THE members of the Irish teams who participated in the recent World Senior Curling Championships in Fredericton would like to thank everyone who send cards and messages of support. They were much appreciated.
CHRISTINA has become the proud grandmother of twins who arrived a few hours ago at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
The babies – one boy, one girl – have already been claimed for the Irish mixed doubles team in 2033.
So….this is just a round up of bits and pieces of what’s gone on this week off the ice as they pop into my head. The first shock yesterday morning was hearing that Austria had beaten Scotland in the ladies semi-final. When I spoke to Christine Cannon later she said she could not believe the number of raised double take outs the skip made in the game. Of course, as I reminded her, they wouldn’t have been playing Austria at all if we had beaten them the day before! Anyway, the Austrians put up no sort of opposition to Canada in the final losing a six at the first end. You could see they were just delighted to be there and just shrugged their shoulders at the scoreline. The best game was the Scotland v Sweden bronze medal game. Ingrid and her team were out-played for most of the game but kept just hanging in there and making the Scots make their last shots. It went to an extra end and although Christine’s girls had got two in the house Ingrid just had to bite the eight foot for the win and played it perfectly.
The men’s title went to Canada who beat the New Zealand men who were the surprise of the week. Their skip also played in the mixed doubles, arriving for his seniors games at about the third end. It was an emotional week for them as Pat Cooney’s wife Carolyn had a stroke on the first day of the competition. A silver medal is a little consolation for the tough road they have ahead of them. She will have to stay here for some time yet but the curling community have stepped in with offers of accomodation and help.
The Irish had their own health issues with PJ so ill with man flu he went to bed on Thursday night and didn’t surface until Saturday afternoon. As Neil put it: “Imagine spending all that money to come here and then spend two days in your bed.”
THE closing banquet was a bit of a disappointment. The “do” was supposed to kick off at 9pm but as there had been an extra end in the senior ladies bronze game and the mixed doubles final it started about an hour later. Then there were the speeches to listen to before the meal. Best moment was when Kate Caithness asked the Hungarian mixed doubles gold medallists to come up to the podium to do their bit only to be told they were at the pizza place down the road! Don’t blame them we would have been better there too. The meal was very ordinary. The chicken was tasteless and considering the food was served an hour later than scheduled the carrots were more than al dente. Raw was the word. As Gerry commented : “I’m glad we didn’t turn up early.”
A whole lot of shirt swapping was going on as usual. Everyone seemed to want to swap with Pete as he had an armful of shirts either going out or coming in. Marie did a great swap with the wee O’Leary wumman from the USA and I was delighed to get a top from Jenny Riordan from Australia as Reardon was my mother’s maiden name. The goodies you get from other teams are amazing and they put a lot of effort into giving you unusual gifts. My favourite was the Japanese goodie bag containing Hello Kitty socks and a GREEN Kit-Kat!
THE organising committee did a great job on the whole. The buses didn’t always run quite as they were supposed to. One night we waited at the players entrance for the 6.15pm bus until 7pm only to discover it had gone to the front of the arena. But the courtesy cars were a blessing as there was always a volunteer falling over themselves to drive you anywhere you wanted to go.
We were amused that the food bar in the area seemed to be manned during the day by octogenarians. A novel take on ‘care in the community’ New Brunswick style. It maybe took a while longer to get your hot dog and fries and the digital till seemed beyond most of them, but then were so cheery and interested in where you came from and how you were doing it didn’t really matter.
The hotel was great and the beds were TO DIE FOR!! Christina will miss my “I love my bed” mantra every night as I slid between the sheets. It was the mattress topper that did it for me.
The Diplomat diner next door was a great place to eat as it was open for business night and day. After the boys last game a few drinks were taken in the hotel bar. At three in the morning, Johnjo, Gillian, Neil and Tom went over to the Diplomat for a steak and eggs breakfast. Gilly Drury’s yogurt and granola choice one morning would have fed the entire team.
That’s all I can think off just now. I have been distracted by the sight of Big Chris and Izzy Hannen dancing like Fred and Ginger though the lobby for a New Brunswick film crew.
WOMEN – IRELAND 6 AUSTRIA 8
THE girls from Ireland had a great last game here in the World Senior Curling Championships when they were so close to either beating Austria or at least taking them to an extra end. The Austrians got a three in the first and the Irish came straight back with a three in the second. On extremely keen ice the girls got their weight at last and after losing a one at the third got a two in the fourth end after Marie played a perfect weight draw. The Austrians got on buried in the fifth and Ireland took a one in the sixth when they should have had a two or even three but the team decided to draw for the two, when lying one, rather then tap or split a stone in that was a couple of inches short of the house. Unfortunately Marie was heavy. They lost a one in the seventh and then went into only their second eighth end of the competition. The Austrians got a stone in behind cover early but Louise and Gilly cleared the covering stones. The Austrian third was heavy with her guard and sat alongside the shot in the house. Gilly went for the double but only got the one. The Austrian was heavy again and set up another double. Marie had a go at that double, only getting one, but lying second shot. The Austrian skip guarded again but left options on. Marie initially though about the tap up on the Irish second shot but Louise suggested hitting the Austrian guard back three feet onto the shot. The team took a time out to discuss what to do and decided to go for the hit but it didn’t come off and the Austrians stole the one. Gilly’s husband John said he overheard a Canadian in the crowd saying: “Where have the Irish been all week? They CAN curl.”
MEN – IRELAND 4 JAPAN 8
THE Irish mens team are out of the World Senior Curling Championships here in Fredericton after losing 8-4 to Japan this morning. Skip Peter Wilson had command of draw weight from the draw shot challenge and drew for one at the first and stole a one at the second after the Japanese skip hit and rolled in for second shot when he had three counters against him. In the third attempts to get an Irish counter behind cover failed and the Japanese skip hit for two. The crutch the skip uses was likened by Johnjo to a towel rail – certainly never seen the like before. In the fouth PJ had a great hit and roll to freeze on top of a Japan stone on the button. Japan then freeze that to try and stop the two but Pete elects to hit it at an angle to jam it on the back stone for two but gets it too thick and when the granite settled the Japanese stone was the shot. In the fifth the Jap skip drew to the four to lie two and Pete was heavy when trying to follow him giving up a two. The world title was hanging by a thread now but both Johnjo (with hits) and pete (draws) played great shot at the sixth for a two. But the wheels came off in the seventh. Japan were lying two, but all of the eight foot was open on Pete’s in turn, but he elected to play a very tricky double on the out turn that didn’t come off and the towel rail drew for a three. The end was nigh and we were run out of stones, and hope, shortly afterwards.
Team – P Wilson, JJ Kenny, PJ Wilson, N Fyfe.
WOMEN – IRELAND 3 JAPAN 11
THE ladies enjoyed their game against the Japanese ladies and with Louise playing second stones and Gilly at third it was a change that was worth trying. We still lost mind you! But we had a good end when getting the three with Marie nailing the draw to the button for three through a port. The most important thing we took from this game was learning how to say ” thank you” in Japanese.
Team – M O’Kane, G Drury, L Kerr, C Graham
MEN – IRELAND 11 CZECH REPUBLIC 2
IT was a meaningless game but the Irish team showed what they were capable of doing by hammering the Czechs in their last game at this year’s senior world championships. Johnjo took over as skip to give Pete a rest and the team never looked in any trouble from the first end until it was all over at the end of the sixth when the Irish were out of sight. I didn’t take notes for this game but sat back and watched a game that, talking about it afterwards, gave them all a good feeling about having played in. Ireland finish on a won 5 lost 4 record.
Team – JJ Kenny, PJ Wilson, N Fyfe, T Roche.
MEN – IRELAND 8 FRANCE 1
THE Irish men had a comfortable win this afternoon against a French team who helped matters considerably by having a skip who was not on top of his game today. A three in the first end was the building block for a 5 -1 lead at half time. Pete’s last stone in the fourth end was a excellent double take out for the one. After stealing a two in the sixth, Neil went for a seat on the bench to let Tom on the ice to stretch his legs. Absolutely nothing to do with him but the French were suddenly lying three shots when
Pete went to play his last stone! His attempted freeze was almost perfect, but sat shot slightly in front of two French stones giving them a squeak of making the four if he chipped it out (picture attached) but the French skip was wide and heavy and it was handshake time.
CORRECTION – I have been getting pelters, as usual, for saying they were out of the running this year. Of course, technically they are not out but they need New Zealand to lose two games out of their three remaining ties. This misinformation was gleaned from Neil last night who was on the worse side of three alcoholic beverages and was sure that the door had slammed shut on the gold medal. However, all is not lost after all but keep your fingers crossed. Not blaming Neil by the way. I should have checked with someone who can count.
ILLNESS – Since we arrived one by one we have gone down with the cold. I got it first, then JJ was full of it, PJ was next and he was feeling so grim last night he went off to bed at 7pm and could hardly get off the hotel sofa when the bus arrived to take them to the game today. Skip Pete said at lunchtime he thought he was coughing up blood this morning but decided it was just strawberries. We are blaming the air conditioning vents in the arena that blow cold air down the back of your neck if your are sitting in the stands. JJ’s Gillian, who is an authority on the ice rinks of the world, reckons only Monthey in December 2010 was colder. You are fine on the ice but when you come off it catches up with you.
TRIVIA – the strangest scoreline and the one everyone is talking about is Australia’s ladies beating the Finnish women 11-10 after an extra end. The Finns were 10-0 up after three ends and then managed to lose 11 straight shots over the next six ends.Three twos, a three and two singles. And it went to a measure in the eighth which the Aussie’s won! Ladies curling…………
WOMEN – IRELAND 1 NEW ZEALAND 10
OH dear. This was just a nightmare game for the Irish girls. After the New Zealand team had taken a two at the first end and stolen a one at the second, we had a straight forward hit for a four at the third but for the upteenth time this week we didn’t take enough ice and Marie’s stone just clipped a front one giving up another one. After that it went downhill against a team that were outcurling us. We managed to get on the board finally at the fifth end when Louise froze on top of the New Zealand stone right on the button. Marie drew on top of that one to lie two but the Kiwi skip played a nice hit to roll Marie’s to the side and Marie’s last draw for two was heavy. That was the only highlight I’m afraid.
Team – M O’Kane, L Kerr, G Drury, C Graham.
I lost some of that blog last night, but what was in the original draft was that on a three win – three loss record, the men are out for this year.
Ladies are off now to play New Zealand.
WOMEN – IRELAND 8 – RUSSIA 4
THE Irish ladies got their first win here today at the World Senior Curling Championships in Fredericton when thy beat Russia 8-4. This was a bizarre game. The Russian ladies could only field three players as one team member’s father died last night and she had to fly home. We got a good two at the first end and were looking good for a two at the second but Louise wanted the girls to sweep for a catch on a front stone to block the four foot but it caught the stone too thick and punted it in the open on the edge of the button. The Russian skip absolutely nailed the hit. It was obvious they had taken on board advice after getting a curling lesson from the Canadian coach! They then played out of their skins making hits and rolls and stealing shots at every end. At one point there were only two Russian players on the ice, don’t know where the sweeper disappeared to. Anyway thankfully we guddled in the seventh and Marie had a great hit for a four. In the last end we ran them out of stones but the skip refused to stop the game! The umpire had the score card under her nose but she was pushing him away to give ice!
Team – M O’Kane, L Kerr, G Drury, C Graham.
MEN – IRELAND 3 ITALY 5
After Italy got a right gubbing last night this should have been a nailed on win for the Irish team but it wasn’t to be. The faces were a bit long when I came in, but later Neil said they hadn’t played badly and Pete had kept them in it during the first four ends but a hit and roll that went just the wrong way in the fifth end got them into trouble losing a one. In the last end the Irish were lying one at the back of the eight when Pete came to play his last stone but the Italians had second shot. Pete elected to draw for second shot to put them under pressure but he was a tad light and it ended up shot and directly in front of the Italian stone. The Italian then hid the back Irish stone and rolled out leaving Pete a shot to hit his own one straight back into the Italian one for two but he took a wee bit too much ice and halfed his own one out leaving them lying one for the 5 -3 win. JJ is suffering from a heavy head cold and PJ came on as the sub. His knees are holding up but the slide is getting higher and higher every game.
Team – P Wilson, JJ Kenny (sub PJ Wilson), N Fyfe T Roche.
MEN – IRELAND 4 NORWAY 5
THIS went to an extra end and when the Norwegian skip drew the four foot the Irish knew they were out of this year’s competition. Pete had a great game and as he said himself he played “like a ******* trojan but still we lost”. Most of the ends were hits for one but Pete played a great angled raise on a shot at 3 o’ clock on the edge of the four onto the Norwegian shot sitting back four, behind the guard, to take it into an extra end. The last end was a case of Neil and PJ putting up centre guards and the Norway boys peeling them. JJ second stone was a hit and roll in off off the Norwegian stone behind the Irish guard. Norway’s third peeled the front guard. Pete hit and rolled off the Noway stone that had creeped into the house to ten o’ clock on the 12 foot, getting behind cover. We were lying two in a line so the opposition skip took off the top one. Pete drew to the top four to lie two in a line again but the Norwegian skip kept his cool and drew into the four foot for the win.
TEAM – P Wilson, JJ Kenny, PJ Wilson, N Fyfe.
Dancing on ice …
MEN – IRELAND 6 LATVIA 5
I don’t know how many times we supporters can go through this. The team were in a comfortable position at the sixth end at 6-3 up, but the seventh end was just a guddle. But …. Pete had a hit for one (Latvians were sitting three!) to get 7-3 but took too much ice and chipped the stone and rolled out giving up a two.
However they all played a corker of a last end and with a guard up and an Irish stone behind the button they peeled out everything the opposition tried to get frozen onto the shot. When Pete went to play his first stone the Irish were lying two and he elected to block the angle on a Latvian stone out front, which he did. The Latvian skip then tried a near impossible draw to the button which was…..as it turned out….impossible.
Team – P Wilson, JJ Kenny, PJ Wilson, N Fyfe.
PJ’s knee is giving him jip so he will sit out tomorrow’s game against Italy and Tom Roche will come off the bench. But the good news is his back is fine.