Fractious encounter sees Kingdom end Donegal's 100pc record
Kerry 1-13 Donegal 1-8
Published 06/03/2016 | 17:24
Kerry showed much second half resolve to claim a second successive Allianz Division One league win in Austin Stack Park in Tralee.
Donegal looked well placed to maintain their unbeaten run when they closed a four-point interval gap, 0-7 to 0-3, within seven minutes of the restart on the back of a strengthening wind.
Buoyed by a vociferous home support in the 7,056 attendance Kerry dug deep and hit the next three scores, Peter Crowley's goal after great approach work from Bryan Sheehan and Kieran Donaghy on 45 minutes giving them real impetus.
Kerry stretched their lead to six points one stage with man of the match Donnchadh Walsh, Darran O'Sullivan, Paul Murphy, Sheehan and Fionn Fitzgerald all giving them solid control through that passage.
But a misplaces crossfield pass from Colm Cooper that flew out on the wind over the sideline was costly with Neil Gallagher's subsequent delivery caught and finished by Michael Murphy inside in the 57th minute.
That should have been Donegal's cue to press on but they met fierce resistance from a home side determined not to be pushed around and to preserve a record against their visitors that stretches back to 1988.
It was cynical and ugly scrap that spilled over several times, Kerry particularly sailing close to the edge too often.
The game was only a few minutes old when the first flashpoint erupted and several players engaged following a throw-in between Michael Murphy and Kieran Donaghy.
No action was taken but as play developed further upfield Kerry full-forward Alan Fitzgerald struck Neil McGee in reaction to his marker grabbing his hand and appearing to twist it in a tussle.
McGee went off with a bloodied face, Fitzgerald was sent off on a straight red card and things did settle with both free-takers Bryan Sheehan and Michael Murphy doing most to advance the scores.
Sheehan kicked five (including a 45) in the first half with Donnchadh Walsh adding two fisted efforts for a 0-7 to 0-3 lead.
But there was further attrition with Shane Enright and newcomer Denis Dalywere both black-carded within seconds of each other.
It remained highly charged and when more trouble flared on the stand side Leo McLoone was sent off to reduce both teams to 14 men.
Sheehan finished with eight points while Walsh fisted over three as Kerry hauled themselves to a safer position.
Scorers - Kerry: B Sheehan 0-8 (7fs 1 45), D Walsh 0-3, P Crowley 1-0, BJ Keane, C Cooper 0-1 each.
Donegal: M Murphy 1-4 (0-4fs), P McBrearty 0-3 (2fs), N Gallagher 0-1.
Donegal: P Boyle; E Doherty, N McGee, P McGrath; E Gallagher, R McHugh, A Thompson; R Kavanagh, M Murphy; M O'Reilly, H McFadden, E McHugh; O MacNiallais, P McBrearty, L McLoone. Subs: N Gallagher for McFadden, M McElhinney for Doherty (ht), C Toye for Thompson (56)
Kerry: B Kelly; M O Se, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, A O'Mahony, F Fitzgerald; K Donaghy, B Sheehan; D Walsh, P Murphy, D Daly; D O'Sullivan, A Fitzgerald, S O'Brien. Subs: P O'Connor for Enright BC (27), C Cooper for Daly BC (27). J Buckley for Donaghy (60), BJ Keane for O'Brien (60), B O'Sullivan for Crowley (67), A Walsh for D O'Sullivan (71)
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).