Eamonn McConigley was a proud man, despite the disappointment of losing to such a late goal at Leckview Park on Tuesday night.
The Rovers manager had watched his team match their senior opponents over the two games.
And in front of a big crowd at Leckview Park, he said their attitude and performance on Tuesday night had won them a lot of admirers.
“I thought we had two very good chances in the first half,” he said.
“ I turned and I said to Anthony (Gorman), I hope we're not going to rue these missed chances.
“But as the game went on you felt one goal was going to win it. And whoever would get it, it would be hard for the other side to come back, especially in extra time when the two sides were more tired.
“We were more tired than they were, which is only natural as they are the senior team.
“We had corners, we had chances cleared off the line and especially the one that hit the bar.
“I felt we didn’t get the rub of the green there tonight, but that’s cup football.”
McConigley admitted that he was preparing for penalties before Athlone struck for the winner three minutes from the end of extra time.
“You can’t fault anyone,” the manager said.
“ It was such a tremendous game and fantastic to be involved in it. It was fantastic for the people who came here to watch this game.
“I said to the lads in there to keep their heads up because we have done Donegal soccer proud.
“With the big crowd that we had there tonight, these lads have gained an awful lot of respect in Donegal,” he added.