Skier Brian Dowling was set for a hero's welcome when he returned to Gorey after the challenge of his life competing at the world masters ski racing championships in Innsbruck in Austria.
To his surprise, the games went better than he could have ever hoped.
He left Ireland hoping for a top 50 finish, against all odds he ended up being placed 31st in his last race, and coming in at 43rd and 45th in his first races.
'It was an unbelievable result given the standard of competition and racing conditions, it was the toughest race of my career.
'I started with a training day with Team Canada, and I was definitely confident but nothing prepares you for the Olympic Downhill run, it's always dark, narrow, steep and dangerous and you're on bullet proof ice in flat light.
'I knew it'd be a tough test after I looked at the start list of 390 competitors, 174 of whom were Austrian,' said Brian.
After a challenging few days, which saw him having to get stitches on his hand after injury when he was involved in a crash and even a mishap or two, it wasn't until day three that Brian was back to prove his worth once more.
'It was the Mens Giant Slalom, my best discipline and the steep icy track was one of the most technical course sets I had ever come across. Not only was it icy, with added chemicals and water, it was like skiing on a mirror. At that point, I wondered what I was doing to myself'.
Brian said it was a battle, but he managed to finish in 45th place.
The following day, Brian was more relaxed and had his coaches at his back saying he was ready.
He crossed the finish line in one minute and eight seconds, with a huge roar from the crowd.
'I put my hands in the air and let it all out, everything I had, physically, mentally and technically, it was all left on that hill, it was so emotional but really amazing'.
Brian said that he found the whole experience humbling, and was delighted with the support from his coaches and physio, his family, his locality as well as sponsors, from Gorey's Sprint Design IC, Courtown Adventure and Leisure Centre as well as Salomon Racing Ireland.
Brian now returns to his day job at Gorey Community School, where he also runs the ski club. He'll then consider where his ski career goes next.