Super 8s: Donegal beat hard-working Meath by nine points in opener
Donegal had to work hard before running out nine-point winners over Meath in their Super 8s opener at Ballybofey.
A first-half goal from Patrick McBrearty and an injury-time strike from substitute Oisin Gallen helped Declan Bonner's men win 2-19 to 1-13.
Michael Newman scored a 45th minute penalty as the visitors produced a strong display in the second-half.
Both sides go to Croke Park for their second game next week, with Donegal playing Kerry and Meath facing Mayo.
Donegal made a strong start to the game in hot conditions, with influential captain Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan and McBrearty all hitting points in the opening seven minutes.
They were winning a lot of Meath kick-outs and causing them major problems with their quick passing and strength.
McBrearty, who scored 1-06 in total, grabbed the first goal of the game in the 25th minute when he raced through and buried a left-foot shot into the roof of the net.
It was his ninth senior goal for Donegal and a fifth in the championship for a player who was making his 100th county appearance.
Meath grew into the game as the half developed and Bryan McMahon scored a superb point as they stayed with Donegal to go into the interval 1-9 to 0-8 down.
It was the visitors who made a strong start to the second period and Gavin McCoy had the ball in the net from close range on 42 minutes only for it to be ruled out for a square ball.
The penalty for Meath's goal was given for a foul by Ryan McHugh on Padraic Harnan three minutes later and Newman made no mistake from the spot as he swept a low strike into the bottom corner.
The momentum began to swing towards the visitors and they grabbed the lead through a Darragh Campion point in the 55th minute.
The lead only lasted a minute as a McBrearty free brought Donegal level before a Ryan McHugh point restored their lead.
Murphy then inspired a strong finish from his side, with Gallen coming off the bench to claim his first senior goal in injury time.
Donegal: Patton, McGrath, Neil McGee, Paul Brennan, Ryan McHugh (0-2), McFadden Ferry, Ban Gallagher, McFadden, Jason McGee (0-1), Thompson, O'Donnell (0-1), Jamie Brennan (0-3), McBrearty (1-6), Murphy (0-3), Langan (0-1).
Replacements: Durcan, McGlynn, McMenamin, Doherty, McCole, McLoone, Eoin McHugh (0-1), O'Baoill, Ward, Gallen (1-1), McGonagle.
Meath: Colgan, Lavin, McGill, Gallagher, Keogan, Harnan, McCoy, Menton (0-2), Shane McEntee (0-1), Devine, McMahon (0-3), James McEntee (0-1), O'Sullivan (0-2), Newman (1-2), Conlon (0-1).
Replacements: McGovern, Brennan, O'Reilly, Tobin, Campion (0-1), Flanagan, Curran, Reilly, Walsh, Kane, Burke.