If ever there was an image to embody the performance of the team, Paul Gleghorne’s slinged up arm with blood dripping from his knuckles captured it.
The player of the match against England, still out of breath, was extolling an “absolutely brilliant performance from all the lads” in the mixed zone, while nursing a grade two tear to muscles in his shoulder.
The injury was sustained two days earlier in the first quarter against the Netherlands but the Belfast man worked through any perceived pain to put in a performance of a lifetime.
He was quick to praise the backroom team who gave him the fighting chance of lining out.
“The physio, the team doctor and medical staff were absolutely superb. They got me out here, through the Dutch game and this game!” he said.
“Hopefully I haven’t done any more damage, making tackles on the floor and so on. Adrenaline kicks in and took over the pain.”
As for personal sacrifices, Gleghorne had to take two weeks unpaid off work to make it to the tournament, and compete at this elite level, taking on a number of teams without such concerns.
“Work have been fantastic and been really supported me. It’s worked out well because we really want to prepare as best we can for these tournaments. I am really appreciative of that and there is a lot of guys in the team that take leave to come here and play.”
Asked whether he could ask for more? “Gold would have been better! But, being the first Irish team to medal at a European championships, it’s a fantastic achievement.”
Next on his agenda is a gig as best man to elder brother Mark’s wedding; perhaps a wry reference to the bronze medal match may make an appearance in the speeches.
The injury to Gleghorne and also to Ronan Gormley, meanwhile, meant that Matthew Bell was to play a more prominent role in the bronze game.
And the young Banbridge man produced probably his best performance to date in green, regularly cleaning out dirty ball amid a crowded circle and showing ambition on the counter-attack.
Bell said “it doesn’t get much better” than the feeling of beating England in their own back yard.
“Part of me was saying after losing to the Dutch that we wanted to play the English. In front of a full house and silencing them somewhat!
“It doesn’t get much better. From the very start, our priority was to make the semi-finals. We’ve played the top five teams in the world in the last year and done very well so we had confidence coming into the tournament and it’s great to see, having put the hard work in, it’s finally paid off.”