Jim McGuinness praised his Donegal players for the character they displayed in hanging on with 14 men to beat Laois in the Division Two final.
McGuinness was celebrating silverware just nine months after taking over as manager from John Joe Doherty.
"Adrian Hanlon's sending-off has a big impact on the play in the second half and it looked like we were going to lose," said McGuinness.
"The players dug in and showed just how much they wanted to win the game."
Donegal enjoyed an eight-point lead early in the second half at Croke Park but that was reduced to just one by a strong Laois revival.
"Laois are a physical team and play a strong running game," added McGuinness.
"The lads had to deal with that but they come out the other end of it.
"Overall, we are happy with our consistency. The work ethic has been good on and off the pitch.
"When you work hard you normally get your just rewards."
Donegal forward, Colm McFadden who scored a goal and three points in the 2-11 to 0-16 win, said they missed a chance to have the game sewn up earlier.
"It was encouraging to hold out to win against a fine Laois side," he said.
"We had a dream start to the second half, going seven points up, and the disappointing thing is that we did not close the game out at that stage.
"The momentum was with us until the sending-off."