Forgotten man comes off the bench to hit late winner as Kerry secure dramatic win over Donegal
Kerry 2-18 Donegal 3-14
Forgotten man Daithi Casey came off the bench to rescue Kerry as they picked off their first Allianz Division One FL points against Donegal in Killarney.
Casey, in the wilderness for the last couple of seasons, built on his impressive Dr Crokes club form to make an impact, scoring a late point after a rollercoaster afternoon.
Almost 11,000 came to Fitzgerald Stadium with curiosity as the Kerry management gave debuts to eight players.
And as debuts go Sean O'Shea had already settled in by the 15th minute when he landed his third point from play, ending the game with seven in all (four frees).
David Clifford had a little more to deal with but his report card featured 1-3 in first-half assists and a point from a free before he was withdrawn in the second half.
There was some nervous kicking from him too and regular physical examinations to deal with but generally his introduction, for someone so young, was positive.
Donegal lost league debutant midfielder Nathan Mullins to a red card in the 19th minute for his involvement in an off the ball incident with Brendan O'Sullivan.
They had lost goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley to injury just before that, Peter Boyle coming on as his replacement.
Mullins' departure came just after Stephen O'Brien grabbed Kerry's first half goal on 18 minutes, Clifford putting him in just as he had done for Keane's earlier brace of points.
Donegal were a little indisciplined and picked up four yellow cards in the half but down to 14 men they held their own with Paddy McBrearty, in particular, showing leadership.
They trailed by 1-8 to 0-8 at the break but were level 90 seconds into the second half when Tony McClenaghan was allowed to ghost in on to McBrearty's pass.
Kerry were able to re-establish some control and led by 1-11 to 1-9 but Donegal exploited a poor home defence to hit them for two goals, from Odhran MacNiallias and Darach O'Connor who was just on the field when he made the most of Hugh McFadden's speculative delivery.
Paul Geaney had blasted a penalty over the bar earlier but Kerry dug in and were rewarded with a Geaney goal prior to O'Connor's late strike that looked set to give Donegal victory when they led by 3-14 to 2-16.
But O'Shea from a 45-metre free and Casey delivered late to save the day for the home side.
Donegal finished with 13 players when McClenaghan was yellow carded for the second time along with Gavin Crowley who also saw red on a double yellow.
Scorers - Kerry: S O'Shea 0-7 (4fs), P Geaney (0-1 pen) 1-2, S O'Brien 1-1, BJ Keane 0-2, R Shanahan, M Burns, G Crowley, K Spillane, D Clifford (f), D Casey all 0-1 each.
Donegal: P McBrearty 0-10 (8fs), O MacNiallais 1-2, D O'Connor, T McClenaghan 1-0 each, S McBrearty, J Brennan 0-1 each.
Kerry: S Murphy; C Coffey, J Foley, S Enright; P Murphy, G Crowley, R Shanahan; Barry O'Sullivan, Brendan O'Sullivan; M Burns, S O Shea, S O'Brien; D Clifford, P Geaney, BJ Keane. Subs: J Savage for Clifford (48), James O'Donoghue for Keane (48), D Casey for Barry O'Sullivan (55), K Spillane for O'Donoghue inj (55), M Flaherty for Coffey (60), B O Seanachain for Burns (68)
Donegal: MA McGinley; S McMenamin, E Ban Gallagher, C Ward; R McHugh, L McLoone, T McClenaghan; H McFadden, N Mullins; M O'Reilly, P Brennan, C McGonigle; P McBrearty, O MacNiallais, J Brennan. Subs: P Boyle for McGinley inj (17), N O'Donnell for J Brennan inj (h-t), C Thompson for McGonigle (45), S McBrearty for O'Reilly (46), J McGee for McLoone (66), D O'Connor for McGee (70).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)
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