Game 6; Ireland 6 Slovakia 4

imageIn our last game, Team Ireland stepped up to the plate against a Slovakian team that needed a victory to progress. Right from the start, we were a totally different proposition than we had been in some of our previous games-perhaps because we were able to relax with the pressure off. Having said that, we desperately wanted to win to finish on a positive note. The Barr family provided us with the hammer courtesy of a great LSD from Jacqui and off we went. We were able to control the game pretty much all the way through with the exception of the 6th end. In that end a couple of takeouts that didn’t quite work out left the Slovakians with a draw for 3 which they would never have made had it not been for their exceptional sweeping which was a feature throughout the game. It just shows what can be achieved on ice this quick with dynamic sweeping. That three left us 4-3 down after 6. A well played end in the 7th allowed Bill to draw for 2 to go one ahead

Team time-out

Team time-out

The last end played out in our favour as the Slovakians failed to clear a couple of guards and with a stone on the 4ft, the skipper was able to play a top 12 biter to force the draw which just slipped deep and the win was secure. A good end to what I think we all agreed was a frustrating campaign in that a 3-3 record would have been a satisfactory result rather than 2-4.
All in all it has been a great experience for the team to be involved in a World Competition and we have had a lot of fun as well as enjoying the serious business of the curling. We have been privileged to represent Ireland and I’m sure all look forward to the opportunity at some pint in the future. Many thanks to all for your messages of support. They were much appreciated.

Irish win the world’s oldest curling fixture

Two teams for the ICA played Ardrossan Castle at Greenacres last night in the oldest international fixture in curling – it has been played – on and off – since 1861.

The Irish team of Martin Sutherland (skip) Carolyn Hibberd, Marie O’Kane and Clare MacCormick (Lead) defeated the Ardrossan Castle side of Gordon Christie, Donnie Shedden, Bill Stevely and Angus Dodds  by 13 shots to 3. The game seemed closer than that but our side were always able to get their stones in the right positions on very swinging ice where weight was crucial.

The other ICA team of Neil Fyfe, Christine Furey, Alan Mitchell and Erin Furey had a much closer tussle against Frazer Erskine , and C ,K, and G Millen.

This  was a game of two halves with the Irish being 4-0 down after four ends.  They fought back to level the game at 4 all but a brilliant  last shot by skip Frazer swung the game Ardrossan’s way with the final score standing at 4- 7.  Overall the winners of the Belfast Medal Trophy are the Irish Curling Association.

20141130_162641The player of the match, which was agreed by everyone, was young Erin Furey.  At 11 years of age it was thought that she is the youngest winner of the oldest curling international fixture in the world.   Also the youngest Irish player to have taken part in an International match.  Our lucky little leprechaun has been booked for next year’s fixture!

The game was followed by a supper at the rink and time for a catch up with everyone

Game 5; Finland 6 , Ireland 2

The coffin lid was finally nailed down on Team Ireland’s qualification hopes today in the match against Finland. It was tacked down after a disappointing LSD which effectively scuppered our hopes. In the match itself, it was the skips turn to catch the weight disease early on but a near freeze in the first lying four against with his last caused the Finnish skip to go safety first and a score of 2 resulted. We played much better at times during this game but the loss of a big 3 in the 4thimage put us on the back foot again and against a very accurate striking team as the Finns were, we just couldn’t keep enough stones in play to force either a multiple score or a steal. We have one more game tomorrow at 8am (the joys) against Slovakia so it’s off to late practice tonight and then up and at them tomorrow. There is a little extra spice in this in that Slovakia and England’s relative hopes rest on the result. Win for us and England go through; lose and the Slovakians get the nod over England and Finland they think. Anyway despite all of that we will be going all out to finish on a high.

World Mixed -Game 4 Ireland 2; Hungary 9

Kazan Ice Arena

Kazan Ice Arena

Team Ireland took to the ice at 8pm last night for their only game of the day against the Hungarians who on paper at least looked a pretty strong team – and so it proved. Having given up the hammer from the LSD, we then compounded this by once again struggling with the weight on probably the fastest sheet we have played on so far (and the fastest I have ever experienced). Consequently we gave up a 4 and were on the back foot for the remainder of the game.

Skip feeling a little vertically challenged!!

Skip feeling a little vertically challenged!!

Hungary rarely missed a shot but we hung in after losing a further 2 in the 2nd and played some better shots but it’s fair to say that we were not allowed a look in as the opposition removed any opportunity of multiple scoring in a professional display. I would think they will go a long way in this competition. No excuses really; we can’t let a team such as Hungary get an early big lead as the standard of their play along with many others in this tournament is excellent. We still have a chance to qualify by winning our last two games and relying on some other results going our way so still plenty to go at. A day off today (watching SWE v ENG as I write this) and then up and at Finland tomorrow at 1200 MSK time.

The Kazan 6; the story so far

Sorry folks. At last an update from the tour so far. Apologies from the blogger. Couldn’t get a ribbon for my Russian Orthodox blog machine!!

Skipper on the Russian Orthodox Blog Machine

Skipper on the Russian Orthodox Blog Machine

As a result there is much to report!
Team Ireland arrived safely in Kazan after a remarkably uneventful trip. There was a moment of consternation arriving in Moscow when we were directed behind a screen at passport control to find ourselves in the Diplomatic area. Our status had gone before us, obviously although there was a further small alarm when Margarita seemed to take an age to come through the control.
Check in to the Kazan flight followed almost seamlessly although the check in girl dealing with Ross and the broom bag suddenly bolted from her desk and ran off leaving a bemused Barr family stranded. She did eventually return looking refreshed!

Team Transport. I'm sure Catherine the Great won't miss it

Team Transport. I’m sure Catherine the Great won’t miss it

As usual, the organising committee have excelled themselves with their customary efficiency and bus transport, hotels and security (!) have posed no problems so far.
The opening ceremony was a great affair with dancers and musicians along with the athlete parade. Jacqui – our international debutant – was entrusted with the fleg and led us out.

Proud moment for Jacqui

Proud moment for Jacqui

The arena is impressive and looking spectacular – a great place for a great event and while I gave already reported on the games, in general we are pretty happy with the ice etc. Food in the sport complex is pretty pricey and has to be preordered so we have given that a miss but unfortunately there is nowhere to have a drink of anything with our opponents after the game although we did go to the adjacent shopping mall for a coffee with Team England – we weren’t going to let them off scott-free after handing us our second defeat! We are storing up some celebratory drinks with our playing colleagues on Saturday night.I’m particularly looking forward to catching up with the Brazilians again. Samba time

Thankfully near our hotel there are loads of restaurants and bars (latter for after the competition obviously). Ross is the orderer-in chief with his impressive grasp of Russian – also knows how to ask for the bill, pay for it and say thank you! Top man.

Ross negotiating for team pizza

Ross negotiating for team pizza








We have been joined on this trip by the originally named ‘Paddy the Bear’ courtesy of one of a Jacqui’s work colleagues.

Skipper nervously carries Padraig Bear for the first and possibly only time

Skipper nervously carries Padraig Bear for the first and possibly only time


Unfortunately he has already been banned from the coaches bench (coach and manager had failed to read the Team Document), the broom bag (too much hair falling out) and is now to be found in a rucksack! He has also been renamed Padraig to further enshrine the all-Ireland status of the team.

Padraig renaming ceremony. Paddy no longer

Padraig renaming ceremony. Paddy no longer

As I write we have been on a city tour but to avoid too long a blog entry, more on that later. For now it’s back to curling. We are in a must win situation just now so Hungary tonight.

ICA opening bonspiel

opening-bonspielThe ICA held its opening bonspiel at Greenacres Ice Rink on Sunday, October 16th. Four rinks played eight ends and there was a tie for the prizes with both Neil Fyfe’s team and James Russell’s team beating their opposition by four shots. James, playing with Marie O’Kane, Eoin McCrossan and Trish Boult, were declared the winners as they had scored more shots.

N Fyfe 9 A Cameron 5;
J Russell 11 D Hume 7

The winners! James, Marie. Eoin and Trish

The winners!
James, Marie. Eoin and Trish

President Louise presented the perpetual trophy and the prizes afterwards and winning skip James duly thanked his rink for playing so well, and his opposition for the good game as well as thanking Carolyn Hibberd for organising the bonspiel and Greenacres staff for the ice and the soup and sandwiches afterwards.

The ICA were delighted to welcome two new members to the ranks  – Patricia ‘Trish’ Boult and Roberta Warwick.

Members also signed a get well card for Tony Tierney, who is at home recovering from cancer treatment. Everyone in the ICA wishes Tony the speediest of recoveries and that his life, and Charlotte’s, returns to normal as soon as possible and they are back where they belong – on the ice playing with us.

World Mixed – game 3; Samba time

Team Ireland took on the Vancouver based Brazilians in their third game and right from the outset started to put their opposition under pressure by getting stones in much better places than in either of the first two games. We picked up three in each of the first two ends before Brazil opened their account with a single. A further three after an angled raise tap by the skip to take out the Brazilians shot stone gave us a 9-1 lead at the 4 end break. Somewhat inevitably, concentration wavered a little in the fifth and sixth ends to allow Brazil to score a 2 and steal a single in the sixth. We played a great 7th end and when Bill removed the Brazilian counter with his last to score 4, handshakes were offered. A great sigh of relief to get a win under our belts after the earlier disappointment sees the team in better spirits. Tour of the city this morning before the 8pm game against Hungary.image

World Mixed – Game 2

Well….where to start? Team Ireland started solidly enough in this tussle with England with much more than bragging rights potentially at stake. A clean first end with the hammer after Jacqui and Ross had thrown good LSD’s ended with a single as Bill’s attempted blank didn’t quite roll out. image

We were struggling a bit with the weight as the game went through the next few ends until the 4th where after multiple missed shots, Bill faced 4 with his last and managed to draw round and although a little heavy came to rest art frozen taking three shots out of play. The English skip tried to clear for three but jammed our stone and we escaped with a loss of 2. Unfortunately the weight malaise continued and we struggled to impose ourselves at all and despite going to the last 5-5 we never really looked to be in a position to steal until late in the end but couldn’t make them play their last. A disappointing result but actually both teams agreed afterwards that neither had played that well.

Onwards and upwards for the greens. Brazil next at 4pm so it will be colourful!!

World Mixed – game 1

Ireland 2 Sweden 9.

Team Ireland ran into a very good Swedish team today in their first game at the World Mixed Championships in Kazan, Russia. The Swedes took control in the second end after a blanked first end with the Green Team struggling to get the pace of the lightning fast ice. A heavy draw against two coughed up another single in the third but a nicely controlled double by Bill in the 4th got the team on the board. A great freeze by the skipper in the next prevented a big end with the Swedes lying well when their skip failed to remove our stone to allow us to steal a single. After this solid start it was frustrating to allow a big end of 3 in the next and even more so to end the game losing a three against the hammer. All in all we were pleased to get on the ice and we will take the lessons forward to the England game tomorrow morning. Thanks for all of the good luck messages.

Team Ireland and. Team Sweden