herald

Monday 20 November 2017

Hoping for some divine help, lads? Trap, Enda and Delaney to climb Croagh Patrick ahead of Euro finals

IT MAY not be the sermon on the mount but three wise men -- Giovanni Trapattoni, Enda Kenny and John Delaney -- are planning on climbing Croagh Patrick.

The Ireland manager will use the opportunity to reflect on the team selection for the opening game for Euro 2012.

Just as Jack Charlton made a special visit to John Paul II with his team ahead of Rome 1990, Trapattoni has pledged to make the pilgrimage with the Taoiseach and the FAI chief executive.

Whether it's in search of divine inspiration or perspiration -- the three leaders want to make the climb ahead of the opening game against Croatia in Poznan.

And the Ireland football manager has put the date of the challenge in stone -- just three weeks before the team are assembled.

"It started off as a throw-away comment and then it just grew traction," a source told the Herald. "After we qualified for the Euro championship when we beat Estonia, John Delaney made a reference that Trapattoni was thinking of going to climb Croagh Patrick.

"It was picked up by a few people and went from there."

Mayo man Taoiseach Enda Kenny, a regular Croagh Patrick climber, picked up on the comment and took up the challenge.



OPERATION

"The next thing the Taoiseach heard about it and he wanted to make it a reality. The Taoiseach said that he would like to 'go up the hill', as he put it," the source said.

Mr Kenny has made further contact with the FAI president last week and they have now put the plan into action.

"It will take place on April 28, which is just before the Euro championship," the source added.

Trapattoni has recovered fully from a routine operation to clear an artery and all three are fighting fit.

But it's understood that all three are planning to tackle Croagh Patrick in their shoes and won't attempt to walk up the steep mountain barefoot like other pilgrims.

The Republic of Ireland have secured warm-up matches against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary on May 26 and June 4.

The team is already scheduled to play the Czech Republic on February 29.

The team will be based at a training camp at Montecatini near Florence between the two matches.

FAI chief executive John Delaney has also confirmed that the FAI had made representations in a bid to secure extra tickets for supporters. An estimated 20-25,000 Irish supporters are expected to travel over for the games this summer.

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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