Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it - Greg Anderson
The waiting is almost over. At 7.45 tomorrow evening a country will watch in anticipation as the Irish soccer team begin their Euro 2012 journey. As ever for Ireland it is not how far they get, but how they get there.
Indeed it is not an easy group to escape out of. However with a bit of luck Ireland can make it out alive. The first match is crucial to any aspirations though. Croatia are licking their lips at the prospect of pummeling a perceived minnow of the tournament.
So will Ireland be throttled like many analysts would expect? Undoubtedly Croatia have their strengths in the form of the fluid Luka Modric whilst they possess a potent attack in the shape of Nikica Jelavic and Eduardo.
However taking a closer look at their qualification, it is not overly impressive. Whilst they may have easily overcome Turkey in the playoffs, they came second to Greece, failing to beat them in either qualification encounter. Added to that they also lost to Georgia in the qualifying rounds.
Many have criticized Ireland's route saying their group was too easy. Admittedly it was not the strongest, but Malta, Israel and Latvia were Croatia's only other opponents. Hardly a fear invoking set of teams.
Ireland meanwhile will need their big men to shine. Richard Dunne has to continue to be the giant that Jack met at the top of the beanstalk, whilst they will need Robbie Keane to make the most of any chances that come his way. It would be hugely exciting to see what James McClean could bring to the game with 20 minutes to go.
Perhaps the most comforting thing for Ireland is that there is a clear vision in how they will approach the game. They will look to soak up Croatia's pressure and score from a set piece. The first game of the tournament is also the most ideal time for these kind of tactics to work as Croatia may still be relatively rusty playing together again.
Ireland do tend to ride their luck a bit too much however. A moment of incision from Modric could be fatal. On the other hand Ireland are quite prolific from set pieces and one goal may well be enough to secure at he very least an invaluable point.
It will be a roller coaster of emotion. Ireland's journey begins.Win, lose or draw they will bring all their positive aspects to the party. Passion, endeavour, pride and hope. Meanwhile come 7.45 on a summers evening a nation will once more hold its breath.
Prediction: Ireland 1-1 Croatia