Donegal finally got their season up and running when they squeezed past St Mary's in Ballybofey.
The teams were playing to avoid the wooden spoon, with the All-Ireland champions again fielding their second string, giving a debut to 18-year-old Eoin McHugh.
The sides were evenly matched, with Odhran Mac Niallais excelling for Donegal in the first half, notching 1-3.
Brendan Herron was equally impressive for St Mary's and he finished the half with 1-4, his goal from a penalty, while Ronan Sexton's strike just before the break left the college side ahead by 2-5 to 1-7 at the interval.
St Mary's pushed three clear in the second half, but late points from Ross Wherity and Conor Gibbons gave Donegal a slender win.
Scorers – Donegal: O Mac Niallais 1-3, J O'Malley 0-4 (3f), C Gibbons (1f), L Keaney 0-2 each, P Mailey, S McGarvey, R Wherity 0-1 each.
St Mary's: B Herron 1-5 (1-0 pen, 2f), R Sexton 1-2 (1f), B Hasson, S O'Neill, B Doyle 0-1 each
Donegal – P Boyle; P Carr, C Ward, A O'Gara; E McHugh, K McFadden, C Gallagher; L Keaney, C Cannon; P Mailey, J Carroll, M Cannon; O Mac Niallais, R Wherity, J O'Malley. Subs: C Gibbons for M Cannon (29), S McGarvey for Carroll (h-t), W Gillespie for Mac Niallais (48), J Campbell for P Carr (59)
St Mary's – D McAnenly; S Mullan, A Maguire, M Murray; R Loughran, C O'Hara, B Doyle; R O'Callaghan, B Hasson; R Sexton, B Herron, N Sludden; D McKinless, S O'Neill, J Duffy. Subs: C McMahon for Duffy (47), B O'Hagan for O'Callaghan (58), A McGarrity for Sexton (58), R McParland for Doyle (68)
Ref – D Connolly (Monaghan)