If David Haye can give Goliath the guts of seven stone, nine inches and hit and run his way to the mother of all heavyweight wins, then surely Ireland stand a decent chance of upsetting the footballing giants of France, starting with this weekend’s World Cup play-off first leg at Croke Park. Or is that fairytale thinking?
The initial head-in-hands reaction to the draw has been replaced by a quiet confidence that the French are, cough, splutter, there for the taking. Whether that uneasy sense of optimism is misplaced patriotism or an accurate assessment of where the former world and European champions are at, only time, or precisely 180 minutes, will tell.
Giovanna Trapattoni is typically upbeat, reckoning his much-maligned counterpart Raymond Domenech et al will be running scared of his banana skin Republic. Instilling self-belief in his side is obviously a prerequisite given the should-be gulf in standards between an even understrength France and an Irish team whose spirit under the Italian amounts to a considerable sum given its relatively modest parts.
Their opponents, by contrast, are packed with individual brilliance, but apparently brittle in the bonding department.
Here’s hoping Eamon Dunphy’s suspect temperament doesn’t have reason to surface on Saturday, though we could be winning at ‘half-time’ and he still wouldn’t be happy. That said, who won’t be all eyes and ears – and how we’ll complain if RTÉ, purveyors of ‘Podge and Rodge’ and ‘The Panel’, don’t buy the rights to the return leg. Let’s get ready to rumble.