A GAA tale dark and Grimm...
THE SCENE: All-Ireland quarter-final boot camp. Teams who have travelled the meandering back roads of Ireland are convening at a top-secret location to plan their respective August ambushes. They will take advice from anyone - even potential future opponents - if it can mean prolonging the journey for another few weeks.
THE BROTHERS GRIMM: "Velcome all, let us introduce ourselves. Ve are Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and you may know us from your distant childhood as ze chroniclers of famous folk tales such as Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, etc etc. There is a statue of us in our home town in Germany (see picture). If you vant a fairytale come true, ve are the boys for you!"
THE BROTHER GRIMLEY: "So, let us get this straight ... youse write publications, youse make stuff up, youse work in the (spitting out the word) media?"
THE BROTHERS GRIMM: "Vell, if you vant to put it like that, correct."
THE BROTHER GRIMLEY: "Get me outta here!"
THE BROTHERS GRIMM: "Ah, Herr Grimley, as you say in Ireland, stall da digger! Ve can help you. How do you think our beloved Deutschland von the Vorld Cup? Tactics? Talent? Scheisse! (Editor: the German word for, err, bull's manure). It vas all down to our Vorld Cup boot camp. Ve put a spell on Messi for the final. Put him to sleep for 100 minutes, easy-peasy ... sure ve can put people to sleep for 100 years!"
THE BROTHER GRIMLEY: "Okay, okay, I'm listening ..."
THE ROUTED REBEL: "Hey boy, you shouldn't even be here - you haven't reached the quarter-finals yet. We're first! Now Brothers Grimm, we've a problem, as you might have seen against Kerry ... and now we've this Mayo shower. They bate us up in the league last March. How do we stop them?"
THE BROTHERS GRIMM: "Wonderbar! A villing student. Now, it's simple. You concoct a story that vill make Mayo the villain of the piece. You get the referee on your side. How about this: James Horan is the evil prince who sits at a stool in his castle bar (clever, heh?) and vorks on cunning fouling strategies that go unpunished - no black cards, maybe the odd yellow, no red. He gets his forwards to do sneaky blocks and jersey-pulls, in a land far, faraway from their own goalmouth ..."
THE ROUTED REBEL: "I gotcha. Let's be subtle, like, call 'em streetwise, 'cos it half-sounds like a compliment, but remind the ref, nudge-wink, that you better watch out for that Cillian O'Connor boy and any of his tactical fouling."
THE BROTHERS GRIMM: "Eureka!"
THE BROTHER GRIMLEY: "Forgive me for butting in, but do youse think it's that easy? Do youse not know your history? I mean Donegal last year: Jim McGuinness lamenting the rough and potentially dangerous treatment of his players, Rory Gallagher going on about 'collusion' between Mayo and Monaghan and about James Horan talking to a 'premeditated script' ... care to recall how that one panned out?"
THE ROUTED REBEL: "Feck - stop the presses! Has De Paper hit the streets?"
THE BROTHER GRIMLEY: "Here's what you do: issue a statement through one of your trusted 'friends' in the (more spitting) media and explain how you were taken totally out of context, that Mayo are a wonderful sporting team that deserve an All-Ireland, and any inference to the contrary can be blamed squarely on hysterical reporting."
THE BROTHERS GRIMM: "Hmmm, Brother Grimley, you have a warped mind but I like it. You sound like someone with a special talent for story-telling. How, then, do you propose that Routed Rebel should proceed this weekend?
THE BROTHER GRIMLEY: "Accept your invitation to Croke Park, go up, smile for the cameras ... but tell 'em nawthin."
ROUTED REBEL: "Never mind the press conference, we've a match this Sunday. What do we do?"
THE BROTHER GRIMLEY: "As I said, go to Croker, smile for the cameras, do the parade (only if you have to, they're trouble) ... but tell 'em nawthin."
THE BROTHERS GRIMM: "And what shall we call this bizarre tale?"
THE BROTHER GRIMLEY: "Snow White Armagh and the Siege Mentality."
ROUTED REBEL: "And we all lived unhappily ever after."