MENS QUARTER FINALS – IRELAND 8 FINLAND 4
The Irish mens senior curling team – Johnjo Kenny, Bill Gray, David Whyte, Tony Tierney and fifth man David Hume, sponsored by Albert Bartlett – have made it through to the semi finals of the world senior championships here in Tårnby with what was, in the end, a fairly comfortable 8-4 victory over Finland.
The two teams, ranked one and two in their section, met on sheet E, known to be a tricky sheet of ice, at 7pm tonight. By half nine it was over and the Irish team had a very sweet victory. The game was won on a four shot gain for the Irish – against the head – in the seventh end.
The Irish back end were not firing on all cylinders in some of the early ends and the loss of a three before the half time interval could have been a killer blow. But, led by Johnjo, whose calm demeanour and ice cool shot play has inspired his team mates to try their very best for ‘The Big Man’, the team have grown in confidence throughout the entire competition.
The three for the Finns in the fourth end happened when the Irish were lying two and well covered but the Finnish third elected to raise an Irish guard onto the two reds and got the angles perfectly leaving two Finnish counters lying. The skip then drew another shot for their three. It was a great shot and the Irish supporters were the first to show their appreciation of it.
The score at the half time break was 2-4 to Finland.
The Irish had chance to get a two back at the next end when the Finnish skip missed a double but Johnjo threw a bit heavy and the Finns drew for two. Johnjo’s only option was to draw the four foot for his one.
At the sixth end, Irish third Bill Gray had an excellent hit and flop behind guards to lie two. It should have stayed that way but the door was open for Finland just a chink by the time last stones were played and the skip hit and rolled to lie second shot – a steal of one for the Irish.
The killer blow came in the seventh when the Irish were lying three counters well spread out across the front of the tee by skips stones. With one Finnish counter lying fourth shot the opposing skip took an eternity to decide what shot to play. In the end he opted for a split on his own stone for two but was high and heavy away and pumped the only stone outside the house – which was Irish – into the rings and a very welcome count of four shots for Ireland.
The semi final berth was in touching distance as the last end began. Johnjo didn’t risk the tick shot with lead Tony Tierney at this particular moment. He threw his two stones through and David Whyte cleared a guard with each of his stones. Bill Gray took a double with his first and it was just a matter of clearing one more yellow stone.
The Finnish third was attempting to get cover behind the Irish stone on the wings with his last one. Halfway down, the Finnish skip could see it was caught on the guard and started to take his glove off to shake hand when it picked up and rolled into the top of the twelve foot. It was then left to Irish Curling Association President Bill Gray to deliver the coup de grace and nail the take out to take the team into tomorrow morning’s semi finals.
The Irish will meet Norway, skipped by three time World Champion Eigel Ramsjfell, who just happens to be Johnjo Kenny’s all time curling hero.
When a delighted Johnjo came off the ice he was asked about playing the Norwegian legend and if it would affect him?
He replied: ‘No way. It won’t even enter my head who I’m playing I’ll just be concentrating on our game plan. Perhaps on Tuesday night when I’m watching Eastenders I might think about it and have a wee smile to myself.’
The other semi final is Canada, who beat Scotland, against Sweden, who beat New Zealand.