A WINTRY wind and rain were whipping around the courtyard of Government Buildings yesterday as the manager of the Irish football team and the CEO of Ireland Inc emerged onto the steps together.
It wasn't the most auspicious of weather to be launching a climb of Croagh Patrick, but Enda Kenny and Giovanni Trapattoni were undaunted.
But with a bit of luck -- and our Taoiseach appears to be a charmed sort of chap -- the sun will be beating down on the famous Mayo mountain when the two men head for the summit on Saturday, April 28.
Nor will they be alone. For this is a fundraising outing in aid of a range of local charities, and anyone not heading east towards Poland for the Euro finals is being encouraged to take part.
The Taoiseach had a big, bright sign with him, which read, 'Enda's Trek with Trap's Green Army'.
The idea is that climbers will make a donation of €20 a head -- with under-16s going free -- and all proceeds will be donated to a variety of charities, including Mayo Mountain Rescue, the John Giles Foundation in Association with Three, Mayo/Roscommon Hospice, the Western Alzheimer's Association and the Western Care Association.
And Enda was quite confident that the hill would be alive with the sound of 'Here we go, here we go, here we go'.
"We hope that anything up to 5,000 people will take part," he said. "I'm quite sure a huge crowd will turn out to climb the Reek for a good cause."
Pointing to the dapper Mr Giovanni and describing him as "the most famous man in Ireland", Enda explained how the Italian had a massive following among young people.
"I'm sure a lot of Irish sports clubs will send people to Mayo, and perhaps even a few of our well-known sports stars will help out -- though not any of the football team in case they turn an ankle," he added prudently.
Then Giovanni presented the Taoiseach with his very own shirt, with 'Kenny' emblazoned over the number 10.
Happily they picked this number and not seven, which could've sparked uncomfortable comparisons to beleaguered Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish.
"I'm going to wear this on the mountaintop," said Enda cheerfully.
"If it's a fine day we'll all wear our jerseys -- if it's not, it'll still be the Green Army".
The whole wheeze took root after the Italian visited the mountain a few months after taking charge of the Irish team in 2008 and promised to take on the challenge when Ireland qualified for a major championship.
Last November, after Trap's colourful cat was safely in the sack, he declared: "I must decide when I will go to Croagh Patrick."
"The idea began after he mentioned climbing Croagh Patrick and I said that if Trap wants to go to the top, I'll take him up myself," explained the Taoiseach.
Of course, Action Man Enda is no stranger to the Mayo mountain, given that it's practically in his backyard. Nor will he find the ascent a serious challenge, having made it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2003 on a charity climb.
"It's a very appropriate time to do the climb, just before the Euro finals, and hopefully it'll give the team a boost," he said.
Lurking by the steps was a small huddle of half-frozen sports reporters who pounced on Giovanni as he parted company with Enda.
So which is the bigger mountain, Trap? Croagh Patrick or Group C?
"Both are tough," he smilingly shrugged.
Good luck with the climb, Giovanni. Break a leg. But only metaphorically speaking.
Enda's Trek with Trap's Green Army takes place on Saturday, April 28, at 12 noon. Donation of €20 per climber, under-16s free.