Day 1 Game 1 At the European Curling Championships in Karlstad, Sweden
Latvia 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 – 5
Ireland 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 – 6
Ireland got off to a wining start in their first game against Latvia in the 2012 European Curling championships in Karlstad. And Latvia, one of the stronger teams in the B division, promised a tough test for the relatively inexperienced Irish side.
The game started tentatively with Latvia ultimately burying a shot on the edge of the four feet with the last two stones to be played. However, power sweeping by the Irish team dragged an out-counting corner freeze onto the hidden Latvian stone forcing their skip to draw to the four foot to take his single.
The second end was similar in tone. The Latvians finished the end with a shot buried in the middle of the eight but the route to the button was open and the Irish team drew to the four to take a single.
At this stage the Latvians were edging the Irish team slightly and they decided to open up their play in the third. However, a couple of misplaced shots and a jamb, left Irish counters lying in the twelve. On the final Irish stone a simple draw to the top of the four came up a foot short which was enough to tempt the Latvians into the draw for their single but they misjudged the shot entirely ceding a three to a disbelieving Irish side.
At this stage the Irish team were well and truly confused. Amongst all the scenarios previously run through in training, one-down, two-down, three-down, peels…three-up wasn’t considered. A quick confab came up with the solution ‘keep it clean’. At the same time the Latvians must have decided ‘all-out attack’. And the next five ends were painful as the fortuitous lead slowly evaporated. However, the Latvians were running out of ends and at the ninth end the Irish team realised that the game was almost done…if they became a bit aggressive. A fleeting chance arose and a second from last Irish draw onto an Irish stone sitting on the button meant the Latvians had to lift a tricky double to stop the two. They only managed one of the stones leaving the Irish with a simple draw to put some daylight between the two teams again.
The last end was played out very quickly due to time pressure on both sides. The Latvians had a half stone hit to take a two and force the extra end but their striking stone rolled out leaving the Irish team pleased-as-punch 6-5 winners. Prior to the match the Irish team were worried about their speed of play but I’m pleased to announce they had a comfortable 25 seconds on the clock at the end of play.
Written from Sweden by John Furey