"It's completely gutting to have held onto something for such a large part of the game and to probably have been the better side until that smash right at the end - it's heartbreaking," admitted Kearney.
"Sport can be so cruel and I think we were on the end of the receiving end of that cruelty. Sides are always remembered for the final result on the scoreboard regardless of what kind of rugby was played.
"It could have been a very special day for us but the likelihood is it will be remembered with every other loss for the Lions."
The Lions now move on to Johannesburg to play for pride in the third and final Test at Coca Cola Park. With the Ospreys' full back Lee Byrne now back home in Wales after damaging his hand, Kearney is guaranteed a start on Saturday against the world champions.
"I was happy with how I played but I think from 1 to 15 the boys dug really deep and performed really well. I suppose that that's what makes things just harder to take," added Kearney.
"When guys are playing out of their skins, and putting in some fantastic performances, to fall just short is heartbreaking. We know South Africa play a physical game and probably two of our key guys in the centre took the brunt of that.
"It was unfortunate to lose those guys. But we will pick ourselves up now and a 2-1 defeat will be much better than 3-0."