Donegal blotted their copybooks with their goal concessions in the 1-19 to 3-7 win over Louth but at least an objective was achieved.
Capturing the two points in Ballyshannon yesterday means Jim McGuinness’s side know a win or draw in Armagh on Sunday will avoid a potential myriad of complications as regards promotion from the Allianz League Division Two.
There’s a possibility of Croke Park in the final, another possible preparatory outing prior to the Ulster championship date with Derry on Sunday, May 25.
“We’re trying to win every single game,” the upbeat Donegal manager said afterwards.
“We have had a very good league campaign. We’re absolutely delighted with the league. We’ve got a lot of tough battles and a lot of tough challenges. We got to try out things and test different things.
“If we were lucky enough to get through next week we would have another one in the lead-up to the Derry match. That’s why we’d like to win next week.”
While all the talk at Pairc Esler in Newry a fortnight beforehand had been of opportunities missed - Donegal scored just 10 points from 30 chances - that side of the ledger was at least atoned at Fr Tierney Park.
“We got 20 scores today from 29 attempts so that was very decent,” McGuinness added. “We weren’t critical of them the last day because they’re normally good and they normally make good decisions.”
McGuinness isn’t one to over-emphasise the negatives. He held his court on the offensive shortcomings against Down and although disappointed to a degree, yesterday vowed to look into the defensive bother.
After Paddy Keenan had given Louth’s sprinkling of support something to cheer on 32 minutes when he took advantage of a Paul Durcan spill, the visitors learned at half-time that Galway’s win over Armagh had confirmed their relegation.
With little to play for, Louth opted to throw the kitchen sink and all the cutlery at Donegal to see what would happen. And although it ultimately fell short, there was enough evidence to suggest too much respect had been shown initially.
Aidan O’Rourke’s team just ran at Donegal’s pierced defence and got their reward when Keenan smashed a goal on 54 minutes past Durcan, just 90 seconds before Brian White rammed home a third Louth goal.
“Most of the performance we would be very happy with and then, obviously, some of the other issues we’re very disappointed with,” McGuinness added. “Two of the goals, we felt we shouldn’t have conceded and that took the gloss off it a wee bit.
“We were 0-13 to 0-1 ahead before we conceded the first goal. We were playing well and we were executing everything really well. That goal brought them back into it.
“The second goal was something similar. It put a bit of life into the game for that period, but we’d have preferred if we’d kept going. We will have to look at the goals and how they originated. They could have been prevented.
“Goals are big scores in any game and it got them back into it. Goals will always give people energy and Louth definitely got energy - and hope - from the goal. That’s a fairly natural thing. From our point of view we want to continue to drive on. To make mistakes and get punished with a goal every time is not ideal.
“If you take that element out of it, 80 per cent of the performance was very good. We are working on a lot of things and we got those things executed well.”
Despite the nitpicks, Donegal have thus far enjoyed a decent league and have certainly more positives than negatives when the competition is assessed to this point.
Frank McGlynn missed out yesterday with hamstring injury that wasn’t risked, while Neil Gallagher had a slight groin complaint and it is hoped to he will be available for the Athletic Grounds.
Karl Lacey was taken off at half-time with a bang on the knee.
Martin McElhinney felt unwell before the match and sat it out but all in all, the injury news is generally going in the right direction.
“We haven’t had as many injuries this year,” McGuinness said. “We’re trying to nurse some of the older lads back to full fitness. Rory Kavanagh played nearly a full game today and that’s the first time this year he has done that. In the period where we were thinking about taking him off he came into the game really well. He caught a couple of good balls.
“Our squad is in a far better place. We were losing players all the time last year and it was very demoralising for the squad.”