Donegal Vocational Schools manager Joseph McKelvey made no secret of what he felt was the prime influence as they won Ulster last week.
McKelvey’s team were two points to the good against Cavan, 0-11 to 0-9, last Wednesday night in Enniskillen 13 minutes into the second half.
Cavan, who were five points behind a few moments beforehand, were building a head of steam at a precarious time for Donegal.
McKelvey, though, had an ace up his sleeve and introduced Darach O’Connor to the fray.
The Buncrana forward, who was last year’s county minor captain and has now been called up to Jim McGuinness’s senior panel, had been unavailable for the Vocational Schools semi-final - Donegal’s 4-12 to 1-5 victory over Tyrone.
O’Connor made an instant impact, scoring 2-2 and making a goal for Jamie Brennan as Donegal clinched their fourth successive provincial title on a 3-13 to 1-13 scoreline.
“I can can’t pretend anything else,” McKelvey said afterwards. “Darach O’Connor was the difference. Jesus, he came on and scored 2-2 and made another goal
“He was phenomenal. He reminded me of an U-16 player playing in an U- 14 game. He just bullied his way through. He was brilliant.”
Donegal’s starting forwards all had decent evenings as each and every one of them scored from play.
Conor Doherty almost grabbed a goal inside of 25 seconds, only for Cavan goalkeeper Kealan O’Connor to save.
Donegal had to be content with an 0-8 to 0-4 interval advantage.
“We should have won that game by a country mile,” McKelvey, from Naomh Conaill in Glenties, continued.
“We knew at half-time that we were well clear and we told the boys that one goal would finish it.
“For example, we spent the first 10 minutes in their half and we only scored two points.”
The competition may soon be consigned to the history books and discontinued. It is conceivable that Wednesday’s final will be the last game played at this grade in Ulster.
“It feels like we’re flogging a dead horse, to be honest,” McKelvey said.
“We are very proud of the competition and we always have been. All Donegal footballers remember it fondly.
“I would be hopeful of retaining the competition, but I don’t think it’s likely. The competition has been very good to Donegal over the years.”