David Clifford’s stoppage time goal rescued Kerry and kept their All-Ireland dream alive as they fought back to earn a 1-17 to 1-17 draw with Monaghan in a Clones thriller.
The Super 8s will go all the way to the final day, but Kerry’s fate is out of their own hands, and a draw with already qualified Galway will be enough to send the Farney men past the quarter-final stage for the first time.
They appeared to have the job done at St Tiernach’s Park, where they led for more than 70 minutes, only to be caught by a late sucker punch, not for the first time this season.
Conor McManus was on fire for the Ulster men with a 1-09 haul, while goalkeeper Rory Beggan nailed four long range frees, but the Kingdom, fighting desperately for survival, hung in there and got their reward right at the death.
Sean O’Shea (0-08) had kept them in touch with his place-kicking, and a few glimpses of Clifford magic played a big part in their gutsy battle back from five points behind with five minutes of normal time to play.
The Kingdom had trailed throughout, right until the fourth minute of stoppage time, but Clifford’s brilliant finish tied it up.
The game was barely a minute old when Kieran Duffy pumped a long ball from deep inside his own half in the direction of McManus, who skipped around marker Mark Griffin and steered his low shot past Brian Kelly in the Kerry goal.
The former All-Star slotted over a point, and the Kingdom were already reeling.
Paul Geaney, David Clifford and Kieran Donaghy struggled to make an impact up front, as Farney warriors Drew Wylie, Vinny Corey and Colin Walshe stood firm.
It was left to Sean O’Shea to use his place-kicking expertise to keep the Munster men in the game.
He steered a couple of frees between the posts, but Monaghan always looked dangerous going forward, and scores from Niall Kearns and Darren Hughes had them 1-5 to 0-4 ahead by the 20 minute mark.
McManus was in flying form, Griffin still tasked to curtail the Clontibret genius as the half wore on and he brought his tally to 1-06, 1-03 of that from play.
And the home side had another potent scoring weapon in goalkeeper Rory Beggan, who thumped over three monster free, the shortest of them from 50 metres, the longest an outrageous 63 metre effort.
His kick-outs were also of the highest order, finding his men with a variety of restarts, while Kelly was pressurised into going long at the other end, giving Monaghan the chance to contest 50-50 possession, often successfully.
Late in the half, teenager Clifford die manage to get some joy from the possession provided by Donaghy and Tom O’Sullivan, knocking over two points, one of them a fine example of his undoubted genius.
O’Shea’s seventh score narrowed the gap to two, but Monaghan finished the half strongly with McManus and Beggan on target for a 1-11 to 0-10 interval lead.
Kerry were on the brink, and they came out fighting, hitting the first three scores of the second half to narrow the gap to one,
Tom O’Sullivan pressed forward to pick off his second, and David Moran landed a tidy score, but they were soon on the back foot again as McManus and Beggan continued to find the range.
David Moran stepped up his game at midfield, but when flying wing back Karl O’Connell darted forward for a point, Monaghan led by five.
With five minutes to play, Kerry started to get some joy from direct long ball towards Donaghy, and scores from Anthony Maher, Clifford and Stephen O’Brien had them right in it.
They appeared to have left it too late, however, when substitute James O’Donoghue fed Clifford for a brilliant angled finish from a tight angle.
Monaghan: R Beggan (0-04, 4f); K Duffy, D Wylie, R Wylie; C Walshe, V Corey, K O'Connell (0-01); N Kearns (0-01), D Hughes (0-01); R McAnespie, S Carey (0-01), D Malone; C McCarthy, F Kelly, C McManus (1-09, 5f).
Subs: K Hughes for McCarthy (43), O Duffy for Carey (57), D Mone for Kelly (67)
Kerry: B Kelly: R Shanahan, M Griffin, T O'Sullivan (0-02); P Murphy (0-01), P Crowley, G White; D Moran (0-01), J Barry; K McCarthy, S O'Shea (0-08, 6f, 1 ’45), S O'Brien (0-01, f); D Clifford (1-03), P Donaghy, P Geaney.
Subs: M Burns for McCarthy (h-t), J O’Donoghue for Geaney (49), B O Beaglaoich for Griffin (51), D O’Sullivan for O’Shea (54), A Maher (0-01) for Barry (63), Geaney for O’Sullivan (71)
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).