullivan fisted an equaliser but in the fourth minute of added time captain McBrearty stepped up to the mark to give his side a famous victory.

Donegal: Shaun Patton (0-01,’45’); Mark Curran, Brendan McCole, Caolan Ward; Caolan McColgan (0-03), Stephen McMenamin, Marty O’Reilly; Caolan McGonagle, Jason McGee; Johnny McGroddy (0-01), Dáire Ó Baoill (0-02), Conor O’Donnell (0-03); Hugh McFadden, Patrick McBrearty (0-01), Jamie Brennan (0-01).

Subs: Luke McGlynn (0-01) for H McFadden (42); Jeaic Mac Ceallabuí for McGroddy (63)

Kerry: Shane Murphy; Graham O’Sullivan, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan (0-01); Mike Breen, Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy (0-02); Jack Barry, Barry O’Sullivan; Micheal Burns, Dara Moynihan (1-00), Adrian Spillane; Tony Brosnan, Darragh Roche 0-03), Killian Spillane (0-01).

Subs: Ruairi Murphy (0-01) for A Spillane; Pa Warren for M Breen (both 47); Donal O’Sullivan (0-01) for M Burns; Stefan Okunbor for B O’Sullivan (both 57); Greg Horan for Moynihan (61).

Referee: Liam Devenney (Mayo)

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