Mayo 0-15 Kerry 1-6
Mayo defeated Kerry at McHale Park with some ease in the end, but for long periods the beaten All-Ireland finalists struggled to contain their 14-man opponents, who had Anthony Maher sent off.
Jason Doherty fired over six points, with Kevin McLoughlin and Michael Conroy hitting three each to convince manager James Horan that he really has a cutting edge to his attack this year, with Andy Moran still to come back in.
Kerry failed to score in the second half, a statistic that will have seriously dismayed new manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice in his first league game in charge.
Mayo were fastest to find the pace of the game in the opening quarter, racing into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
All of those scores coming from full forward Jason Doherty, who opened with a point from play before converting three frees.
Kerry’s only point in the first 15 minutes came from Michael O’Donoghue, making his league debut.
But the Kingdom put a sluggish opening behind them to get themselves right back in contention at the end of the opening quarter.
Darran O’Sullivan’s skill and touch set up James O’Donoghue, but his shot was superbly saved by David Clarke.
O’Donoghue had another chance with the rebound, but this time his effort was deflected away for a ’45, which Johnny Buckley drilled between the posts.
In the 17th minute, O’Donoghue finally grabbed the goal he deserved, darting between two defenders to beat Clarke with a low shot which went in at the base of a post.
Michael O’Donoghue and O’Sullivan were on target to keep Kerry ahead until the closing 10 minutes of the half, when Michael Conroy slotted over two excellent points in the space of a minute to bring the home side level.
They were deadlocked on four occasions as Anthony Maher, with a long-range effort, and Conor Cox swapped points with Doherty and Kevin McLoughlin.
They were level on 0-9 to 1-6 at the interval, and Kerry found themselves under pressure once more at the beginning of the second half, coughing up frees which were punished by McLoughlin and Doherty.
The Munster men suffered a blow in the 49th minute when midfielder Maher walked after picking up a second yellow card.
In a scrappy and fractious 16-minute spell which produced a rash of bookings, and not a single score, the 14-man Kingdom held their own, until Conroy launched his third score of the afternoon to get the westerners going again.
Mayo full back Ger Cafferkey repeatedly frustrated Kerry’s attacking efforts, and they were unable to break down a tenacious Mayo attack.
The home side saw off their opponents with a late flourish which saw Enda Varley come off the bench to shoot a couple of points.
Mayo: D Clarke, S McHale, G Cafferkey, K Higgins,T Cunniffe, C Boyle, C Barrett, A O'Shea, S O'Shea, L Keegan, R Feeney (0-1), C Freeman, K McLoughlin (0-3, 2f), J Doherty (0-6, 5f), M Conroy (0-3).
Subs: A Freeman for C Freeman, B Moran for S O’Shea, E Varley (0-2) for Feeney
Kerry: B Kealy, M O Se, A O'Mahony, S Enright, J Lyne, P Crowley, K Young, A Maher (0-1), J Buckley (0-1, ’45), M Geaney, D O'Sullivan (0-1), M O'Donoghue (0-2), J O’Donoghue (1-0), P Curtin, C Cox (0-1).
Subs: BJ Keane for Cox, B Sheehan for Geaney, S O’Carroll for M O’Donoghue.
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).