The old saying that goals win games was never more prevalent than on Sunday in Croke Park when the men from the Kingdom hit Donegal with two sucker punches at crucial times to claim their first All Ireland since 2009.
Paul Geaney hit the net inside a minute when he collected an attempted point from Stephen O’Brien and fired past Paul Durcan.
A Kieran Donaghy point three minutes later had Kerry four in front before Donegal finally managed to settle into the game.
Michael Murphy pointed a free in the sixth minute and followed it up with another six minutes later to cut the deficit to two points.
Paul Geaney then sent over a free for Kerry although Murphy again hit back almost immediately with his third free of the game. A close range free from
Colm McFadden then put the minimum between the sides before Darach O Connor came within inches of making himself a Donegal hero.
The Buncrana youngster picked up a pass from Rory Kavanagh before getting in behind the Kerry defence and seeing his shot hit the legs of keeper Kelly and go agonisingly wide of the far post.
Kerry then missed a goal chance of their own when Geaney fired inches over when he should’ve hit the net.
Donegal went in level at the break thanks to scores from Odhran MacNiallais and Karl Lacey and it was all to play for in the second period.
Michael Murphy put his side ahead for the first time with a tremendous score from play although Kerry responded with a fine point from half back Paul Murphy off the outside of his right boot.
The game was very much in the balance at this stage and both teams failed to add anything to the scoreboard for twelve minutes before Kerry eventually took the lead through a BJ Keane close range free.
The resulting kick out turned out to be the turning point in the game. Paul Durcan somehow found Kieran Donaghy who galloped forward before firing past the Donegal netminder to give Kerry a four point lead.
To their credit Donegal hit back with three unanswered points from Paddy McBrearty (2) and a brilliant kick from full back Neil McGee again leaving the minimum between the sides.
Johnny Buckley responded for Kerry with a point from play before Keane added his second free and Donaghy fisted over to give Kerry a four point lead again. Substitute Dermot Molloy pointed for Donegal to leave a kick of a ball between the sides and Donegal almost forced a replay in the dying moments of injury time.
Michael Murphy barged his way through before the ball fell to McBrearty whose initial shot was blocked before Colm McFadden’s effort rebounded off the butt of the post and away to safety as far as Kerry were concerned. The full time whistle went moments later and Kerry were All Ireland champions for the 37th time.