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A NORTH MACEDONIA football side has said having to land at Shannon Airport instead of Dublin was an act of “evil”.

Despite the ease of access at Shannon proving very popular in comparison with the thousands of passengers who missed at flights due to queuing chaos at Dublin, the diversion was slammed by FC Shkupi ahead of their Europa League third round qualifier with Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght.

Shamrock Rovers recorded a 3-1 first leg win over FC Shkupi in their first leg encounter, a much tighter contest was expected giving the fighting talk espoused by the North Macedonia men before kick-off.

In a statement on Thursday, the club accused the Irish Government of not listening to a plea from UEFA to assist them in landing in the capital and said clubs from Italy, Spain, Germany or England would have been treated better. “Unfortunately this has not been done to any other team except the North Macedonian team, our loneliness has emerged again as we progressed on the European road”.

“Despite our budget, we were trying to keep our players comfortable by hiring a charter plane and paying thousands of euros to ensure that our players could make it to the Europa League (tie) in good health but the Irish government did not listen to UEFA, despite the intervention of UEFA, landed us 300km from Dublin and gave our team and undeserved treatment on this journey”. Shannon Airport is 215km from Tallaght Stadium and not 300 as stated by FC Shkupi.

“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. In the same, today our team will show you a character it is, like lions on the field, it will show that there is no team that will not bow down to such cheap games, such cheap games should not have a place in football, they should not go unpunished. You landed Ludogorets (Rovers’ previous opponents) in Dublin. Could you treat us the same if any Italian, Spanish, German or English team showed up? We hope our government will respond to this situation,” the statement added.

A spokesperson for Shannon Group told The Clare Echo said they were “delighted” to facilitate the arrival FC Shkupi. “We are always happy to facilitate the arrivals and departures of sports teams at Shannon Airport, and as official airport partners of Munster Rugby we have considerable experience of what teams require. We were asked if we could facilitate the North Macedonian team’s flight at Shannon Airport and were delighted to do so. We looked after the team yesterday and gave them a warm welcome when they arrived.”

Rovers themselves hailed the experience of flying from Shannon when they did so for their Champions League qualifier with Malta side, Hibernians.

Ennis’ Barry Cotter was part of the Hoops squad for that qualifier but has since moved on loan to St Patrick’s Athletic. They produced a fantastic result on Thursday evening when recording a 1-0 first leg win away to CSKA Sofia in the Europa Conference League this evening.

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