At the final whistle in Ballybofey, Derry manager Rory Gallagher paced around in different directions. Heading nowhere and heading somewhere.
Knowing that the summer was over and despite the mountain of work he had put into this Derry team in getting them to completely dismiss their standing in the league compared to Donegal’s, it came down to the typical fine margins of a penalty shout and a palmed attempt that hit the crossbar and didn’t quite get over the line.
The first person over to him spoke volumes, though. Hugh McFadden was a young lad when Gallagher handed him his debut and gave him his first taste of county action. He also coached him for years with Killybegs. Donegal’s vice-captain was straight over to give Gallagher a tight squeeze at the finish.
As someone who would have taken part in many Rory Gallagher training sessions, McFadden knew it would be tough and Derry would be prepared.
“For long spells of the game, Derry were the better team and we only got in front in injury time. I did have confidence in the team that we could get the win, although it probably didn’t look like that for long spells,” he said.
“We’ve a few match-winners, though, and no better man than Patrick McBrearty. We didn’t play the best quality in the middle and therefore the service wasn’t the best to the likes of Paddy inside.
“When we needed him the most, he stood up.”
He continued: “One of the things that attracted Rory to Derry was the great standard of player as you could see with the success in the Ulster club competitions.
“They’re a bit of a sleeping giant maybe. They’re a quality team and in Ulster you’ve quality teams like Monaghan, Tyrone and Armagh too — all Division One teams.
“It’s a serious high level. You have to be at your best to come away with a one-point victory. A lot of the credit for how we weren’t that good today is because of Derry.”
You cannot give all the credit to Derry either. Despite their high press, twice goalkeeper Shaun Patton found the spare man up the field and they were able to instantly reply to a Derry score.
Standing watching those balls fly over his head every time, full-back Neil McGee knows how fortunate his team are to have an incredible goalkeeper.
“I think it's a great asset for Donegal to have him and a player of that ability,” said the Gaoth Dobhair man.
“Particularly when the pressure is on. In fairness to Derry, they came with a high press in the second half and they really squeezed us.
“But Shaun worked it out and got a few away, and that was basically what took us back into the game.
“It was his platform that got us back into the game and we are lucky to have him.”
And now they head to Enniskillen, a novel venue for an Ulster semi-final, but nothing novel in the meeting against old rivals Tyrone.
“The rivalry has always been there. They were on top when I started and then we got on top,” grimaced McGee.
“It's been a ding-dong then over the last few years to take that ground again. There's nothing between the two teams and you saw that in the league game and you saw that here in the championship last year.
“It will be something similar like today. We haven't really spoken about Tyrone because we knew what was coming with Derry. We will get straight to work tonight.”
He found himself watching Tyrone on Saturday evening.
“As a GAA fan, you're going to sit and watch the game,” he explained. “You have nothing to do at home the night before a game so you're always going to sit and watch. It's always at the back of your head that you could playing these next week."
And of course, the whole debate will centre once more on Michael Murphy and the condition of his hamstring.
“We’re accustomed to having Michael and we have great faith in the players we have,” adds McFadden.
“Outside of our circle (others) probably make more of a big deal of it than we do.”
We will see.