A determined Donegal got their campaign off to a winning start with a hard-earned victory over Clare at Cusack Park, Ennis, yesterday.
The men from the north-west were made to fight all the way by a gallant home side and Declan Bonner's men had to dig deep, relying on all their experience.
The visitors opened with a free by Michael Langan (right). Clare quickly struck back and took the lead through captain Gary Brennan and a free by Keelan Sexton. The Banner men spurned the chance to go further ahead as Sexton hit the side netting when a certain goal seemed on.
The remainder of the half was close, with little or nothing between the sides, and when David Tubridy struck for a point on 33 minutes, he levelled matters at 0-8 apiece.
Donegal finished the half in pole position, with injury-time scores by Jason McGee and Niall O'Donnell, to take a 0-10 to 0-8 interval lead.
Clare returned in bullish mood and took the lead through scores from Tubridy (two) and Gary Brennan.
Donegal were off target early in the half, shooting five wides in the opening 10 minutes. Eventually, McGee found his range by the 47th minute to even matters up on the scoreboard.
Three further scores by Caolan McGonagle and a pair of points by James Brennan opened up a three-point lead for Donegal.
Score-wise, Clare went through a barren patch, but still were in contention as the game entered injury-time.
A point by substitute Gavin Cooney left them just 0-14 to 0-13 adrift.
Hugh McFadden and Jason McGee then grabbed a point apiece in time added on to secure victory for Donegal.
Scorers - Donegal: M Langan 0-4 (4f), C Thompson, J Brennan 0-3 each, J McGee 0-2, H McFadden, N O'Donnell, C McGonagle (f), E Bán Gallagher 0-1 each. Clare: D Tubridy 0-6 (3f), G Brennan 0-3, D Coughlan, K Sexton (f), G Cooney, D Ryan 0-1 each.
Donegal - S Patton 7; C Morrison 7, C Ward 7, B McCole 7; P Brennan 8, E Bán Gallagher 7, E Doherty 8; H McFadden 7, J McGee 8; C Thompson 7, R McHugh 7, C McGonagle 7; J Brennan 7, M Langan 7, N O'Donnell 7. Subs: M McElhinney 7 for Brennan (42), L McLoone 7 for McGonagle (56), S McMenamin for McElhinney (65), P Mogan for Doherty (70).
Clare - R Eyres 7; K Harnett 7, C Brennan 7, G Kelly 6; E Collins 6, A Fitzgerald 7, D Ryan 7; G Brennan 8 (Capt), C O'Connor 6; C O'Dea 8, J Malone 6, D Coughlan 7; D Tubridy 8, K Sexton 6, K Malone 6. Subs: P Lillis 6 for E Collins (47), S Collins 6 for K Malone (53), E Tubridy 7 for Eyres inj (59), D Bohannon 6 for J Malone (62), G Cooney for Coughlan (65).
REF - P O'Sullivan (Kerry).