Football was secondary in Ballybofey tonight as the memory of the four young men who lost their lives in a tragic road accident last week were honoured by a moments silence and a presentation of four candles from Meath Co Board secretary Mairead Delaney to Donegal's Coentral Council delegate Sean O Domhnaill.
As for the game Donegal came from four points down with 12 minutes remaining to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by 1-13 to 0-14.
Defeat was harsh on the visiting Meath men as they produced their best football for a long time and looked on course for the win when 0-14 to 0-10 in the 59th minute.
However a long harmless ball into the Meath square was mis-read by goalkeeper Andy Colgan and as he stood waiting to gather possession Caolan McGonagle nipped in to steer the ball between his legs.
The concession of that goal was a knockout blow for Meath and they failed toproduce anywhere near the flair and energy that had highlighted the previous 59 minutes.
Instead Donegal kicked on and added a point from Ciaran Thompson and the insurance score from Eoin McHugh to seal the win.
It had looked like being a worthwhile trip to the bitterly cold north-west for Meath when points from Newman (free), Shane McEntee, Darragh Campion and Niall Kane boosted them to a 0-4 to 0-2 first quarter lead.
Donegal stayed in touch, but they still trailed by 0-7 to 0-8 at the break.
After the resumption Donegal drew level, but Meath kicked on again with Bryan Menton, Newman (two) and McEntee on target to make it 0-12 to 0-8.
Brilliant scores from James McEntee and Campion maintained Meath's advantage and put them in control. However Colgan's error let Donegal back into the game and they took full advantage.
Meath – Andy Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Ronan Ryan; James McEntee (0-2), Donal Keogan, Niall Kane (0-2); Bryan Menton (0-1), Shane McEntee (0-2); Ethan Devine (0-1), Ben Brennan, Bryan McMahon; Darragh Campion (0-3), Mickey Newman (0-2 frees), Thomas O'Reilly. Subs – Cillian O'Sullivan for Brennan half-time, Graham Reilly for Devine 46 mins, James Conlon for McMahon 54m, Jason Scully for Campion 66m, Mickey Burke for Newman 71m.
Donegal – Mark Anthony McGinley; Conor Morrison, Brendan McCole, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Caolan Ward, Eamonn Doherty, Ryan McHugh; Hugh McFadden, Michael Langan (0-1); Niall O'Donnell (0-3 two frees), Ciaran Thompson (0-5 three frees), Caolan McGonagle (1-0); Marty Reilly (0-1 mark), Martin McElhinney, Jamie Brennan (0-2). Subs – Leo McLoone for Langan half-time, Jason McGee for McElhinney, Stephen McMenamin for Reilly both 45 mins, Eoin McHugh (0-1) for Doherty 66m, Paul Brennan for O'Donnell 75m.