Relief was Donegal midfielder Rory Kavanagh’s main emotion at the end of yesterday gruelling and hard fought encounter with Down.
The St. Eunan’s man turned in another big performance for Donegal in the middle of park covering back to help out his defence on a number of occasions. He also made a number of forays into the Down half and scored Donegal’s first point of the second half to open up a three point lead. 0-7 to 0-4
“It is all about getting over the line and making it through to the final and we achieved that today. It may not have been pretty, but it was all about getting to the final against a dogged and determined Down that were hurting from last year’s Ulster final.
“They stuck with us right to the end and I suppose it was no more than we were expecting after last year and the manner in which we pulled away in the last quarter.
“After last year’s final we always knew they were going to come determined not to let us win as easy again and they set themselves up to make sure that wouldn’t happen. They went very defensive and they were hard to break down.
“But thankfully we got a few important scores at important times. Colm’s (McFaddden) and Michael’s (Murphy) points at the start really steadied us and gave us a good start. But fair play to Down they fought back and there was only two in it at half-time.
“The performance may not have been great but we also had to make a lot of changes and had to bring on a number of players and that was a factor too.
“We would not be happy with the way we moved the ball through our hands at times and we are certainly going to have to work on that before the final.
“In the first 20 minutes we played the ball well and got off to a good start.
“But we ran into a bit of difficulty after that and then Down got men behind the ball and made it difficult for us.
“They really crowed the defence and really got stuck in and I suppose it is a concern that we were not able to deal with them when they went defensive.
“They turned over a lot of ball and every time they did it lifted the crowd and that gave them great energy. Fair play to Down they were with us until the finish.”
“But we have to be grateful to Colm and Michael. They showed great composure and experience in the closing minutes and kicked a number of crucial scores.
“Colm kicked two brilliant points and Michael really nailed that long range free at the finish to finally seal it. They were important scores and really steadied us again and got us over the line,” said Rory.
“We were sloppy today at times and we know we have a lot to do before the final but the most important thing is that we are looking forward to a third final in a row.”