BY CHRIS MCNULTY
JIM McGuinness hailed Christy Toye’s influence as the St Michael’s man marked his 50th Championship game win Sunday’s Ulster final win.
Toye became only the third Donegal player ever to enter the 50 club – after Michael Hegarty and Colm McFadden – completing a magnificent comeback season.
Toye was shot down by trigemenal neuralgia last year and his Donegal career looked to have been over, but the Creeslough man has bounced back as strong as ever. Sunday’s was the fist time for Toye to start in a winning Ulster final.
“Delighted for Christy Toye,” beamed McGuinness.
“He had a very bad illness and he was so far away from it. I’m thrilled because he had to work so hard. Form can go up or down but an illness can end your career.”
McGuinness opted to leave Patrick McBrearty in reserve for the final, but the Kilcar man scored three splendid points after coming on for Darach O’Connor in the first half. It was his best performance of the summer and a reminder that he has the ability to lead the line.
McGuinness said: “It’s fantastic. It wasn’t easy. We knew that Patrick would make an impact on the game. I’m sure that Monaghan had match-ups in their minds. We didn’t want to give them that. We wanted to have legs off the bench and all of the subs did really well.
“We were disappointed to be only two up at half time. We probably should have been eight-four up. You have to keep believing and keep driving. You have to keep the mentality right and keep pushing on.
“That’s what they did and even the goal didn’t faze them in the second half. They responded really, really well.”
Chris McGuinness netted for Monaghan in the 50th minute to bring the Farney back to within a point, but Donegal regrouped again.
The Donegal boss said: “We played today as if we weren’t going to be beat. We conceded a goal midway through the second half. That didn’t impact on the mentality.”
Beaten in the Division 2 League final at Croke Park in April, there were those who said Donegal had been found out by Monaghan.
McGuinness said: “The league final didn’t rock us. Tactically, there were four or five things we were working on and it wasn’t easy sometimes biting my lip on the sideline. But we had to look at the bigger picture, not disrespect to the league or anything. We had to prioritise.”