Irish supporters bide their time as Arctic weather sees them stranded

Ireland’s World Cup qualification campaign finally got off the ground in Sweden at the weekend, but not everyone connected to the team is having quite as much luck.

Dozens of soccer fans were last night facing the prospect of a third day stranded in Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport as dangerous weather grounded some flights out of the country.

On Friday evening, they and thousands of other Irish fans watched as Giovanni Trapattoni’s men bravely fought to a potentially vital 0-0 draw against Sweden.

The team and its under-fire manager flew back to Dublin a few short hours after the surprise result to prepare for the crunch game against Austria in Dublin tomorrow night.

But fans travelling home to Ireland via London to save on costs have become the victim of the freezing conditions affecting other parts of Europe.

Marina Claffey, from The Lough area of Cork City, told the Irish Examiner dozens of fans — including her six-strong group — were due to fly to Heathrow at 6.50pm on Saturday, before catching a connection home.

However, the Arctic snowstorms striking Britain meant the British Airways flight was cancelled for 24 hours, with the fans still unsure if the rescheduled flight for last night would be able to take off at the time of going to press.

“We were delighted with the result, but we’ve been stuck here since the game and no one seems to know what’s happening,” she said.

“They put us up in a hotel and some of us will be able to claim back the costs on our insurance, but there’s plenty of others who won’t be able to get back the €204 per head the flights cost,” she said.

While the issue is mainly affecting London-based Irish fans, a number of Cork-based supporters have also been affected.

They include Pat Murray, who had to swap his 75th birthday celebrations at home on Saturday evening for a makeshift party in Stockholm because of the delays.

“He’s been going to Ireland matches since 1959, been to Japan and everywhere else, so for this to happen to him in Sweden is just unbelievable,” said Ms Claffey.

“No one seems to be able to tell us what’s going on.”

She added that it was at least welcome that for once Irish fans’ main grumble is about the weather and not the team.


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