Brendan Rogers hailed Derry’s first Ulster SFC title in 24 years as “a very special moment” after their 1-16 to 1-14 extra time win in Clones.
Man of the match Rogers hit 0-3 while marking Donegal captain Michael Murphy.
“You always have ambitions as a young fella to win something with your county,” said dual star Rogers, who has won six Ulster club titles with Slaughtneil.
“I’m just delighted to come out on the right end of a very tough game.”
Derry played with a composure which belied their lack of experience of the big day in Clones.
Their manager Rory Gallagher gave them the belief. His previous experiences leading Donegal and Fermanagh in provincial deciders was a key factor in overcoming a Donegal outfit appearing in their 10th Ulster final in 12 years.
“Rory has been phenomenal.” Rogers said.
“There was a bit of something missing in Derry for a long time but Rory has brought us together. It’s hard to say it’s one thing but he has helped us produce the goods. We don’t want to stop here. We want to keep building as a team.
“It’s a launchpad but we have to remain grounded because we want to take another few steps,” Rogers added.
The Slaughtneil man was superb, curtailing Murphy’s influence and also raiding forward with crucial scores himself. However he deflected the praise, insisting in Derry these days, the forwards defend and the defenders can score.
“The way we set up as a team we try to work hard, a lot of forwards do a lot of defending so I can only do my bit to help them on the front foot.
“I fortunate to get on the end of a few scores but it’s all about the team effort.”
For Gallagher, winning his first Anglo Celt as a manager was a personal triumph after losing Ulster finals in charge of Donegal and Fermanagh.
Derry defeated three Division One sides in Tyrone, Monaghan and Donegal on their way to Ulster glory with Gallagher masterminding the whole thing.
“It’s unbelievable elation when you come out on the right side of a battle like that,” he said.
“We want to fulfil our potential and to me fulfilling our potential this year was winning an Ulster title. You’re playing Donegal, you’re playing Monaghan, Tyrone, there’s nothing between any of those teams.
“I thought we were the better team today and I thought it was a fortunate goal for Donegal. We are fairly new on the block.
“With Covid we’re only knuckling down this last 14, 15 months and we want to keep going. We will enjoy today and tomorrow and move on.”