Super 8s: Donegal and Kerry draw in 1-20 to 1-20 thriller

Donegal
The sides could not be separated after 70 enthralling minutes

Kerry and Donegal remain level on points at the top of Super 8s Group One after a thrilling 1-20 to 1-20 draw at Croke Park.

Paul Geaney and Michael Murphy exchanged second half goals as the game ebbed and flowed, with neither side ever leading by more than two points.

Murphy's free with the last kick of the game ensured a point for Donegal.

In the final round of fixtures on 3 August Donegal take on Mayo in Castlebar while Kerry travel to Meath.

Mayo's win over the Royals earlier on Sunday means that no side are assured of a semi-final place, with Meath the only team now out of the running.

While a draw is not the result either side was looking for, both Kerry and Donegal will be pleased with their performance in what was undoubtedly the best game of this year's Super 8s.

Provincial champions refuse to buckle

The key question in inter-provincial football remains whether or not any side is capable of seriously challenging the dominance of Dublin.

While Sunday's encounter between the Munster and Ulster champions does not give a conclusive answer, the quality of the game suggests that the opposition Dublin will face over the rest of the summer is considerably better than it has been for several years.

In a first half of fine margins, Shaun Patton brilliantly denied David Clifford's goal-bound effort after the 2018 All-Star drifted into space.

Kerry's front three of Clifford, Geaney and Stephen O'Brien were a constant threat as the Kingdom sought to take advantage of the absence of Donegal stalwarts Paddy McGrath and Neil McGee by launching early balls forward.

Clifford
David Clifford was brilliantly denied by Shaun Patton in the ninth minute

However for the most part Donegal's defence coped manfully, with O'Brien posing the biggest threat with direct and purposeful running resulting in a pair of wonderful first half scores.

Both sides were dealt a blow late in the first half as Kerry skipper Gavin White and Donegal's Niall O'Donnell were black carded for separate offences.

Donegal's 'big three' come to the fore

There were concerns that the absence of the influential Eoghan Ban Gallagher may have blunted Donegal's attack, however the Tir Chonaill men showed no signs of slowing down in their forward play.

Once again captain Michael Murphy led the way, ably assisted by relentless Kilcar duo Ryan McHugh and Patrick McBrearty, who continued to live up to their billing as Donegal's reliable source of inspiration.

After Geaney capitalised on a mix-up between Ciaran Thompson and Caolan Ward to drill beyond Patton, McHugh drove forward to tee up Daire O Baill who was bundled over by Stephen O'Brien.

Murphy, on his way to 1-7, stepped up to convert and put Donegal back in front.

As the game entered its final 10 minutes, it became clear that neither side was going to pull away.

Michael Murphy
Murphy secured a point for Donegal in the final minute of play

Jason Foley fisted over in the 69th minute to nudge Kerry ahead only for Oisin Gallen and Murphy to score twice in 30 seconds as the pendulum swung once again.

Again though, Kerry refused to lie down or even settle for a point as Geaney and Paul Murphy put them in front with a minute of injury time remaining.

After substitute Tomas O Se was sent off, Donegal made one last venture forward and Murphy stepped up to land the final score.

Kerry: S Ryan; J Foley (0-1), T Morley, T O'Sullivan (0-1); P Murphy (0-1), G Crowley, G White; S Enright, D O'Connor; A Spillane, S O'Shea (0-4, 3f), K Spillane (0-3); D Clifford (0-3, 1f), P Geaney (1-4), S O'Brien (0-3).

Subs: B Kelly, D Moran, J Sherwood, M Griffin, M Burns, T Walsh, B O Beaglaoich, G O'Sullivan, K Young, J Lyne, T O Se.

Donegal: S Patton; O McFadden-Ferry, E Doherty, S McMenamin; R McHugh (0-2), C Ward, E McHugh; H McFadden, J McGee (0-1); C Thompson, N O'Donnell (0-1), J Brennan; P McBrearty (0-5, 3f), M Murphy (1-7, 4f), M Langan (0-2).

Subs: P Durcan, F McGlynn, L McLoone, P Brennan, N McGee, E McGettigan, C Diver, D O Baoill, B McCole, O Gallen (0-2), C McGonagle.