A player who has battled against a debilitating illness for some months is now viewed as being central to Donegal's hopes of claiming a second All Ireland title.
Recurring injuries had meant that Christy Toye, now 31, was unable to start in any of the three successive Ulster finals in which his county participated prior to this year.
And when they reached a fourth provincial decider, Toye felt that he would miss the boat yet again.
But his resilience and spirit saw him return to full fitness and make his mark in the championship, earning the nod from manager Jim McGuinness for a starting place in the decider.
And if the Donegal players had particular reason to celebrate their win over Monaghan following last year's setback, for the quiet-spoken Toye their third title triumph since 2011 was extra-special.
"It was great to be part of the team on Sunday," reflected Toye, "We knew we were going in against a Monaghan side that had come through the harder side of the draw. I know it's a cliché but there is no point in looking beyond the team you are going to face next. So when we knew we would be meeting Monaghan we just set our sights on them," he said.
Toye's wholehearted display before being substituted drew lavish praise from his manager.
"I am absolutely delighted for Christy. He had a very bad illness and he was further away from being right for this final than anybody. But the shape he has got himself into reflects great credit on him. When you get an illness that can maybe end your career it takes a special person to come out on the other side – Christy is that person," McGuinness said.