RYAN McHugh acknowledged that Donegal will have regrets over their Super 8s defeat to Tyrone.
Donegal were in charge of the game heading into the final quarter, but they were then blown away by their near neighbours.
McHugh desperately wanted to get through to the All-Ireland semi-final again, but the wait goes on for him and his teammates.
“It’s extremely disappointing. We came up here today to get through to an All-Ireland semi-final and we didn’t do that,” said McHugh after the match.
“I suppose we left ourselves in a good position at half-time and even into the second half by going four points up, but we just let them back into it.
“We allowed them to go on and win the match and that wasn’t good enough, and we live to regret it.”
Tyrone’s substitutes made a massive impression in the game, and really pushed their team over the line.
Mickey Harte didn’t throw any curve balls at Donegal, and the players knew the men that would be coming on, but they weren’t able to stop them.
McHugh said: “Yeah, I think their bench did make a huge difference.
“We felt going into the game that we had that covered but I suppose it was just game management on the pitch, when players come on to get men on them straight away.
“But I think as a team as a whole, we should have kicked on when we were four points up, and it was nearly the same thing as 2016 (Ulster Final).
“We should have kicked on but we didn’t.”
The Kilcar man was downbeat as he left MacCumhaill Park after the match, and there were highs and lows during the campaign.
Relegation to Division 2 wasn’t part of the plan, but McHugh still ends the year with a second provincial medal.
“First of all, we wanted to get back on top in Ulster and we done that.
“We were disappointed to be relegated from Division 1, and we felt we were good enough to stay up.
“We regrouped and got good results in Ulster and we hit a huge high after the Ulster Final.
“We went into the Super 8s in good form and we put in a couple of good performances.
“Even today, we played well for the guts of 50/55 minutes but unfortunately didn’t kick on.”
While Donegal didn’t make it out of their group, the Super 8s were still an exciting prospect for all involved, and McHugh hopes that more big games come back to Ballybofey in the coming years.
“Yeah there was a great atmosphere there today, and the Donegal supporters have been great all year.
“They went down in their numbers to Kerry and everywhere else.
“We want to be competing for Ulsters and All-Irelands and to be doing that we will have to be in the Super 8s every year.
“We are rebuilding and we have a lot of younger players, and this experience might not do any harm down the road if they learn from it and build on it.”