Ireland captain Katie Mullan believes her team “have put hockey on the map” back home following the silver medal at the World Cup.
The Green Army, the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament, upset the odds to reach the last two in London but were outclassed in Sunday’s 6-0 loss to defending women’s champions Holland.
Graham Shaw’s side will receive a civic reception hosted by the Lord Mayor of Dublin tonight in honour of their achievement.
Ireland’s previous best finish in the competition was 11th place in 1994 and Mullan feels the team have helped create a lasting legacy.
“We’ve been living in a bit of a bubble so I don’t think we really realise what is going on at home so that’s something really exciting to go back to,” Mullan told BT Sport 3. “I really think we’ve put hockey on the map and we’ve made a real difference.
“You want to inspire the next generation and sometimes you don’t really think about it but now I think we’ve definitely done that and it’s more than we ever could have imagined.
“We wanted to come here and cause an upset, and flip me, we’ve caused an upset.
“All the girls have enjoyed every single second of it.
“It’s stories like this, this is why we all play sport and it’s amazing talking to people from other nations, literally everyone was behind us because we did something really, really special. I’m just so proud of the girls.”
The Dutch, who registered 29 goals in five matches to reach the final, retained the trophy won on home soil four years ago with ease and have now won the competition a record eight times.