Shamrock Rovers, FC Shkupi and ‘evil’ airport-related bureaucracy

·6-min read
<span>Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA</span>
Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA


Anyone who has flown through Dublin airport in recent months will probably be aware it is suffering from huge problems. Staff shortages in all areas have resulted in the kind of lengthy queues for cancelled or delayed flights that compel frustrated passengers to tweet their dissatisfaction to followers who don’t care because the misfortune is being suffered by somebody else and besides … apologies, The Fiver is digressing. On Tuesday night, League of Ireland champions Shamrock Rovers take on North Macedonian side FC Shkupi in the second leg of their Big Vase qualifying round, knowing a win will guarantee them group-stage action at the very least this season. The Super Hoops are 3-1 up from the first leg in Tallaght and will almost certainly have flown to Skopje International airport full of optimism, unless of course their hosts engineered a revenge plot to divert their plane elsewhere.

You see, last week the players and officials of Shkupi were left mighty miffed when their charter plane to Dublin was diverted to Shannon on the other side of the country, due to a paucity of landing slots at their preferred destination. But while their frustration at this inconvenience was entirely understandable it was also misplaced, as they blamed the “evil” to which they had been subjected on a carefully orchestrated government conspiracy, rather than the usual common-or-garden Irish bureaucratic incompetence.

“Despite our budget, we were trying to keep our players comfortable by hiring a charter plane and paying thousands of euros to ensure our players could make it to [Big Vase] in good health but the Irish government did not listen to Uefa, despite the intervention of Uefa, [and] landed us 300km from Dublin and gave our team undeserved treatment on this journey,” they railed on social media disgraces. “We would like to say to the Irish that they should know well that we have a very characterful team. The reward of being a team is to respond as a team to the evil done to you.” While it behoves The Fiver’s inner pedant to point out that Shannon airport is actually only 215km from Rovers’ Tallaght Stadium, as a daily email that has been forced into an identical Irish cross-country schlep by a well known low-fares airline, we certainly feel Shkupi’s pain.

Safely back at home, one suspects their players will be in little need of a motivational team-talk from Goce Sedloski, their manager, who might be well advised to print off a giant map of Ireland and pin it to the home dressing-room wall. Pointing to the thick line running coast-to-coast along the M7 from Shannon, through Limerick and the provincial towns of Nenagh, Portlaoise, Kildare, Newbridge, Naas and on to Tallaght, he can remind them of the “evil” they were forced to endure. Having said that, it’s quite a scenic and not-altogether-unpleasant trip, especially if you break it up with a stop-off in Romanos on Nenagh’s Clare Street for fish and chips.


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