Winger Andrew Trimble turned in a man of the match display for Ireland to finish a superb Six Nations championship in Paris for the Ulsterman.
Overlooked for last year’s campaign by former Irish coach, Declan Kidney, Trimble again found himself out in the cold for last November’s Test series in Dublin.
His form with Ulster in between November and the lead-in to this year’s Six Nations was top notch, not perhaps suffering the dips he had experienced in the past at the same corresponding figures.
He banised the memories and played a major role in seeing Ireland over the line as they defeated France in Paris 22-20 and secured a first Six Nations title since the Grand Slam winning team of 2009.
The 29-year-old was elated after the game and reflected on a solid campaign - and had it not been for the O’Driscoll factor in the close to thsi champinoship he might well have picked up the manof the match medal to go with his Championship medal.
Trimble said: “More often than not, I’ve underperformed for Ireland.
“I’ve been a bit fed up letting opportunities slip. This is definitely the high point of my career.”
Having reached his 50th cap prior to this championship over the summer on the North American tour, it had appeared prior to that he had falled behind Simon Zebo, Craig Gilroy and Keith Earls during the Kidney reign.
Trimble said advice from new Ireland coach Joe Schmidt helped rejuvenate his international career.
“I sat down with the likes of Joe and Mervyn Murphy, our video analyst, and went through some things,” he said.
“I’ve worked on little bits and pieces and finally it has all come together and to put it together with the Championship means the world to me.
“The hard work has paid off and it means so much.”
Trimble did not play in Ireland’s Autumn Tests, including the epic defeat by New Zealand, but he was already receiving encouragement from the new coach.
“Joe was ringing me regularly and keeping me involved and that was important.”
By the start of February, Schmidt had picked Trimble for Ireland’s opening Six Nations game against Scotland and he remained a permanent presence in the team for the remainder of the Championship.
His try in Saturday’s win, Ireland’s second of three in the Stade de France was his third touchdown of the Six Nations as he answered Schmidt’s faith in the best possible way.
“We’ve just put in eight weeks of really, really hard work, on the pitch and off the pitch,” added Trimble.
“It shows if you put in the hard work, and we’ve got the talent, the players and the coach, that we can get the results.”