The Donegal squad pictured before game in Clare
Donegal were made fight to the finish to get a result against a good Clare side in Cusack Park, Ennis.
With Eoghan Bán Gallagher back in Donegal colours the side relegated from Division One last year were given a real run for their money.
Donegal had the scoreboard operator in action on 55 seconds with Michael Langan winning and pointing free.
It was the first score in free flowing opening half. Clare's impressive midfielder Gary Brennan levelled and Keelan Sexton put the home side ahead from a free on five minutes.
It should have been better for Clare after Sexton got in behind the Donegal defence but blazed his effort into the side netting.
Donegal, playing against the breeze, then had a strong period and by the 11th minute they were 0-5 to 0-2 ahead with points from Michael Langan, Ciaran Thompson (2) and a great effort from Eoghan Bán Gallagher after he combined with Conor Morrison.
Dean Ryan pulled a point back for Clare but Michael Langan pointed a free after Caolan McGonagle was fouled.
Another great Gary Brennan effort after a terrific solo run was countered by another Langan free before Dermot Coughlan and David Tubridy pulled the margin back to a point on 25 minutes.
Jamie Brennan hit the point of the half from a difficult angle but Clare were persistent and two points from David Tubridy (one free) had them on level terms.
But on the stroke of half-time Donegal struck back. Jason McGee landed from an angle and from the kick-out Niall O'Donnell drove back over the bar to leave Donegal ahead by 0-10 to 0-8 after a very entertaining first half.
Two Donegal handling mistakes gave David Tubridy the chance to hit two points to level within two minutes of restart. Gary Brennan then struck the lead point, his effort tipped over by Conor Morrison.
After five wides in 10 minutes, Jason McGee finally got Donegal back level on 41 minutes. Caolan McGonagle edged them ahead but their wide tally kept rising.
Clare lost their 'keeper to injury as Hugh McFadden forced a turnover and Jamie Brennan applied the finish to put Donegal two ahead on 61 minutes and within seconds the Bundoran man added another.
David Tubridy cut the deficit from a free and Gavin Cooney left just a point in it as eight minutes went up on the board for added time.
Clare kept driving forward but Hugh McFadden eased Donegal worries and Jason McGee had the final point in the 11th minute of added time.
CLARE: Robert Eyres; Kevin Harnett, Cillian Brennan, Gordon Kelly; Dean Ryan (0-01), Aaron Fitzgerald, Eoghan Collins; Gary Brennan (0-03), Cathal O'Connor; Cian O'Dea, Jamie Malone, Dermot Coughlan (0-01); Kieran Malone, Keelan Sexton (0-1,0-1f), David Tubridy (0-06, 0-03f).
Subs: Pearse Lillis for E Collins 47; Sean Collins for K Malone 53; Eamonn Tubridy for Eyres 58; Darragh Bohannon for J Malone 62; Gavin Cooney (0-01) for Coughlan 66
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Conor Morrison, Brendan McCole, Caolan Ward; Paul Brennan, Eoghan Bán Gallagher (0-01), Eamonn Doherty; Hugh McFadden (0-01), Jason McGee (0-03); Ciaran Thompson (0-02), Ryan McHugh, Caolan McGonagle (0-01, 0-01f); Niall O'Donnel (0-01)l, Michael Langan (0-04, 0-04f) Jamie Brennan (0-03).
Subs: Martin McElhinney for P Brennan 42; Leo McLoone for McGonagle 55; Stephen McMenamin for Bán Gallagher 66; Peadar Mogan for Doherty 81
REFEREE: Padraig O'Sullivan (Kerry)
See also: Marksman - how the Donegal players fared