Jack McCaffrey says his journey back from a ruptured cruciate ligament injury brought him to a dark place.
The 2015 Footballer of the Year sustained the dreaded knee injury during the early stages of last September's All-Ireland SFC final victory over Mayo but was clearly back to his brilliant best in Saturday night's semi-final win over Galway at Croke Park.
"It's hands down the toughest thing I've had to do in sport," the 24-year-old Clontarf clubman told The Irish Daily Star. "The hardest work I've ever had to put in, but it's been really, really rewarding.
"It's great to have been involved in days like Saturday - and now leading up to a final, knowing that you really put in a good shift to get there and that it's coming to fruition.
"When you're on your own in the gym and just meeting up with the physio to do a bit of running, it's a very different challenge. You have to go to a bit of a dark place at times and power through it.
"It was the first time I've ever had to do that and, touch wood, the last - but I think it's really stood to me having had to do it."