Nicci Daly admits that she wasn't quite prepared for the comedown after the summer's Olympic Games.

After 12 years in green, the team finally reached the promised land as they made it all the way to Tokyo. But, after an encouraging victory over South Africa in their first match, it all went downhill from there.

They lost their next four games and missed out on a place in the knockout stages. Undoubtedly Ireland were in the tougher group as three of the four countries, including gold medallists the Netherlands, went on to contest the semi-finals.

Daly won her 200th and potentially final cap – she has stepped back from the set-up for now – in the defeat to Great Britain which saw Ireland exit the tournament.

And, speaking on RTÉ's We Become Heroes podcast, she admitted that it was surreal to come home after all the build-up.

"It's been an adjustment to say the least," she said.

"With Covid we had an extra year, so we had been talking about Tokyo 2020 for two years since we qualified in November of 2019.

"Every single day for two years you can only really see up to that point, and then the aftermath comes and you've never thought about it. You didn't plan for it, for what it might feel like.

"It's been a bit emotional. The comedown, you reflect back on that short timeframe that you were in the Olympics, and yet there was such a big build-up.

"Reflecting on it and how it went, but also the fact that it's over and you go back to what a normal life is. It's been interesting trying to find out what that 'normal life' is for the last few weeks."

Facing up to that reality is not something that Daly has done on her own.

Sport Ireland has offered supports to all Irish athletes who have returned from the Games in the form of both sports psychologists and strength and conditioning coaches.

"It's been great to have the support network from Sport Ireland and it's definitely been a huge help for me," Daly adds.

"In terms of the psychology, and having someone to talk to and understand it, because they've worked with so many athletes that have gone before."

Ireland booked their place at next year's World Cup – being hosted jointly by Spain and the Netherlands – by winning the European qualifying tournament in Pisa last month.

Daly has been involved with the set-up since the late 2000s, but it can be difficult to step away from such a successful group.

The Dubliner stops short of confirming her retirement, and instead leaves the door open for now.

"I've been in the team for 12 years and the Olympics, it was always the goal to get there," she acknowledges.

"I've always seen the end of the cycle, with the age I'm at and the time I've spent in the programme, as coming to an end. I'm in that process now of figuring out what the future holds.

"It's good to take the time post-Olympics, when emotions are a little all over the place, to assess where I am in my life, and in my career."

We Become Heroes is a podcast hosted by RTÉ Sport journalist Marie Crowe, featuring some of Ireland's biggest sports stars.

You can watch the interview with Nicci Daly above or listen on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.