Finn Harps were devastated after conceding a 94th-minute equaliser at the Brandywell, but Ollie Horgan’s men also issued a statement of intent following what was a professional performance.
That said Derry City refused to give up the ghost before grabbing that late, late equaliser, and the point will be welcomed by Declan Devine given the balance of play.
With Harps’ determined players sticking rigidly to a strict game-plan, the men from Ballybofey should have recorded their second win of the season.
Indeed, Horgan will have been the happier of the managers at half-time, his side having performed so well defensively, with Derry struggling to break them down.
Harps hard-working central midfielder, Ryan Connolly, broke the deadlock in the 33rd-minute following a stray pass by Derry defender, Ciaran Coll.
Coll actually took a throw-in but when the ball was returned to him, his poorly directed pass was picked up by the advancing Connolly, who displayed a cool head when curling his left-footed effort home from 14 yards.
It was a thoroughly deserved lead for the well organised Donegal men but Derry improved following the change of ends, with McCormack and McDonagh getting in behind the visiting defence
However, it was Harps who went close to doubling their lead when Karl O’Sullivan’s shot was superbly turned around the post by Derry keeper Peter Cherrie.
Conor Clifford crashed an effort off the Harps crossbar in the 55th minute, and when McDonagh appeared to be pushed by Mark Russell, the referee refused to award what would have been a soft penalty.
Harps keeper Martin McGinley pulled off a superb save to deny Walter Figeirua in injury time but, during the final minute of added time substitute, Adam Liddle, squeezed the ball home following Figueira’s cutback, much to the disgust of the travelling fans.
DERRY CITY: Cherrie; Lupano, Toal, Gilchrist, Coll; McDonagh, McCormack, Clifford (Mallon, 64), Figueira; Harkin (Malone, 70); Nilsen (Liddle, 74).
FINN HARPS: McGinley; Webster, Sadiki, Todd, McEleney (Coyle, 71), Russell; Donnellan (G. Harkin, 62), T. McNamee, B. McNamee, Connolly (Doherty, 85); O’Sullivan.
Referee: R Hennessy (Dublin).