Down boss James McCartan praised his players after coming back from nine points down to beat Monaghan 1-14 to 1-13 in the Ulster SFC semi-final.
"Monaghan gave us a mountain to climb and we started to climb it," said the Mourne manager.
"It was a race against time and at one stage I thought it was going to be too much for us, but we kept plugging away.
"Decisions did not go our way but we didn't panic, and even after Freeman bagged the goal we didn't lose heart."
Down will play the winner of next week's game between Donegal and Tyrone in the provincial decider.
It was a stunning comeback from the Mourne men, who trailed 0-11 to 1-2 at half-time.
McCartan added: "Our first-half performance left a lot to be desired - it was hugely disappointing and nearly gave us too much to do.
"We have to give ourselves credit although I have to also give credit to Monaghan, who had a chance at the end but it didn't go over and it could have been a draw."