Niall O'Donnell in action against Ryan McHugh in Ballybofey
An injury time goal from Ryan McHugh deprived Donegal of victory in the opening game of the Dr. McKenna Cup in MacCumhaill Park.
Donegal deserved better as they dominated for much of the game against the odds. Declan Bonner's U-21s were ahead and looking good before McHugh got on the end of a move to fist home with time almost up.
The youthful Donegal team started very well and had the first score from Niall O'Donnell on two minutes, slotting over with his left.
They were knocked back three minutes later when UUJ got their opening score, a goal, which had a touch of fortune to it. The ball broke to Daire Gallagher and he fired home on the ground.
Donegal had a great chance in the seventh minute but Michael Langan delayed his pass with two players overlapping. However, they were back in front on nine minutes. Eoghan Bán Gallagher gave a poor pass forward but UUJ full-back Ricky Johnston lost possession and Gavin McBride stayed calm and passed to Eoghan Bán to slot home to an empty net.
Patrick McBrearty levelled and UUJ went three clear with points from Barry Grant, Lorcan Connor and Niall McKeever.
Donegal stayed in touch with Niall O'Donnell and Michael Langan slotting good scores and they should have gone ahead on 18 minutes. Tony McClenaghan played a great long range pass to Gavin McBride who set up Jamie Brennan. The Bundoran man's effort came back off the crossbar (and he seemed to be fouled after he took his shot).
But the effort gave Donegal renewed confidence. Dáire Ó Baoill cancelled a McBrearty point before McBrearty and Niall Madine edged UUJ ahead 1-7 to 1-4.
Eoghan Bán Gallagher and McBrearty traded points before Donegal on terms with a second goal. Michael Carroll was involved at the start and the finish. Niall O'Donnell and Michael Langan were also involved as Langan crossed for Carroll to palm home.
Barry Grant pushed UUJ ahead but Donegal finished the half well with points from Gavin McBride (2) and a mighty effort from Michael Langan. McBride's second point could have been a goal as Eoghan Bán and Jamie Brennan set him up but his palmed effort went just over the crossbar.
UUJ lost Gareth McKinless to a black card on 29 minutes, while Michael Langan recorded the first of two marks in the opening half on 12 minutes.
Half-time: Donegal 2-8, UUJ 1-9
The second half proved just as entertaining with Donegal holding the upper hand for much of the half.
James Kearney had a point within 15 seconds for the Students but Gavin Bride (free) and Michael Carroll replied.
Points from Patrick McBrearty (2) and Rory McGlone had UUJ level but a third goal from St. Naul's Brendan McCole on 55 minutes put Donegal back in control. UUJ responded with half-time substitute Frank Burns impressing, hitting four second half points but Michael Carroll and Niall O'Donnell responded.
Ronan McAlinden and Ryan McHugh points had UUJ level again with six minutes left but a fourth goal from Ethan O'Donnell seemed to have won it for Donegal, but a Frank Burns point and McHugh's goal left Donegal gallant losers by just one point.
Just before the end Donegal lost Tony McGlenaghan to a second yellow card.
Scorers: Donegal: Eoghan Ban Gallagher 1-1; Michael Carroll 1-2; Michael Langan 0-3; Niall O'Donnell 0-3; Gavin McBride 0-3,2f; Ethan O'Donnell, Brendan McCole 1-0 each; Dáire Ó Baoill 0-1
UUJ: Patrick McBrearty 0-7,2f; Frank Burns 0-4,2f; Ryan McHugh 1-1; Daire Gallagher 1-0; Barry Grant 0-2; Niall McKeever, Lorcan Connor, Ronan McAlinden, Ruairi McGlone, James Kearney, Niall Madine (f) 0-1 each
DONEGAL: Danny Rodgers; Danny Monagle, Stephen McMenamin, Conor Morrison; Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Niall Friel, Dáire Ó Baoill; Tony McClenaghan, Michael Carroll; Christian Bonner, Michael Langan, Niall O'Donnell; Conor Doherty, Gavin McBride, Jamie Brennan. Subs., Brendan McCole for Friel (48); Daniel Gallagher for Bonner (52); Ethan O'Donnell for Brennan (54); Adam Neely for G McBride (62); Ciaran Diver for Doherty (65); Daniel Clarke for O'Donnell (69)
UUJ: Sean Fox; Ruairi Kelly, Ricky Johnston, Cathal Boylan; Ryan McHugh, Barry Grant, Gearoid McKinless; Niall McKeever, Rory McGlone; James Kearney, Matthew Walsh, Lorcan Connor; Patrick McBrearty, Niall Madine, Daire Gallagher. Subs., Damien McKeown for McKinless (bc29); Frank Burns for McKeever; Jack McCann for Walsh; Ronan McAlinden for Gallagher (all ht); John Fitzgerald for Grant (48); Shane McGahon for Connor (65)
REFEREE: Conor Dourneen (Cavan)