Proud McIver rues the one that got away
This is as close as you can get to beating Donegal without actually sealing the deal.
The reaction of Derry manager Brian McIver when he emerged from the dressing room afterwards, therefore, was hardly surprising.
"I feel sick, absolutely sick," said the Ardboe man of his gut feeling to have lost by two points.
"We had enough chances, but didn't take them whenever we were on top. That spell they had whenever they got the goal and a couple of points gave them a bit of breathing space.
"But right to the end, we had chances. It's disappointing to play so well and get nothing."
Derry actually squandered chances far too often when they were well-placed to take a score, and a reluctance from some players to take their shot at all spread a bit of uncertainty.
"I know that," McIver agreed.
"Once again they started the second-half very well and got a couple of scores from it. But to be fair, we recovered well.
"The goal last year proved the difference, the goal this year proved the difference as well. I couldn't have asked anything more from the lads, they played really well. Two very committed sides, I cannot complain at all.
"The problem against Donegal is that you must take the chances and too often we didn't.
"Again, for most of the match we were coming from behind, whereas we wanted to play Donegal from the front. That's just the way it panned out, we didn't take the chances and they got the lead.
"I cannot ask any more from the players. They gave 100% and played really well. There was so little in it. Same as last year."
Derry's build-up was also coloured slightly by some harsh opinions, delivered from high-profile media figures from within the county. They weren't allowed to penetrate the team bubble however, maintained McIver.
"We are not worried at all about people sniping. We have a very honest bunch of players. They gave an honest display and I am disappointed for them because we deserved a draw.
"We felt we would do very well in the middle of the park, but it was breakball rather than clean ball that was doing the damage in the first-half. Second-half, a couple of kickouts gave them possession and they scored."
When asked of the late substitution of Eoin Bradley, McIver explained: "As a forward, days go for you or they go over. It was one of those days for Eoin when nothing was going over. We had to change it around."
On the injured Kevin Johnston, who had been doing a fine job on Michael Murphy, McIver confirmed that they did not have an early prognosis, stating: "(We) don't know yet. We are hoping it is a bad bruise but we won't know for another 24 hours.
"But it's one that got away."
Derry now go into this morning's qualifiers draw.