A relieved Declan Bonner was able to start thinking about another big day out in Croke Park after his side eked out a win in Sligo on Saturday against Roscommon.
The Rossies, very much underdogs, packed their defence and in wet conditions, they almost pulled off a shock win.
For Donegal manager, Declan Bonner, there was no surprise with the Roscommon tactics.
“Football is never easy but we knew what to expect. We had prepared for the Armagh game (in the Ulster final) to be like that and Armagh were a bit more offensive.
“I had heard during the week that Roscommon would be packing up the defence. It is difficult to play against and very difficult to break down. The conditions weren’t good but they were the same for both teams. In those conditions, the ball going in wasn’t sticking and there was a lot of ball turned over.
“To play against that type of game, you need to be very patient. We just weren’t patient enough but in fairness, they battled. That was the pleasing thing from the game. Everyone knows that we are a decent enough footballing side, but they showed their battling qualities there today, when it was there to be won.
“The goal was a big turning point, when it came, because Roscommon would have had to come out at that stage. I just felt a number of legs were starting to get tired in the middle of the park, a lot of running.
“But we defended it well. I think they might have got two more scores after that and we got over the line and we are looking forward to an All-Ireland semi-final,” said Bonner.
The fact that the win was by such a small margin, was welcomed by Bonner.
“From a manager’s point of view, it is a good thing. There are a lot of things to be worked on over the next three to four weeks. Lads will be right back down to the earth. We are delighted they got over the line, but a lot of players didn’t perform to the capability that they have been doing. Some other players stepped up to the mark, like Cian Mulligan, who was outstanding today.
“We are looking forward to the next few weeks and an All-Ireland semi-final.”
He admitted that the defensive set up had set a real poser for his team.
“It is just very difficult to break it down. When you are packing up with six defenders and another line of three, it makes it very, very difficult. We knew what to expect and we got the result, and basically that’s what we came here for today,” said Bonner.
The Donegal manager felt there was more pressure on his side for this game than for any other game this year.
“There has been huge expectation on this bunch of players throughout the season and they have handled that well. Today was a different kettle of fish. I could sense when they arrived (at the ground) with the weather not being great and the wind swirling about, and even in the warm up that they were a bit more apprehensive than the Ulster final.
“The Ulster final, they took it in their stride. It was a good day and these boys like that sort of day. I just felt they were a wee bit more apprehensive in terms of the warm up. There was a huge prize at stake.
“I said to the lads that we are not going to Croke Park to make up numbers. If the All-Ireland semi-final was anywhere, say Tuam Stadium, we would happy to play there. And that’s no disrespect to Tuam Stadium.
“The fact that its in Croke Park is a bonus. We have two steps to go now and that’s basically it,” said Bonner.