Manager David Jeffrey hailed man of the match Jamie Mulgrew as Linfield's hero after their 2-1 win over Crusaders in the Irish Cup final at Windsor Park.
Mulgrew came on as a substitute and played a part in the goals scored by Peter Thompson and Mark McAllister.
"Jamie turned the game for us - there is no doubt about that," said Jeffrey.
"He was unfortunate in some ways to be left out and it was a difficult decision for me, but there was no way he was not going to figure."
Mulgrew admitted he had been "pretty devastated" when told he was not in the starting line-up.
He came on as a substitute in the 63rd minute, replacing Philip Lowry.
"I wanted to be involved and all I could do was try to do something when I got on the pitch," said Mulgrew.
"The manager told me to try to make a difference.
"It was a magnificent effort by the boys. It has been a tough season."
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter said: "I thought an odd goal would win it, and they got it.
"We got the first goal but then absorbed too much pressure and backed up a little bit.
"I am proud of our efforts. The players were fantastic and I could not ask any more of them."