Donegal kicked off their Dr. McKenna Cup campaign with a 1-13 to 2-08 win over Down in MacCumhaill Park.
Donegal just about edged past the inexperienced Down side who gave them plenty of trouble despite having 9 debutants in their starting team.
Two debutants in the home starting side came for Charlie McGuinness of Naomh Conaill and St.Eunan’s man Shane O’Donnell.
Tony McClenaghan’s goal proved vital but a late scare put Down ahead through an Odhran Murdoch goal.
Donegal quickly responded with 2 points from Ciaran Thompson then Peadar Mogan put Donegal ahead with 65 minutes on the clock. Donegal kept the ball well and Paddy McBrearty sealed the win with a late free in the 74th minute.
The game started slow as Down kept possession and took the lead after 5 minutes through a Barry O’Hagan free out left.
Donegal responded quickly after good play from Paddy McBrearty and Michael Langan played in Conor O’Donnell who slotted over the bar with his weaker foot.
McBrearty then capitalised on a poor kickout and fired over the bar after a quick 1-2 with Eoin Ban Gallagher.
Down replied again through a O’Hagan free in an almost identical position.
Debutants Charlie McGuinness and Shane O’Donnell combined as the former played it through to the latter who fisted over the bar.
For the third time in the game O’Hagan scored a free from out left but this time the angle was more difficult but Donegal went in to the water break a point up thanks to a Langan free.
Declan Bonner’s side raced into a four point lead as McBrearty and Langan got their second points from play before McBrearty scored a free to make it 0-07 to 0-03.
Down responded 5 minutes later as Andrew Gilmore netted and a Pat Havern free got them level.
Donegal went into half-time ahead through another McBrearty free and Peadar Mogan scored his first point of the game, 0-09 to 1-04.
Langan scored a free from the left and Donegal had a goal chance through McBrearty but his effort went wide. O’Hagan got his first from play after a quick break when referee Sean Hurson threw the ball back in to play.
Down had a big goal chance but Brendan McCole did brilliant to block Havern’s effort. John McGeough pointed from the resultant 45 to make it a 1 point game.
Substitute Ethan O’Donnell played in Tony McClenaghan whose right footed shot went low into the bottom corner past Rory Burns.
Ruairi McCormack fisted over for the last score before the water-break as Donegal went in 1-10 to 1-07.
Down started the final quarter on the front foot as a brilliant score from McCormack out right got them going before Odhran Murdoch’s goal put them into the lead with 10 minutes to go.
Donegal replied quickly through Ciaran Thompson then Peadar Mogan gave the home side the lead after 65 minutes.
Despite late pressure, Donegal defended their lead and Paddy McBrearty’s late free-kick gave them the win 1-13 to 2-08. Donegal will now travel to Antrim in their other McKenna Cup group game next Saturday, throw-in at 1:30pm.
Donegal: Michael Lynch; Caolan Ward, Brendan McCole, Odhran McFadden Ferry, Tony McClenaghan (1-00), Eoin Ban Gallagher, Jeaic McKelvey; Michael Langan (0-03,2f), Caolan McGonigle; Eunan Doherty, Peadar Mogan (0-02), Shane O’Donnell(0-01), Paddy McBrearty (0-05,3f), Charlie McGuinness, Conor O’Donnell (0-01).
Down: Rory Burns; Denis Murtagh, Finn McElroy, Cormac McCartan, Ruairi McCormack (0-02), Niall McParland, John McGeough (0-01); Anthony Doherty, Joseph Connery; Odhran Murdock, Tom Close, Cormac O’Rawe, Barry O’Hagan(0-04,3f), Pat Havern(1-01), Andrew Gilmore (1-00).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).