It was also United’s first win in 10, with goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak returning to top form after a midweek blunder in the Dundee derby to deny the visitors here on a number of occasions.
But Donnelly said he had already seen a change in the players after ending their poor run and spoke of the importance of his side returning to winning ways thanks to a Chris Erskine strike.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a sense of relief on the back of the run we’ve been on,” he said. “It’s been difficult for everybody here, from the players right through to the supporters.
“It’s not been an easy run but it’s a good result for us to hopefully kick-start the last few games of the season.
“The lads are down there with smiles on their faces and a spring in their step again so it just shows you what difference a win makes to morale. It was an excellent strike from Chris Erskine to win us the match.
“It’s about trying to move on now and try to get as many wins as possible in the remaining games this season. We’ve still got two games in hand over Inverness and we feel that fourth place is still a target for us.
“Radoslaw Cierzniak was great in goal. It was tough on him what happened against Dundee but we know how good a keeper he is. He’s a very highly valued part of our squad and some of his saves were excellent.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton player-manager Martin Canning admitted he was left nursing major frustration yet again as the visitors’ winless streak stretched to 13 games.
Canning said: “It just highlights how frustrated we are as a team. It was just one of those days when the ball won’t go in the net for you.
“I felt we were by far the better team in the second half but when you’re on this sort of run that’s what happens.
“But I can’t ask any more of the boys. All I can do is keep sending them out there and preparing them as well as possible and hopefully results will change. It’s tough when you’re not winning – but they’re a great set of lads.
“We’re obviously disappointed not to be in the top six. But we’re still in a good place overall. Now we want to try to do as well as we can in the games which are left, even though we’re not in the top six.”