Cork manager Conor Counihan felt his side “panicked” in the face of Donegal’s indefatigable challenge at Croke Park yesterday.
The Ulster champions gave a typically intense display in their 0-16 to 1-11 win, which saw them reach only the second All-Ireland final in their history.
And Counihan believes that Donegal should be lauded, rather than people looking for failings in the performance of his charges.
"It was tit-for-tat up to half time. Second half, I think Donegal took a bit of control there, got a few scores. We probably panicked a little and gave a few turnovers and things like that,” Counihan told RTÉ Sport’s Joanne Cantwell.
“But, look, to be fair to Donegal they were a better team on the day. There's no disputing that.
“Things like that happen on particular days. I can't fault my fellas. They've given us everything over a good number of years. This is the other side of it, and we have to take that on the chin.”
Counihan did admit that his side were inferior when it came to decision-making, and it was that factor that swung the game in Donegal’s favour.
The Cork boss was calling on his team to calm down in the closing stages as they attempted to narrow the deficit, which was at five points before Colm O’Neill’s injury-time goal.
“I felt we were taking the wrong options, and if you get excited you tend to take the wrong options,” Counihan said.
“To keep the game alive you have to keep your head, and maybe at times we didn't pick great options.”
The Cork supremo refused to accept that Donegal had superior fitness levels, and pointed to what the Tír Chonaill men did in possession as more important than their insatiable appetite for running.
“I'm not so sure. I suppose when teams win everything is evaluated one way as against the other,” Counihan said.
“Look, I think used the ball better when they got it to be fair to them, and I think that was the key issue.”
The Aghada clubman also denied the Rebels’ tactics were not up to scratch.
“Well, I suppose it's like the fitness element - when you don't win everything is wrong, and I don't think that's quite true,” he said.
“Maybe we could have done things better. But, look, it's history now and we've to move on and wish Donegal the best.”