Hockey hero Lizzie Colvin back at work after World Cup
Hockey star Lizzie Colvin received a rapturous reception when she returned to work yesterday just three days after playing in the World Cup final.
She is one of six Ulster girls in the squad that took Ireland to their first World Cup in 16 years, with dramatic wins over Spain and India.
Ireland women's hockey team upset the odds to reach the final, where they fell to world number one side the Netherlands.
Despite that defeat, Graham Shaw's side are now ranked eighth in the world and Lizzie couldn't be more proud of the team's gallant efforts which earned them silver medals.
"It has been a whirlwind few weeks and the reaction we have received since we returned home has been amazing," she said.
"To say that we have been in a World Cup final is something that we could only ever have dreamed of and it has been such an incredible journey. The last few weeks have been so much fun and, most importantly, we have enjoyed every moment."
The former Armagh player now has a new fan club at Belfast law firm DWF, where she works as a solicitor, having moved back home last year after seven years with Dublin side Loreto.
Lizzie says she is extremely grateful to her employers for their understanding of the commitments that come with being an international hockey player.
"Thankfully my boss Ken Rutherford, who has played hockey for Ulster and Ireland, was very supportive when I told him that I was going to the World Cup," she said.
"I had told him it would probably only be a two-week tournament, as we would get knocked out. He had been following our progress and realised that I was going to be off for a bit longer, so in the end it was four weeks. The great reception everyone gave me and all of their lovely messages certainly made it a lot easier going back to the office. A lot of my co-workers who knew very little about hockey have taken a great interest in it, so we've got a few more fans in the office now."
Like several members of the Ireland squad, Lizzie has had to juggle her hockey ambitions with the demands of full-time work. In the build-up to the World Cup in London the Ireland players were training five times a week.
Lizzie has been proudly displaying the silver medal she won at the event, but is still unsure about where it will ultimately take pride of place.
"Some people have told me that I should get it framed, but I would prefer to have it always ready to go, in case people want to have a closer look. It's got a few teeth marks in it at the moment from all the pictures, so I'll need to give it a good polish," she said.
The Belfast Harlequins midfielder, who has been capped more than 160 times, says she inherited her love of hockey from her mum Rosie, who, along with her sister, is a former player.
Lizzie got engaged to South African Matthew Holden in Salzburg, Austria, back on January 5, her 28th birthday, and the pair are planning to wed in late 2019.
She joked earlier this week that her father Peter might have to increase the wedding budget to accommodate 17 extra bridesmaids made up of her team-mates.
While wedding plans will be next on the agenda, for now Lizzie is taking a well-earned rest from hockey, although escaping the sight of a pitch isn't easy.
"I live right beside the Harlequins ground, so I can see the pitch from my bedroom window - but I won't be venturing onto it for a while," she added.