So, first off I’ll apologise for not keeping the match reports up-to-date. When you are playing upwards of 20 slow ends in a day it can be tough to find the time to play; eat; sleep; tend to personal matters; have a good fight over how you are playing; and then write the whole experience up in a semi-coherent manner.
Rather than retrospectively fill in the match report blanks, I thought I would wrap up the European campaign for this year with a summary describing what went well and what went badly. And next year – when we try this again – we’ll probably dig out this entry just to make sure that the lessons are properly remembered.
We finished up the tournament fairly low in the rankings but on the positive side, we won the draw shot challenge quite comfortably with Craig proving that he had the steadiest draw of anyone. He can even rightly point to the sweepers for a lax first effort when we were still adjusting to the speed of the ice. We will make better use of our drawing ability in games to come.
But if there was one real positive aspect to our play it is that we are a team that does not give up as evidenced by the fact that we came back in every match where we were down, sometimes by quite a large number of shots and basically took every game to the last shot of the last end. As a result we finished the tournament with no team thinking they had much, if any, edge over us.
On the not so good side, we are still a wee bit slow on the ice, more so when we are playing other slow teams. We managed to seriously annoy the referees on a couple of occasions (against Serbia and Romania) where the games really dragged. But interestingly, I think the slowest game of the whole tournament was the silver/bronze game between Serbia and Romania. We knew about this feature of our play before the tournament but we probably need to work on it again.
Back to the positive. I got the impression that we were one of the best teams in the tournament when we were required to steal an end. Conversely, I think we were one of the worst when it came to hammer efficiency. This got to the stage where I was happy stealing ends as it meant we didn’t have deal with our issue of having the hammer. I’ll probably work out the statistics for this at some point as it’s probably the major issue of our game for us to address. That, and the fact that we have difficulty bullying lesser sides.
I should perhaps say that all the teams in the tournament were quite capable of drawing the button when required and we shouldn’t have been surprised when they demonstrated said ability against us. Additionally, I would hazard a guess that all the teams we played were actually more motivated playing against us than other opposition. Where was the love?
So, results wise, not the best of tournaments but I came away from it thinking that there was a lot more potential in our play. Any one of half a dozen improvements in our game would have seen us in the medals. For instance, not losing a big end after winning a big end would have made our life so much easier.
I watched a number of ends of curling over the course of the week and quite a few of them had exceptional shots in them but the one end I will still be remembering next year when all else is forgotten was the last end against the Serbians. A four was needed to take the game into an extra end and to be honest if we’d shaken at this point I don’t think anyone would have been overly surprised. After six shots the Irish team had six perfect shots lined up, a long guard, a short guard and four in the house. Each shot was perfectly bisected by the centreline. We had the shot for the four and the split on the short guard was only very narrowly missed. This was the perfect demonstration of how we can play. Every other team saw it and i’m sure they’ll still be remembering it next year as well.