Two golden goal chances, two blinding saves by Rathmore 'keeper Kenneth O'Keeffe, and Galbally's All-Ireland challenge drifted closer to the rocks.
Enda McGarrity and Daniel Kerr both saw their efforts kept out by O'Keeffe at Croke Park – big moments in a contest that always seemed to be slipping out of the grasp of the Tyrone champions.
Skipper Aidan Carberry agonised over those decisive incidents, and their significance on his club's big day.
Just three points separated the sides at the end, but it was the Kerry side that claimed the All-Ireland Club IFC title.
"On other days Dan and Enda would have put those away," said Carberry. "Things like that gave them [Rathmore] life, made them feel like it was their day. But there's no shame in that. Sometimes that's the way football goes."
Carberry's pride in his team-mates was undiminished by this devastating climax to a character-building run through Tyrone, Ulster, and the All-Ireland series.
"When we do look back, we have to be very proud of what we have achieved this year. We're proud of what we have done, proud of how we have taken the club on a journey to Croke Park.
"We're disappointed at the way it has turned out, disappointed at not being able to put in our best performance in a final."
The Pearse's will take some time off ahead of their return to senior football in the Red Hand county, a fresh challenge offering renewed opportunity to a talented young team.
"That was the main aim from the start of the year, to get up to senior, and obviously we wanted to do it by winning the Championship.
"Next season is about performing as well in senior, and establishing ourselves as a good senior club, which we believe we are.
"That's going to take a lot of hard work, the same amount and more that was put in this year. We'll take a good break, re-group, and hopefully go as strong again.
"The best way to prepare for senior football is to train right through, that's nearly a full year of training
"We have won a Tyrone Championship, won an Ulster Championship, the boys have put in a lot of effort.
"We felt we deserved more, but sometimes you just don't get what you deserve."
Shane Ryan's 23rd minute goal had Galbally chasing the game, four points down at half-time, a gap that stretched to six in the early stages of the second half, but they never lost their spirit, and were hunting a leveller right to the dying moments.
"We're proud of the way we never lay down," said Carberry. "It's hard chasing a game, especially in Croke Park with so much space.
"We kept fighting, we still believed right to the end, but it wasn't our day in the end-up."
A special occasion for the Galbally community never lost its party atmosphere, the fans supportive to the end and beyond.
"The support has been brilliant. Everybody has got behind us. It was a great weekend building up to it, and we couldn't have been any more well prepared. The club did everything in their power to have us as well prepared as they could.
"We're disappointed that we couldn't give the supporters the win they deserved, but I'm sure they're proud of us, and we're proud of them."