Not so long ago Colm McCullagh hovered on the periphery of the Tyrone side rather than being regarded as an automatic first-choice player.
Today a Red Hands line-up without the incomparable Dromore clubman would be deemed incomplete.
And no wonder. The blond bombshell has been in spectacular form for Mickey Harte’s team of late and his personal contribution to their journey into the All Ireland final has been considerable.
Yet he would still maintain that had the players taken more cognisance of the reaction of their followers to that Ulster Championship defeat by Down, they would not be in Sunday’s decider.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, we accept that, but if we had listened to everything that was said and taken it to heart, we might not be playing Kerry. We instead just knuckled down again and got on with trying to improve and thankfully things have been working out for us so far,” points out McCullagh.
The cultured forward, who won a Tyrone county championship medal with Dromore last year, turned his back on a blossoming career in soccer to give his total commitment to the Red Hands.
It was with Omagh Town and Newry Town that McCullagh underlined his potential to reach a high level in soccer but a combination of his own yearning for success and Mickey Harte’s persuasive tongue brought him into the Tyrone panel.
Since then he has cemented his reputation as one of the most accomplished players in the province.
But he insists that if they are to succeed on Sunday, Tyrone will have to scale new heights.
“Much has been made in particular of our win over Dublin but, to be truthful, everything went right for us that day and everything went wrong for Dunlin. That does not happen too often in a big championship match. I don’t think it will occur on Sunday,” states McCullagh, “Kerry’s achievements in recent years have been well documented. They’re going for three in a row and naturally they are confident. This is really the final that everyone wanted because of the fact that we have been something of a bogey side to Kerry.
“But that does not give us any real advantage going into Sunday’s game. Each of the teams will bring their own particular strengths into play and I have a feeling that it’s going to prove a memorable match from every viewpoint.”