This time last year Mark McHugh had opted to take a break and was packing his bags and getting ready for a summer in the Big Apple.
Roll the clock forward 12 months and the 2012 All-Star is back and itching to reclaim his place in the Donegal starting 15, and make his mark once again in 2015.
“Last year I took a step back. I’m not saying I wasn’t enjoying the game, but I felt I just needed to get away for a break,” said Mark
“It was the right decision for me at the time. I wasn’t playing well, I wasn’t any good to the team and my head was not right in it.
“I felt if I wasn’t any good to the team, there was no point in hanging around. I enjoyed my break and my time in a America and I’m glad to be back now. I have no regrets about taking the year out.
“The break helped me and when I got back into training again at the start of the year, I was buzzing again and really happy. I’m really enjoying being back and part of the set-up.”
Last summer, one of the stars of 2012 and the glorious run to the county’s second All- Ireland triumph, found himself keeping up to date with the team’s progress from the Big Apple.
“I was texting them all, I was texting Jim before each big game. I was so happy for them, because the amount of work that goes in behind the scenes with any county team is crazy,” he explained.
Mark returned just in time for the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin.
“Everybody had written Donegal off before that game but Jim got the tactics right for the game and Donegal blew Dublin away. It was a brilliant performance and a super result.
“I was gutted for them after the All-Ireland final and yes, I would have loved to have been playing in the final. I woke up the morning of the All-Ireland and there was a pain in the pit of my stomach. I thought wouldn’t it be great to be playing. But the decision I made, I stuck by it. It did not work out for them on the day, but I think that defeat to Kerry will stick by them and it will drive them on to do better this year.”