Re-introducing his walking wounded back into contention was of more importance to Jim McGuinness than a 1-10 to 0-11 win in Armagh.
The win, snatched in the last four minutes of regulation and five minutes of injury time, did bring with it a smile for the Donegal manager.
“The bottom line is we came here to get a good workout and we got a good workout and we got the result,.“
That’s the big positive for me looking forward to the next couple of weeks.”
Donegal held their own in a first half that was heavy going but facing the wind, conceded five successive scores to see a 0-3 to 0-2 advantage turn into a 0-7 to 0-3 deficit.
However, McGuinness drip-fed his team with experience as Neil Gallagher, who shored up centre-field, and Neil McGee were introduced for their first runs since last August after knee injuries.
David Walsh’s continued recuperation from a hernia operation saw him come on as sweeper, while Karl Lacey got 70 minutes under his belt following a hamstring strain.
Colm McFadden bundled in a goal following a scramble in the square six minutes from time before a brace of points apiece from Michael Murphy and Odhran MacNiallais sealed a rare Dr McKenna Cup win for McGuinness.
“In the last 10 minutes of the first half, we got tired and in the last 10 minutes of the second half they did,” he said.
“They got scores with the breeze and the same happened for us in the second. There was a hefty breeze. Once we got level I had a feeling that we would win the game. But it wasn’t about that today.
“We’ve four or five men coming back into the fray again; men who haven’t been in the jersey in a while.”
Donegal have an outside chance of a semi-final berth but increasing match-fitness is more important at this stage of the season for McGuinness.
“Will they start against Queens?” he queried. “To be honest, that’s down to the medical people. They said, for example, 20 minutes for Neil Gallagher today and 25 minutes for Neil McGee. David Walsh the same. We want to build them up.”
Donegal open Division Two with a fixture against Laois on February 2. McGuiness concluded: “We have a lot of injuries who are not fit enough for high intensity football but we want to integrate them between now and the end of the league.
“We want to bring them up to a level for the summer. We have to balance gametime with .winning matches,” said the Donegal oss