Dublin's Paul Flynn in action against Jonathan Lyne of Kerry during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 5 match. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
But the home side got a second wind and looked to have done enough to finally beat the Dubs until an error gave visiting substitute Paul Mannion the chance to kick a dramatic equalising point.
Kerry set the pace right from the start. They got into the Dublin faces and their work-rate was ferocious as the contest quickly turned into a dogfight. The home side were content to break any momentum Dublin attempted to build by continually fouling.
Kerry's Peter Crowley finally opened the scoring with a ninth-minute point after he raced through from a pass from David Moran, before Paul Geaney doubled their advantage with a monster point two minutes later.
The home side were rock solid with their re-starts and had Dublin under serious pressure in the middle third of the field. But Kerry suffered a big blow after just 15 minutes when corner-back Shane Enright was forced to withdraw through injury.
Kerry's Jack Barry battles it out with Dublin's Michael Fitzsimons. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Kerry's Tadhg Morley and Dublin's Ciaran Kilkenny were booked for an off-the-ball incident as Jim Gavin's men struggled to make an impact, and moments later Stephen Cluxton and Geaney joined them following another fracas. The tenacity of the Kerry approach had the visitors rattled.
But they finally snaffled a Kerry kickout in the 25th minute with Eric Lowndes winning the breaking ball and Conor McHugh kicking the side's first point from play with his left foot in his first significant contribution.
The game continued to be dominated by frees and off-the-ball incidents - by the break seven players had been booked, while Adrian Spillane needed medical attention for another incident, though the Dublin culprit were unpunished.
Kerry's persistent fouling was punished, though, when Dean Rock kicked three frees on the spin after fouls on Paddy Andrews, Shane Carthy and Davy Byrne to give Dublin the lead for the first time in the 34th minute.
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Dublin manager Jim Gavin exchange a handshake after the match. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Kerry could have had a goal on the stroke of the break but Cluxton stood up and denied Geaney after excellent approach by midfielder Jack Berry to leave the sides level 0-5 each at the break.
Dublin introduced Cian O'Sullivan at the start of the second half, with the experienced Stephen O'Brien replacing Jack Savage. After Geaney missed a long free, Dublin stole the subsequent kickout and then conceded a free which the full-forward nailed to restore Kerry's lead.
The visitors were under serious pressure now, with three of Cluxton's first four kickouts being won by Kerry, who were now motoring with Moran and O'Brien making big impacts. Points from Geaney, Moran and Kevin McCarthy put the home side four clear after 45 minutes.
Dublin emptied the bench, introducing Paul Flynn, Kevin McManamon and Eoghan O'Gara, while Mannion replaced the injury John Small. Flynn, in particular, was influential in launching the revival and the visitors were desperately unlucky not to score a goal in the 51st minute when McHugh's pile-driver was brilliant blocked on the goal-line by Mark Griffin and Brendan Kealy saved Brian Fenton's rebound effort.
But a brace of Rock frees followed by sweet points from McHugh and O'Gara had Dublin level after 54 minutes, and just 11 minutes after falling four points behind Rock's ninth free had them a point ahead with 15 minutes left.
Rock doubled their advantage before Geaney hit back with two frees to level the tie before substitute Barry John Keane edged Kerry ahead in a terrific second half.
Rock missed a 68th-minute free as Bernard Brogan made his seasonal appearance.
Donnchadh Walsh made it a two-point game as the game ticked into injury time but a Rock free left the minimum between the sides. Then an error from Paul Murphy gave Dublin an unexpected reprieve at the death and Mannion kicked the equaliser. Kilkenny was sent off after a cynical foul on
Moran before the end but Kerry couldn't get the ball up the field and the contest finished all square.
Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, M Fitzsimons, D Byrne; D Daly, J Small, E Lowndes; B Fenton, MD Macauley; N Scully, D Rock (0-9, 9f), SB Carthy; C Kilkenny, P Andrews, C McHugh (0-2). Subs: C O'Sullivan for D Byrne ht; Paul Flynn for Scully 43m; K McManamon for Macauley 44m; E O'Gara (0-1) for Andrews 48m; P Mannion (0-1) for Small 49m; B Brogan for McHugh 68m
Kerry: B Kealy (0-1, 45); S Enright, M Griffin, R Shanahan; T Morley, P Crowley (0-1), K Young; D Moran (0-1), J Barry; A Spillane, P Murphy, D Walsh (0-1); K McCarthy(0-1), P Geaney (0-7, 4fs), J Savage. Subs: J Lyne for Enright 16m; S O'Brien for Savage ht; BJ Keane (0-1) for Spillane 52m; A Maher for Barry 54m;; D O'Sullivan for McCarthy 61m; M Geaney for Young 61m;