Before time was called, Rory Gallagher got it out of the way.
The final minute of added time had still to be played in the Ulster final when Gallagher took leave of his position at the Fermanagh dugout and headed for his opposite number.
Picture: Rory Gallagher during Sunday’s Ulster final. Picture by Evan Logan
With the game still being played, Gallagher shook hands with Declan Bonner, whose Donegal side were 12 points in front.
Donegal’s substitutes were already huddled in position waiting for David Gough to blow the full-time whistle. Gallagher went around each of the Donegal backroom staff who were on the sideline, giving Karl Lacey – with whom he’d soldiered himself for six years during his time with Donegal – a tap on the shoulder and offering his congratulations.
Having lost two Ulster finals by narrow margins while Donegal manager, this was a different feeling for Gallagher, whose Fermanagh were soundly beaten.
“It was a tough day at the office,” Gallagher said.
“We started reasonably well and turned them over a few times and it was nip and tuck but the two big moments were from Ryan McHugh’s involvement.
“Against the likes of Donegal and Monaghan, teams who are playing at a higher level than us, you have to give yourself a really good chance of winning the game.
“The hope was to be nip and tuck at half-time or maybe slightly ahead. That wasn’t the case and it was going to be difficult for us.
“We tried to really, really go at it and we changed our tactics in the kickouts. We had some success, but in order to do that we needed a score at the start of the second half. We put in a few high balls and nothing came.”
In his first year as Fermanagh manager, Gallagher has overseen promotion to Division 2 in the League and reaching the Ulster final. Their journey hasn’t ended, either, with a qualifier still to come.
Gallagher said: “Anybody in Fermanagh would have taken that.
“When we qualified for the semi-final we always felt we had a great chance of beating Monaghan. We had been playing really, really well and felt we could start really, really well.
“Personally, it’s very disappointing when you are involved in a team and everybody is together, working really hard and wants the same outcome.
“We have come a long way with that. You say we lost in some style, but if you lost narrowly you would still feel like crap. So that’s a test and every team has been through tough times.”