Trees required and happy days

Any trees ready out there?

You can only enter via e-mail folks, that’s because we like to guess who the tree belongs to when we see it. Only after the judge has chosen the winner are the tree decorators revealed.

Bil, David, PJ, Ron, Neil and John

Also, I found these pictures of the visit of the Irish men to the winter wonderland of Ornskoldsvik, Northern Sweden, 10 years ago this very week for the 2008 European Championships. Ireland were in the A Division that year and represented by PJ Wilson, Bill Gray, Neil Fyfe, John Furey and David Smith with coach Ron Myers and Chef de Mission me.

Who can forget the day we climbed the security fence and scaled the ski jump and then, on the morning of our departure, the sight of David Smith emptying the entire contents of his bag onto the frozen wastes of the train station looking for his passport.

“It’s in here somewhere…..”

ICA Retain the Belfast Medal

On Wednesday evening (5th December 2018) at Greenacres Curling Rink, two teams of Irish Curlers competed against Ardrossan Castle Curling Club in the annual match for the Belfast Medal. The contest is always looked forward to and was played in good spirit on lovely, keen, swinging ice.

Team 1– Neil Fyfe (skip), Jim Winning, Carolyn Hibberd ,Margarita Sweeney- Baird settled quickly and maintained the lead throughout the game. Some spectacular shots from the skip left the opposition scratching their heads and wondering what they could possibly try next! Final score was 11-2.

Team 2– Martin Sutherland (Skip), Christine Furey, Gilly Drury, Clare McCormick had a closer battle to begin with but after scoring 3 at the 3rd end, they settled into a winning streak. Never write off opposition skip Donny Shedden however, who had a chance of scoring 5 at the last end to even the game. Sighs of relief from the Irish as his attempt just failed. Final score was 8-4.

Following the game, tea/ coffee and sandwiches were enjoyed by both squads and an enjoyable hour was spent in each other’s company.

Thank you to the members who took part. We are looking forward to defending the trophy next year.

We are hugely appreciative that Ardrossan Castle continue to contest this fixture – first played as far back as 1861 when the prize was a RCCC medal struck for the Belfast Curling Club. The medal was originally played for between Belfast Union and RCCC. The teams now contest the beautiful wooden trophy fashioned by Ardrossan curler Donnie Sheddon for the fixture.

This friendly annual event, was revived by the ICA in 1994 but was first played in 1861. Originally we hoped to play it alternating between Irish and Scottish ice rinks, however we cannot provide ice time in Ireland at the moment.

This annual competition format is for two teams from each club playing a single eight end game each and the aggregate score across the two rinks determines the winner.

Last ever ICA Glittertree competition!

The 2018 ICA Glittertree

There is only one glittertree left in the ICA store cupboard, as the Christmas tree competition we have all enjoyed over the last five years comes to an end.

Photo credit – WCF

Going out on a high, this year’s judge is one of the most famous curlers that ever wore a kipper, GB’s Olympic golden girl from 2002, Rhona Howie.

So, ICA members, get the tinsel and the fairy lights looked out  and send a photo of your finished Christmas tree, by e-mail,  to: clkerr1811@gmail.com

Entries must be received by midnight on December 22nd and the judge’s decision is final! Good luck and keep decorating……

Fyfe Trophy winners at Braehead

As the Irish mixed team in Canada pack up their kit, the rank and file members of the ICA turned out in force at Braehead Curling Rink today to contest the Irish Open Championships for The Fyfe Trophy.

Fyfe Trophy winners – David, Louise, Clare and Karin with the Pres

Six rinks played four 4-end games,two before lunch and two after and after a some very complicated maths, due to the Schenkel system, the gold medal winners for 2018 were the team of David Hume, Louise Kerr, Karin Hutchison and Clare McCormick.

Silver – Sue Scotland, Frances Whyte, Neil Fyfe and John Burns

The silver medals went to the team of Neil Fyfe, John Burns, Frances Whyte and Susan Scotland.

Bronze – Bill, Jacqui, Paul and Frances

The bronze medallists were Bill Gray, Paul Cromey, Jacqui Davidson and Frances Donald.

Consolation – David, Marie, Anne and Eoin

The consolation prizes were to Marie O’Kane, Eoin McCrossan, Anne Gibson and David McHale. Thanks to President David for doing the medal and trophy presentations, secretary Bill for his hard work organising the competition and all who turned out to play, especially the Hutchison  family.

WMCC Roundup …

Kelowna Curling Club

Coaches blog on the past few days in Kelowna at World Mixed Curling Championships.

Day 3: Ireland 10-6 Brazil
I am happy to be corrected but this may have been Ireland’s first sporting victory since Liam Brady popped one in the net at Landsdowne Road in 1987 (ed: Ireland vs Brazil friendly football match for those not in the know).

Things did not start well though and we were quickly down 5-0 after 3 ends. Brazil’s skip could draw anything to the button no matter what was in front of her. Ireland were in trouble. Thankfully a 3 in the 4th end stemmed the tide.

Ailsa Anderson, KT Kerr, Arran Cameron, Steve Callan and James Russell

Following a ‘wee chat’ at half time and a change in tactics and after Brazil took their 1 in the 5th end Ireland went into overdrive and scored a 3 in the 6th to tie the game 6-6. Ireland went onto steal a 3 in the 7th end and another steal of 1 in the final end to run out comfortable winners despite the rocky start and record Ireland’s first win of the week. Confidence was much higher going into the 8pm games versus The Netherlands.

Thankfully the Brazil Coach has agreed to swap his jersey with me at the end of the week. He is of similar build and I was struggling to find an athlete with the same curves!!!

James Russell’s 50th cap for Ireland

Day 3: Ireland 12-3 The Netherlands

A resounding victory on James Russell’s 50th cap for Ireland in 6 ends versus a surprisingly under-performing Netherlands team. Ireland set the tone from the first end with a resounding 6 which appears to be the highest end score in the competition. By half time it was 8-2 and Ireland were in control with good accuracy. The Netherlands scored a 1 in the 5th end but Ireland closed out the game in the 6th end with a 4 to win 12-3.

Ailsa and Katie mean business

After a wee drink with a visibly shell shocked Netherlands team it was straight home to bed as undefeated Russia were next at 8am and USA at 4pm. A tough assignment against the world ranked No.2 team that contained some world championship silver medallists.

Day 4: Ireland 3-8 Russia

A slightly flattering score line against an emotionless but highly skilled Russian team. One of our objectives was to make them smile and we got one or two smirks out of them.

IRL vs RUS

Ireland took the lead with a single in end 1. This rattled the Russians a bit who hit back with a 2 in the second. Ireland levelled in the 3rd end but Russia pulled away with a 2 in the 4th end. They thought it was a 3 with one biting the house. The match umpire said it was in but Alisa stuck to her guns and called for a measure. Just out was the result. I blame a ‘dodgy hole’ but we took it and a bit of the so called ‘luck of the Irish’ came our way.

However Russia stole a 2 in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead. Ireland dug in and grinded out a single in the 6th. Russia again took a 2 when they had hammer. In the 8th end Russia quickly ran us out of stones and hands were shaken before the end.

Ireland played really well against very quality opposition with clear designs on winging the competition. The only real difference was they took twos when they had hammer whilst we took singles.

The defeat was softened by the drinks purchased in the bar afterwards by our opponents!!!!

USA beckoned at 4pm.

Arran, Katie and James at the world championships – photo credit WCF

Day4: Ireland 2 – 6 USA

This defeat was a combination of many things. Irish fatigue with 4 games in 28 hours and USA finally getting their A game out following 3 consecutive defeats.
In addition to this a lack of communication in the first half did not help matters.

Viking Irish Support

Ireland trailed by by 3 to 1 at half time but soon became 5-1 after end 5. It could have been a hand shake at end 6 with Ireland lying 3 against before James made a tremendous draw to the 4 foot for a 1. USA took another 1 in end 7 and hands were shaken midway through end 8 once we were run out of stones.

USA were clinical and we just could not match them. The USA coach confided that she watched us versus Switzerland and The Netherlands and warned her team that

“we were an ‘awesome’ team with enough capability to beat them”.

I like to think of it as justified respect for Ireland.

Katie Kerr, Mike Kerr and James Russell

It was a special occasion for our LA team member KT Kerr playing against her country of birth. A good time was had by both teams in the bar afterwards before team Ireland and Austria went on the well organised pub crawl arranged by the local committee. Arran and I made it to the small hours and found all the Irish pubs in Kelowna. There are just 2 by the way!

Day 5

News filtered through that morning that Russia were finally beaten. Who were Ireland’s next opponent but the team that beat them, Finland who themselves had aspirations of doing very well in the competition.

Ailsa, Arran and Katie on the ice – photo credit WCF

Ireland 4-3 Finland (after extra end)

What a game of high intensity, skilled and sh*t in your pants curling.
It was clear from the outset that Finland were quality opposition but Ireland were up for the fight following a chat about improved communication and the importance of good guards from the outset.

Finland had to play a perfect hit and roll across to take their 1 in the first end. A blank end in the 2nd meant Ireland retained the hammer. James Russell played a delicate draw to take 1 in the third to tie the game. A poor end in the 4th saw Finland score a 2 and take a 3-1 lead at half time.

A positive half time discussion meant Ireland’s going back out firmly believing a win was possible.

Ireland reduced the deficit by one in the 5th end which was followed by a blanking the 6th. Following some exceptional guards and draws by Katie, Arran, Alisa and James, Ireland stole a very important point to tie the game going down the last. Whilst not having the hammer Ireland looked confident but a mistake by Finland was needed. This came in the very last stone. James had spotted that the Finnish skip was a tad weaker on his outurn and James placed his final stone out wide on the 12 foot and invite Finland to either go for a hit and stick or a draw to an empty 8 foot. He opted to go for the hit and stick but he slid marginally wide and whilst he cleared the Irish stone his slid off to the side and an accidental blank. Extra end and by now a huge crowd had gathered as an Irish win had significant implications for Australia and Switzerland.

As we were without the hammer again we needed to steal. The following was the sequence of Irish stones – guard, guard, guard, guard, guard, guard, guard and a draw to the 8 foot by James and hidden by numerous guards. The Finnish skip had to draw to the 4 foot for the win. However he slid out light and despite a wee pop, it overcurled and caught an Irish guard leaving Ireland with a momentous win and huge cheers from the USA, Swiss and Aussie teams standing behind me plus the crowd upstairs.

An exceptional game of curling by both sides that had everything. I don’t normally get too emotional but a tear was shed afterwards whilst packing up after the game. Finland were understandably gutted as it prevented them from making the play offs but joined us shortly after for a drink and we remain good friends.

A wee Irish celebration continued back at the house.

IRL vs DEN

Day 6: Ireland 4-9 Denmark

Final day of the round robin saw us face Denmark who had already qualified for the play offs and as we were out, it was a dead rubber. It would have been nice to finish with a win but Denmark were too strong and ran out 9-4 winners in 6 ends.

Whilst it may have been a competition of a few could and should haves, Team Ireland performed exceptionally well against high standard opposition in a ‘group of death’ and can hold their heads very high. We have made many friends at the competition and the future of Irish Curling looks good. It was certainly my proudest moment in my curling career.

Coach Callan