BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT CROKE PARK
IT’S just over two years ago since Christy Toye was carried off MacCumhaill Park with a ruptured achillies during a low-key qualifier against Clare.
The St Michael’s star has watched in agony for the last 24 months itching to get back into a Donegal shirt, but found persistent injury problems to constantly thwart his comeback.
On Saturday night, the Dublin sky was darkening and the All Ireland quarter-final was heading for the melting pot. Christy Toye was summonsed from his seat in the Hogan Stand.
Within seconds, the marauding Frank McGlynn fed Toye in front of goal at the Hill 16 end and in one cunning move he slotted an arrow into the far corner of Shane Connolly’s net.
The golden strike evoked memories of his goal at the same end in the All Ireland semi-final of 2003.
It was like he was never away.
“Jim said ‘you’re going in there now, I want you to make a run towards goal’,” said Toye.
“I did that and lucky enough the play went straight after I came on and thankfully I got on it. The defender hadn’t picked me up and thank God I managed to put it in the corner.
“It’s nice to get the run out and getting the goal was nice as well. Ultimately it was a team performance that won that game. The extra time really showed the fitness that we have and it’s fantastic to be in a semi-final.”
The former county captain has endured quite the injury hell in the last 24 months, but what a time to get on the mend.
“It’s been a long time,” he said.
“I’ve had two operations on the ankle and it’s been hard to get the fitness back.
“Even now, I’d have a lot of work to do to getting back to being able to make a big impact at intercounty level. I have four weeks now to make a good impression. Hopefully I can get a couple of games under my belt now and impress the management.
“It’s difficult. Even at training when I went back first the intensity levels were a lot different to what I’d have experienced in the past. When you’re out for a year, it’s hard to find that.
“I’ve been feeling good in training this last couple of weeks, so hopefully now I can push on a bit. I have a month now to make the impression.”
Toye is just four weeks away from a second All Ireland semi-final – and he intends to do everything in his power to ensure he’s in McGuinness’ plans.
He said: “I would need three good weeks of training and some game time with the club too. That should bring me on leaps and bounds for the next game.”
Donegal didn’t score in normal time after Toye’s 58th minute goal and allowed Kildare back to force extra time.
“From the goal, we probably didn’t push on like we should have to win the game,” Toye said.
“But at the same time, Kildare made it difficult for us. They’re a big, physical team and they’re very fit.
“We showed in extra time, when we got the two points late to win the game, that we’re right up there fitness-wise too.”
In extra time, Toye also delivered the goods right when they were needed. Kildare looked set for the last four when Toye drilled over a dramatic equalising score that preceded Cassidy’s dramatic winner.
He said: “This year we’ve been able to go right to the end and that’s been a big thing. I suppose we showed that at the end when people thought that Kildare had the game in the bag.
“People thought we’d buckle, but we didn’t.”