A moment of glorious opportunism by a man who rebuilt his season in spectacular style over the last month provided the winning impetus for Kerry, who won their 37th All-Ireland football title in Croke Park yesterday.
Kieran Donaghy struck for Kerry's crucial second goal in the 52nd minute after intercepting a misdirected kick-out from Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan. It put Kerry four points clear and while Donegal later reduced the deficit to a point, they were unable to draw level.
Donaghy was the day's top scorer from open play on 1-2, crowning a superb climax to the season. His introduction as a sub was hugely instrumental as Kerry battled back to earn a draw against Mayo in the semi-final and he was even more influential in his starting role for the replay.
He carried that good form into yesterday's game, often drawing the attention of three Donegal defenders.
It was a desperately disappointing day for Donegal, who functioned in fits and starts only. They were stunned in the opening minutes after conceding 1-1 and while they battled back and actually took the lead early in the second half, they never played with the fluency which shattered Dublin in the semi-final.
While Kerry will be delighted with their first All-Ireland win since 2009, it was not a game which will dwell long in the memory of neutrals in the crowd of 82,184.
The defensive approach by both sides led to a substantial decrease in the scoring rate which applied in most games this season, resulting in the lowest-scoring final for 11 years.
It was double joy for Kerry, who also won the minor final, defeating Donegal by 0-17 to 1-10.
I can say it now. Before the Munster final this year, I went to the bookmakers and had a little punt on Kerry to win the All-Ireland. I still don't know why I did it. Maybe it was a hunch. Or maybe it was nothing more than blind hope.
Jim McGuinness is offered several escapes routes.The blow of conceding what must be one of the fastest, if not the fastest goal ever in an All-Ireland final, the calamity of Paul Durcan's short kick-out which Kieran Donaghy snapped up for a second goal, the absence of luck in the final exchange when Colm McFadden struck an upright, a couple of half goal chances not taken earlier.