Mickey Graham says that his Cavan players always believed that the could win the Ulster SFC final, even if no-one else did.

The Breffni men have their hands on the Anglo-Celt Cup for the first time in 23 years - and a 40th time overall.

They were written off in many quarters coming into Sunday's decider, with some even tipping Donegal to be the team to finally stop Dublin's relentless march this season.

But Cavan fought gamely to deny Declan Bonner's men a third Ulster crown on the spin, and to set up a showdown with the Boys in Blue next month.

"I don't think anybody believed it was going to be bridged today, apart from the players," Graham told RTÉ Sport afterwards.

"We were written off coming into it, let's be honest about it. In all quarters not one person believed that we could do it - bar the players themselves.

"Our own supporters got behind us like they always do, but did they believe that we could go and do it? I don't know.

"They'll believe now, let me tell you!"

The game was the sixth weekend on the spin that Cavan were involved in important matches.

They attempted to battle against relegation from Division 2 of the Allianz League, before ultimately going down. But they had little time to dwell on the disappointment, with Division 1 side Monaghan their opponents in the preliminary round in the province.

But they came from behind to cause their first upset on this run, beat Antrim the following week, and then came from 10 points behind to break Down hearts in the semi-final.

The conventional wisdom coming into Sunday's game was that they would give it a go, but ultimately run of out steam coming down the home straight.

The opposite proved to be true, as the final quarter was when they made their move.

"It's just a collective group of players that have come together and put their bodies on the line for one another," was Graham's response when asked where the performance had come from.

"Every time we go out and take the field all we ask is for them to give it their best and that's what they've done.

"To play six weeks in a row and to win an Ulster title - that's an achievement in itself. To get this far after all the turbulence we've had along the way, and then to top it off with your best performance of the year...

"What can you say about those lads? I'm just so proud of them.

"We said as a management team, and as a group, that if we were in this game with 15 minutes to go that we were going to be bang there, because we've finish games strongly all year.

"That's exactly what we did."

Raymond Galligan made two second-half saves to keep Donegal at bay

Cavan now have a first semi-final to look forward to since 1997, and a trip to Croke Park to face the "beast" of Dublin, as Graham calls them, in just under two weeks.

Graham was in charge of the Mullinalaghta side that shocked Dublin club giants Kilmacud Crokes in December of 2018 in the Leinster club final.

But he says that game will be the last thing on his mind.

"We're not evening thinking of them at this moment in time," he says of the Dubs.

"This is a long time in the waiting for Cavan people. We've suffered for so long and I'm just delighted for the kids at home - my own children, all the lads' children - that they get to see Cavan winning an Ulster Championship.

"A lot of people have never seen that.

"I'm just delighted for all the people at home who can't be here today that we've brightened up their winter this year with everything that's going on."