I wowed an impressionable mind this week. The boy looked on perplexed as I took a permanent marker to an old t-shirt and wrote the words “Ask me who’s going to win the All-Ireland” on it.
I proceeded to envelope myself in the defaced garment in the usual fashion, then sported another top over it – concealing the scrawled instruction. I took the boy to a family function and told him I had granted the gift of x-ray vision to all our relations. The lad was agog as one after another the men shook my hand, told me I was putting on weight, and asked me who was going to win the All-Ireland. Familiarity with the rhythms of the season present irresistible opportunities for sorcery.
Not content with being given the winner of the All-Ireland, everyone also wants an absurdly big price on a ‘dark horse’. It’s a curious phrase. Back when I devoted more time to studying horse racing, rather than unravelling county championship structures that would exasperate the Bletchley Park Enigma team, it seemed to me that dark horses actually won most races. Grey horses on the other hand were seldom paraded in the winners enclosure.
This year Donegal are the grey horse. They remain at a big price – 33/1 for the All-Ireland. Though if everyone expects them to overachieve then surely their bar of expected achievement has moved? However, while we are busy tying ourselves up in complicated knots of logic, there is a man bracing against a sandy Bundoran gale stroking a 66/1 docket that could yet pay for relocation to a sunnier seaside resort.
Acid tests used to involve Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon album, now every time an important match is played it is apparently an acid test. Donegal have one against Antrim on Sunday. We’ve made them four-point favourites, but we are on the Dark Side Of The Antrim Injury News. A gush of wellbeing among McCanns and McGourtys would certainly increase Antrim’s chances of repeating the magnificent scalping of their hosts in 2009. I side with the Grey Horse to clear this hurdle, however, and move on to greater Acid Tests. Donegal -4 points at 10/11 the fancy.