Donegal 1-10 Dublin 0-13
Dublin condemned Donegal to Division 2 football next season, after a 73rd minute Paul Mannion point ensured a draw at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey this afternoon.
A 10th-minute Colm McFadden goal was the difference at the break as Donegal led by 1-6 to 0-6 at half-time.
Referee Paudie Hughes forced to withdraw, 10 minutes inside the restart after suffering a knee injury.
Dublin motored well in the second half, making full use of the three minutes of injury-time, as scores from Jack McCaffrey and Mannion ensured a share of the spoils.
Both sides made a host of changes to the sides named midweek, with Jimmy McGuinness making three switching to his starting 15.
St Eunan's Letterkenny's Eamon Doherty was handed his league debut, after just being called into the squad mid-week, and slotting into the full-back line in place of Declan Walsh.
While U-21 players Ryan McHugh and Martin OReilly were replaced by Luke Keaney and Martin McElhinney respectively.
Jim Gavin pulling a master-stroke by introducing Johnny Cooper in the backs in place of Nicky Devereux.
Na Fianna clubman Cooper subsequently putting in an excellent 70 minutes, with Dermot Connolly in for Bryan Cullen at left-half forward.
The sides swapped points in the opening eight minutes, with Mark McHugh drawing first blood for Donegal after just 30 seconds.
Mannion found an equaliser seven minutes later, for the first of his six points; but Dublin hit two wides in a 60-second spell soon-after with Paddy Andrews and Michael Dara Macauley mis-firing in front of the posts.
Donegal delivered a crucial score in the 10th minute, with the only goal of the contest, as Ross Wherity sent the ball off to Paddy McBrearty with the Kilcar clubman fisting the ball over the head of McCaffrey for McFadden to fire the ball past Stephen Cluxton.
This gave Donegal a lead that they would keep until the dying seconds, as Jimmy McGuinness's side held that extra edge over the visitors.
Dublin came within inches of snatching that lead on countless occasions, but Donegal kept bouncing back.
Just a point separated the sides at the end of the first quarter, after points from Mannion and Andrews, but Dublin were held scoreless over the next 11 minutes as Donegal added to their tally.
Points from McBreaty, Michael Murphy and McFadden giving the hosts a 1-5 to 0-3 lead with 10 minutes to go before the break.
Dublin denied a goal in the 18th minute, after Paul Durcan pulled off a superb block from a Paul Flynn shot.
Jim Gavin's side came back strongly before the break, with Cian O'Sullivan and Paddy Andrews firing some excellent points from play to cut the gap to two points in the 30th minute.
Donegal had the bulk of the scoring chances before the interval, bringing their wides tally to seven by the break, but a Ryan Bradley injury-time point left the score at 1-6 to 0-6 at the interval.
The hosts were dealt a blow at the break with the substitution of McFadden through injury, but worked hard on the restart.
The introduction of Bryan Cullen and Ballymun Kickham's Jason Whelan added to the Metropolitans attack, but the second half was dominated by scores from placed balls.
Defences were on top in the early stages of the second half, before Dermot Connolly reduced the gap to two points with a 41st minute pointed free.
But soon after, momentum was halted after Hughes accidental collision with Philly McMahon. The Armagh whistler replaced by Sligo's Michael Duffy, after suffering an ankle injury.
The game halted for three minutes as a result of Hughes's injury, who was stretchered off.
Both sides relied hugely on placed balls in the second half, Murphy and McBrearty pushing Donegal four points clear, 14 minutes into the half.
Dublin came back with Mannion composed from placed balls, but at the opposite end Donegal were searching for further goals without any reward.
Ross Wherity's 55th-minute effort blocked by Cluxton, while Durcan drew a magnificent save at the opposite end for a 68th-minute Jason Whelan effort.
Substitute referee Michael Hughes drawing the ire of Donegal supporters late on after a challenge by Jason Whelan on Rory Kavanagh failed to see a penalty awarded.
Dublin kept motoring until the end to force a draw as scores from McCaffrey and a left-footed Mannion effort ensured a share of the spoils at the full-time whistle.
Following the game Donegal manager Jimmy McGuinness said his side were gutted at the result, but failed to be drawn on a number of decisions that didn't go his sides way, when speaking afterwards.
"There were a lot of things going on in the last 15 or 20 minutes that had a major impact on the game and have relegated us as a result of it", he said.
"I'm very proud of the players the way they played. They should have done enough to win the game, but they didn't win the game."
Donegal: C McFadden (2f) 1-02; M Murphy (3f), P McBrearty (2f) 0-03 each; R Bradley, M McHugh 0-01 each.
Dublin: P Mannion (5f) 0-06; P Andrews 0-03; J McCaffrey, C O'Sullivan, D Connolly, S Cluxton (1 45') 0-01 each.
DONEGAL: P Durkan; E Doherty, E McGee, F McGlynn; L Keaney, L McLoone, A Thompson; R Kavanagh, R Bradley; M McHugh, R Wherity, M McElhinney; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden. Subs: O MacNiallais for McFadden (HT); M O'Reilly for McElhinney (47); D McLaughlin for MacNiallais (68).
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; K O'Brien, P McMahon, D Daly; J McCaffrey, G Brennan, J Cooper; MD Macauley, C O'Sullivan; P Flynn, T Brady, D Connolly; K McManamon, P Andrews, P Mannion. Subs: B Cullen for Flynn (HT); J Whelan for Brady (HT); D Bastick for Macauley (55); D Rock for Connolly (57); M Fitzsimons for Brennan (62).
REFEREE: Padraig Hughes (Armagh).