Man of the match Patrick McBrearty chose the perfect stage to put a difficult few weeks behind him.
He admitted after Sunday’s game that the fall-out from the biting incident during the league clash with Dublin did impact on him, even if it’s now water under the bridge.
“It was obviously difficult,” he said. “It was a bid head-melting but I had U-21 championship to focus on and my own club football and that blocked out all the media hype.”
He also had the small matter of an Ulster Championship opener with Tyrone to take his mind off the controversy and Sunday’s win, given all the pressure on Donegal, was particularly sweet.
“Anyday you beat Tyrone is a good one,” he said. “Obviously there was a lot of hype in the lead up to this game. We had an objective and that was to beat Tyrone today and thankfully we’ve done that.”
McBrearty gave a telling contribution up top alongside Colm McFadden and his part in Donegal’s two goals probably earned him the man of the match award. Asked about the first goal, he gave his team-mate all the credit for a wonderful finish.
“Colm gave me a shout and I seen him out of the corner of my eye,” he said.
“I tried to get a good connection on it and flicked it across towards where he was. In fairness, Colm had the majority of the work to do afterwards. He was at a tight angle and thankfully he put it in the back of the net.”
McBrearty’s pace and strength on the ball set up substitute, Ross Wherity for the all-important second.
“It was a good ball, I think from Rory Kavanagh. It was a forward’s ball. I don’t think the defenders could do much about it and thankfully Ross was in the right place at the right time to put it in the back of the net.”
The Kilcar man refused to be drawn into the notion that Donegal’s win makes them odds-on favourites to retain Ulster. “We take one game at a time, we have always done that,” he said.
“Whoever it is between Derry and Down, we’ll treat that game the same as this one and look forward to it in four weeks time.”
But he did admit that Donegal are perhaps in a stronger position than they were this time last year.
“We have probably as strong as squad as we’ve had since Jim took over,” he said. “Ross came on there and chipped in with a goal. Marty O’Reilly came on at half time and contributed well. We’ve got Odhran MacNiallias and Luke Keeney in the squad, Declan Walsh came in and did well so we are very happy with the performance today and we’ll regroup on Tuesday night and take it from there.”
It’s been a busy time for the Donegal forward who completed his first year college exams on Wednesday, just in time to concentrate solely on yesterday’s big game.
“It was a bit like the Derry game this time last year, I did my leaving cert before that, so it’s a bit of deja vu,” he said.
Add to that a third championship win over Tyrone on the bounce and another quality display from Donegal - Sunday’s game did have a familiar feel to it.