Aaron Connolly scored a brace of goals on his 23rd birthday for Hull City at the weekend as the Championship side won their first game at home since early October.
For Connolly, the goals were a sign that calmer waters may be ahead following a rough patch in his career. The Galway man joined Hull on loan from Brighton after a disappointing spell in Italy with Venezia.
He scored goals in both halves on Saturday, either side of an own goal, as Hull defeated QPR 3-0. Shortly before opening the scoring after 10 minutes, Connolly had missed a good chance.
However, Connolly said Hull manager Liam Rosenior - who was on the books with Brighton during Connolly's time as a youth player - has instilled new confidence in the Ireland international.
"After the first chance that I missed, usually, that would probably play on my mind a little bit, but the gaffer has already told me that the top strikers miss chances all the time, it's how they react to them when they get the second chance," Connolly told Hull Live.
"Thankfully, I reacted to the second chance I got well and the ball from Mika helped, to put that one away makes it a good day. At times, I overthink chances and when the ball falls to me inside the box, it's confidence with strikers.
"Probably last season, I snatch at that and it goes over the bar and into the stand. It's confidence and the gaffer has given me that confidence. My performances last year at Middlesbrough and in the back end of my time at Brighton, I probably didn't get fouled as much as I have in these two games from centre-halves.
"I've shown that aggressive side to my game which has got me to where I've got to, and maybe I relaxed in that side of my game and expected every day to be a 'two-goal against Tottenham day' or a 'two-goal everyday game' but you have to fight, you have to work hard and you get your rewards.
"For the first goal, I had to run back, win the ball and then the chance falls to me in the box. It's that side of the game that I'm really enjoying, and hopefully, we can now really push forward."
Aaron Connolly brace for Hull vs QPR
Connolly came off after 84 minutes on Saturday to a standing ovation from the home crowd.
"Yes, it was big," said Connolly.
"Justin (Walker) - the assistant manager - thought I'd be chewing at that (being brought off). I just tried to work as hard as I could for the team, and it's nice to come off with something like that, and it did mean a lot.
"After the couple of years I've had, and to get something like that, to repay the manager and Justin's faith - they were big when I came up to meet them."
🎂 23rd Birthday
⚽️ Two Goals
👏 Standing Ovation
🔥 @EFL TOTW
Some Saturday for @AaronConnolly_9! 💪#hcafc pic.twitter.com/ZXzR0RMTV3
— Hull City (@HullCity) January 30, 2023