2022 Irish Men’s Championship Preview

Two teams will hit the ice in Dumfries to contest the 2022 Irish Men’s Championship. The Ice Bowl will once again play host to the best-of-3 series beginning on Saturday at 11am with game 2 scheduled for 4pm and the final game if required will take place on Sunday at 10am. The winning team will earn the right to represent Ireland at the European Curling Championships C-Division in Vilnius, Lithuania in May.

European Curling Championships C-Division 2021, Geneva, Switzerland

Coming off a fourth-place finish at the most recent C-Division, John Wilson returns at skip with a slightly altered lineup of James Russell, Kyle Paradis and Craig Whyte. John is excited for the challenge of the weekend

“Craig, Kyle, James and I are all looking forward to getting on the ice on Saturday and competing for the opportunity to represent Ireland in Lithuania. To get back on the ice and play competitive curling is exactly why all of us play the sport. Kyle, Craig and I haven’t been on the ice together since Geneva and we are extremely excited to play in an Irish Championship. Dumfries is always a great place to play, the ice is always prepared to an excellent standard and the venue and competition should be a cracker.”

European Curling Championships C-Division 2021, Geneva, Switzerland

Adopting the role of challengers are Team Cameron with skip Arran Cameron backed up by David Hibberd, Steve Callan and Eoin McCrossan. The team are happy to play down expectations as Arran explains

“Well it’s nearly here and Team Cameron are feeling excited for the playdowns. Training unfortunately has been a bit sketchy with events on and off and COVID pings here and there, however we did enjoy competing at both the British Open and the Haggis. The team being located across Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Perthshire doesn’t make for easy logistics but we have enjoyed the craic when we have managed to get together. We go into this weekend as challengers with three of John’s team having competed last year in Geneva and we know we are up against it. We do however feel it’s important for the growth of the ICA to have playdowns where possible and would encourage more to get involved in the future if you can. We are looking forward to some good curling and a few beers with John and his team this weekend”

Scores will be available on the ICA social media channels with a full event write-up available on the website soon after. Good luck to both teams, the long road to Vilnius in May starts with the battle in the bowl!

Jim Nixon – a tribute

Terribly sad news at the weekend that Jim Nixon had died and our sympathies are extended to his widow Kathie and their family.

Jim Nixon at a Stranraer Weekend

Jim and Kathie were long-time member of the Irish Curling Association and ran the Stranraer Weekend for many years.

Jim was tremendous company and your day was brightened when you spent time with him. He was a man who had time for everybody and always had a wee anecdote to tell you, in his Northern Ireland brogue, which never failed to make you laugh.

When the first of the Irish teams headed out into the big world of international curling, Jim was there. Kathie was part of the women’s team at the Europeans in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2004 and Jim had a ball as the unofficial ‘chef d’equipe’ of the ladies squad, making new friends and cementing old ones every day. He was in the thick of the action when it was party time and his tall tale about his auntie being a “rear gunner on a milk float” during the war has gone down in ICA folklore. When he added in his ‘Father Jack’ impersonation his legendary status was assured.

Kathie & Jim Nixon

On the ice Jim was an excellent player and loved to play for his country when the Four Nations rolled around. He supported all the ICA competitions throughout the curling season and his and Kathie’s warm and welcoming personalities attracted many players to the Stranraer Weekend.

Living in Edinburgh, they did most of their curling at Gogar before it closed down and they were transferred to Murrayfield but they missed Gogar sorely and the camaraderie they had found there.

In his latter years Jim suffered from dementia and this was a difficult time for him and for Kathie. They remained in members thoughts often and Kathie received tremendous support from a stalwart handful of fellow ICA members during the time she was caring for Jim.

Kathie was devoted to Jim as he was to her and she dedicated all her time to looking after him until his recent passing.

ICA President Eoin McCrossan paid this tribute to Jim: “Everyone in the ICA are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jim Nixon, a true titan of the organisation who along with his wife Kathie contributed so much for so many years in running the annual ICA Stranraer Weekend. The loss of Jim is felt by many across the association and he will be remembered fondly and Kathie has our deepest condolences at this difficult time.”

We will never forget Jim Nixon – as fine a human being as your could ever come across if you searched the length and breadth of the land.

Here’s raising a glass to you Gentleman Jim from us all, and may you rest in peace.

ICA Opening Bonspiel and Training Day

Thirty ICA members gathered last week at Greenacres to start the season in earnest. To help get members back into the swing of things this was a bumper event with a morning training day preceding an afternoon bonspiel.

The training morning was generously supported by the WCF Development Assistance Program to help the ICA to hit the ground running in their post-pandemic recovery. This was incredibly gratefully received by members of all abilities. “It was such a wonderful opportunity to practice rather than to be thrown into a game” explained member Clare McCormick. Eleanor Burns agreed: “I was just so happy to have the chance to practice after so long, it was really important to get my confidence back”. After getting to grips with the ice, members worked on a number of skills; honing their setups and deliveries concentrating on consistent rotation and weight control. For some members though, the aim of the session was a lot simpler: “I’ve only fallen once – so that’s a success” Steve Callen wryly noted.

With the sea legs re-established; 8 teams took to the ice in the afternoon with some incredible shot-making accompanying some close (and not so close) games. The final scores were:

    Neil Fyfe 10 – 4 John Wilson

    Alison Fyfe 10 – 6 Jen Ward

    JJ Kenny 3 – 12 Andrew Gilmore

    James Russell 9 – 5 David Whyte

That meant that the winning team were Andrew Gilmore, Dave Hibberd, Isla Kinnear and Ari Furey. President Eoin presented the prizes, thanking everyone at Greenacres for keeping everyone safe, fed and entertained and expressed a huge debt of gratitude for the number of members supporting the event. In particular, he welcomed Brian Mathews all the way from Dublin and new member Megan Priestley.

We’re off and away – stay tuned for the rest of season 2021-22!

B-League remains out of reach

SEMI-FINAL – IRELAND 5 SLOVENIA 6

BRONZE – IRELAND 2 SLOAVKIA 7

Team Ireland at the European Curling Championships C-Division 2021, Geneva, Switzerland – photo credit WCF

A difficult day for our men as they finish out of the medals in Geneva and Ireland’s 10-year quest to get out of the European C League continues.

The semi-final against Slovenia this morning saw the team two shots up going into the last two ends, but losing two steals of singles to their opponents forced an extra end. Again, Ireland had the hammer but lost another single and automatic qualification.

End of Ireland’s campaign for promotion – photo credit WCF

It was then time to regroup in the afternoon and play for bronze and the last qualification place against Slovenia. Unfortunately, the game did not go Ireland’s way.

Ireland’s Arran, John and Craig in action – photo credit WCF

The team have filled Irish curling fans with pride this week and they will be back. It has been a difficult time for all curlers – from all nations – and it was good to see international curling back again.

Kyle Paradis was making his debut for Ireland – photo credit WCF

Thanks John, Kyle, Arran and Craig for giving up your time to represent Ireland. ICA members are proud of you all.

Euro C – day 5

IRELAND 11 LUXEMBOURG 5

Craig Whyte, Ireland – Photo credit WCF

A terrific run of wins, including today, has put Ireland’s men into tomorrow morning’s semi-final against Slovenia. Belgium play Slovakia in the other semi. John, Kyle, Arran and Craig have worn the green with pride and carried us all on their journey.

A win tomorrow sees them both promoted to the B League and on course for gold….or silver.

Come on Ireland!

Euro C – day 4

IRELAND 6 SLOVENIA 4

IRELAND 6 ROMANIA 3

“Nailed it skipper” – Photo credit WCF

Ireland’s men are currently going great guns at the C League and on course for the podium. A two in the third and a steal of two in the fourth gave them daylight against top of the table Slovenia in the morning and a repeat in the second and third ends in tonight’s game against Romania saw them keep it tight for the win and qualification for the final stages with Belgium and Slovenia. All three countries are on a seven win – one loss record.

The boys have one round-robin game to go against Luxembourg tomorrow afternoon.

Euro C – day 3

IRELAND 8 UKRAINE 2

IRELAND 11 CROATIA 2

It’s a team game…. photo credit WCF

Ireland’s men had both their games today in the bag by the fourth end and are third in the league table.

The team are outplaying most of the opposition but face top of the table Slovenia in the morning .

Come on Ireland!

Euro C profile – Craig Whyte

Name – Craig Whyte

Age – 32

Occupation – Business valuations

Lockdown loath? – Trying to get a tee time on the golf course

Lockdown like? – A 10 second commute to work

Staycation destination? – Cairngorms

Coffee order? – Black

Best curling team to watch and learn from? – Mouat

Any competition superstitions? – Green socks

What will finally break the internet? – The new ICA website