New names on Stranraer Weekend Trophy

John, Bernie, ICA President David, Robert and Helen with their cases of Magners

At the close of another very successful Irish Curling Association International Weekend competition at Stranraer Ice Rink, sponsored by Magners Cider, the winners were a team with a very international flavour! The Granite Trophy went to Scottish-born English Curling Association stalwart John Brown along with new Irish Curling Association member, Irish-born Bernie Gillet, who lives in Ontario, Canada, plus John’s Scottish old school friend Robert Jamieson (Hutchesons circa 1960’s) and Robert’s English wife Helen!

Lesley, Graeme, Jim, Liz with the Ailsa Criag painting and ICA President David

The runners-up in the High Road, receiving the Ailsa Craig painting, were Jim Cullen , Liz Cullen, Graeme Cowe and Lesley Cowe.

Nina, Alison, Walter and Bill, with the Irish Oak Trophy, and ICA President David Whyte

The winners of the Low Road, winning the Irish Oak Trophy were Bill Gray, Nina Clancy, Walter Scott and Alison Scott.

The runners-up in the Low Road, winning the Basil Gray Memorial Trophy, were Duncan Johnston, Janie Clemie, Sean Clemie and Harriet Johnston.

Alan, Isobel, Ian and Frances with ICA President David

The consolation prizes went to Ian Donald, Isobel Nisbet, Alan Nisbet and Frances Donald.

Thanks to all the competitors who took part in the weekend competition and especially to everyone who bought raffle tickets at Saturday evening’s cocktail party raising £275 for ICA funds. Finally, a huge thanks to Magners for sponsorship of this popular event. The winners and the runners-up have been invited back to the North West Castle for the close of season Dalrymple Cup.

Magners to sponsor Irish Weekend

Magners have generously provided sponsorship for the Irish Curling Association International Weekend at Stranraer Ice Rink this coming Saturday and Sunday.

Magners have been making cider in Ireland since 1935 and varieties of the drink are popular around the world.

As well as providing four cases of cider for the lucky winning team, Magners drinks will also be offered as a refreshment for guests at the ICA cocktail party on the Saturday evening in the North West Castle Hotel. Please remember there will be a raffle at the party to raise funds for the ICA and raffle prizes are very welcome.

The ICA is very grateful to Magners for the sponsorship and we look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.

Kinross winners

The ICA held its annual spring bonspiel at Kinross on Sunday,  February 3rd.

Due to a few other competitions on etc we were struggling to fill the three sheets we had booked but gathering 18 curlers, we decided to play six teams of three in a six- stone/ eight-ends format. This worked well in that each player only the normal two stones per end but it did have the effect of ends coming to skips stones very quickly!

David Whyte with Alison Barr and Maria O’Neill matched up against John Graham with Clare McCormick and Dave McHale with the game ending peels 8-8;John Wilson’s team of John, Sue Scotland and Frances Whyte went down 7-10 to Bill Gray, Nina Clancy and Sharon Graham but the perpetual trophy and prizes were won by Team Burns skipped by Ross Barr with John Burns and Frances Donald who defeated David Hume, Ian Donald and Gillian Russell by 12 shots to 5.

Winners John Burns, Frances Donald and Ross Barr with ICA President David Whyte

President David (Whyte) presented the prizes along with a short update on the successful trip to Dublin the previous week.

Stirling winners

The ICA held a bonspiel at Stirling before Christmas, my apologies to the winners that the results slipped the net!

Arran Cameron beat John Wilson 9-2 and Bill Gray beat David Hume 6-4.

Arran and his teammates Maria O’Neill, Margarita Sweeney-Baird and Ross Barr are pictured with their prizes and the obligatory festive head gear.

Stranraer Weekend draw

The Irish Curling Association hosts its annual weekend competition at Stranraer Ice Rink on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th February.

Here is the draw times for the Saturday games:

Section 1 – 9.00am and 1.20pm

Peter Wilson v John Gilmore

Arran Cameron v Duncan Johnstone

Tommy Campbell v David Whyte

Ian Donald v John Burns

Section 2 – 11.10am and 3.30pm

Drew Paton v John Graham

John Wilson v Jim Cullen

Andy Robinson v Michael Sutherland

Bill Gray v John Brown

Two trophies at 4N

Ireland players and supporters with their two trophies.

A huge thanks to everyone who made the journey south to Preston to represent Ireland at the annual Four Nations competition. Ireland beat England to secure the Turnbull Trophy and Scotland to retain the Marshall Millennium Trophy and were beaten by Wales to the Meikle Trophy by a shot.

An excellent weekend at the Flower Bowl Ice Rink, with its green ice, was hosted by the English Curling Association and our thanks go to them for looking after us so well.

A word of praise for Maria O’Neill, who was curling for Ireland for the first time and secured two wins to do her bit for her country – well done Maria! Also to Alison Barr, who had previously played for England in the Four Nations, coming over to the green side this time round and helping our cause alongside husband Ross.

Wales will be the 2020 Four Nations hosts – the time and the venue are still to be decided.

Success of Olympic Celebration Tour in Dublin

The Irish Curling Association made a huge step forward in its aim to establish a permanent curling facility in Ireland after the opportunity arose to host two days of come and try sessions at a temporary ice rink in Tallaght, Dublin.

After receiving funding support from the World Curling Federation, the Dublin project was given ‘Olympic Celebration Tour’ status by the WCF. Olympic medallists Anna Sloan and Michael Goodfellow toured schools and helped with the on ice coaching. All part of the WCF’s mission to introduce the sport of curling to new countries and new audiences.

Getting Organised …

An ICA sub-committee of David Whyte, John Burns, Bill Gray, Craig Whyte, Christine Furey and Louise Kerr worked together to get the project off the ground from a starting point of hearing from South Dublin Council that we had the ice for two days in November. By the end of the Irish adventure, 165 people, including wheelchair users, had tried curling with 100% positive feedback.

Reporting Back …

At the heart of the mission to bring his sport to his country, was ICA honorary member John Burns. On his return, he send comprehensive report to the WCF, saying :

“Ireland is an iceless curling nation. Although the Irish Curling Association won a WCF World Seniors Championship in 2012, they did so without having curling ice anywhere in Ireland. All the ICA members are qualified by birth or parentage to play for Ireland but they all learned to curl elsewhere and there are no members living in Ireland at present – getting a permanent ice rink would change that.  Along with the Irish Ice Hockey and Ice Skating bodies, the ICA have been trying to get a permanent rink for many years and we hope that the recent Olympic Celebration Tour has raised the profile of Irish Curling with all the other organisations who can help us achieve a rink. It certainly made a splash on social media.

Dublin often has temporary Christmas ice rinks for skating, and the ICA were offered a two-day slot at South Dublin on Ice at Tallaght Stadium. Stones, brushes, hacks and an Ice King were imported from Scotland. WCF provided an Olympic Celebration Tour with Darrell Ell and Olympians Anna Sloan and Michael Goodfellow. On the Monday and Tuesday there were visits to two Dublin Primary schools (St Kevin’s and St Dominic’s), to Roslyn Park Adult Training Centre and to Dublin High School. One hundred and forty participants had the chance to try Floor Curling. 103 more pupils were able to come and experience curling on real ice, and adult Come and Try sessions brought 50 people – some new to the sport, but some Canadian exiles who had travelled 100 miles from Belfast, Wexford and Cork to join in.

Thursday also had a Wheelchair Curling demonstration in which three wheelchair athletes (two members of the English Wheelchair curling team and a recruited “Come and Try” person) beat three Olympic and Irish international curlers. Paralympics Ireland CEO Miriam Malone said “It was great to see at first hand what could be a new Irish Paralympic Sport – it would give us great potential for development if Ireland get an ice rink.”

Other special guests at the closing Come and Try were South Dublin Mayor Mark Ward, Olympic Federation of Ireland CEO Peter Sherrard, and representatives from Sport Ireland, Snowsports Ireland, and the ice skating and ice hockey federations.

Feedback from the schools was extremely positive. The head teacher of St Dominic’s wrote –

“I absolutely loved the curling event today and the children had a really, really great time. Anna and Michael were superb and I thought they had a really good way with the boys – from the school’s perspective I cannot say how delighted we are when we can put people of such calibre in front of our boys. They will inspire some of them I have no doubt.  

“The staff in school were so impressed with all of the team who called to the school on Tuesday. The common response was what a warm friendly crew you all made and it was a pleasure to have you here – you are so welcome back at any time.”

Quotes from those who attended the Come and Try Sessions included -“I never knew there was curling in Ireland.” / “I’ve watched curling for years but never thought I would get a chance to curl here in Dublin.”/ “As a Canadian living in Ireland I was happy to travel 200 miles to get a chance to curl.” / “I put my free newspaper down to dry the kitchen floor and noticed a news item about this event –     I’m so glad I came up from Wexford.”/That was £$&**%% brilliant!” /“This is a fantastic sport – who do I lobby to get a permanent ice rink here?”

The ICA hopes that a permanent ice rink will happen soon, and if so they will be happy to stage a WCF competition – Dublin could be a new venue for curling in Europe.”

What’s Next ?

Now the ICA committee are looking to the future and to use the success of the two days in Dublin to show the city authorities there is an opportunity to develop ice sports in Ireland, starting with a permanent ice rink.

ICA President David Whyte commented: “As we catch our breath following a positive week in Dublin the question inevitably is what happens next. 

“While we were on the radar of our fellow ice and winter sports and the Olympic Federation through engagement over the years, our association with them will have been further strengthened by actually delivering on the ground something that we have really only been able to present in words up to now on the back of events in earlier years. This has helped us engage with further bodies such as Sport Ireland, South Dublin Council and Paralympic Ireland through the wheelchair involvement in the event. The support from WCF through the Olympic Celebration Tour, Board member presence and the provision of equipment and funding was truly outstanding along with a commitment for ongoing involvement with the right project.

Taking all the above factors into account the event Team and the Committee will now weigh up all the factors and attempt to produce a proactive follow on strategy to complement the Development Plan produced last year. This could include increased engagement with our new and established partners, discussions with the South Dublin on Ice and other seasonal ice providers around replicating this year’s event on a larger scale for a longer time and becoming more familiar with the range of business models for curling rinks and how they operate across the world including the new innovative project in Belgium so that we are in a position to articulate these should an opportunity present itself. Suffice it to say that those involved have been inspired to continue the effort required to achieve the aspiration of permanent curling ice in Ireland “

Four Nations – Ireland v Scotland

Mixed game 1 – Ireland 6 Scotland 6

Mixed game 2 – Ireland 6 Scotland 8

Ireland retained the Marshall Millennium Trophy at the Flower Bowl in Preston this afternoon with a 28-26 shots victory over Scotland.

Ross, Gillian, Louise and Johnjo
Green on green
Alison F, Bill, John and Alison B

Going in to the last session, Ireland held a four shot advantage and they were all needed as the two Scottish mixed teams put up a spirited fightback to try to wrestle the prize away. Bill Gray, Alison Fyfe, John Burns and Alison Barr lost a very close game by two shots and, on the adjoining sheet, Johnjo Kenny, Louise Kerr, Ross Barr and Gillian Russell managed to keep enough shots on the board to secure Ireland’s overall victory. Johnjo executed a nerveless take out on the last Scottish shot stone to ensure Ireland got a one in the last end to peel the game.

Four Nations – Ireland v England

Mixed game 1 – Ireland 13 England 5

Mixed game 2 – Ireland 10 England 8

Ireland have won the Turnbull Trophy here at the Flower Bowl curling rink in Preston with 39 shots to 26.

Maria, Jen, Ross and James
Clare. Arran, Steve and Margarita

Both teams, Arran Cameron, Margarita Sweeney- Baird, Steve Callan, Clare McCormick and James Russell, Jen Ward, Ross Barr and Maria O’Neill won their games to secure the trophy.

Four Nations – Ireland v Wales

In this morning’s mixed games against Wales, Ireland won one game 7-6, skipped by David Whyte, with Alison Fyfe, Alan Mitchell and Frances Donald, but lost the other one 8-5, the team being Bill Gray, Marie O’Kane, John Burns and Frances Whyte, meaning Wales retain the Meikle Trophy for 2019 by one shot ,28-27. Congratulations to them.

Ireland still can win back the Turnbull Trophy against England and retain the Marshall Millennium against Scotland later today.