Ding-ding! Round 4

Irish Senior Champions 2015 - Bill Gray, Neil Fyfe, David Whyte and David Hume.

Irish Senior Champions 2015 – Bill Gray, Neil Fyfe, David Whyte and David Hume.

Congratulations to Bill Gray, Neil Fyfe, David Whyte and David Hume who retained their Irish Senior Curling title when winning the fourth game 8-6 in the best of five challenge against Team Robin Gray – in dramatic circumstances.

Team RG were 6-4 up with the hammer, but, drawing to anywhere in the eight foot for the win, Robin’s last stone picked half way down the ice, changed handle, and came up short of the rings, leaving the opposition lying four.

That was after Bill had played a great double (once again) with his last stone to put the pressure on Robin. it was a shame it ended that way, for the spectators anyway, who were all set for a fifth and final game.

Game round up – First end Robin had an open hit for a three but got it on the high side and rolled out. 2-0 to RG. Second end – Bill draws behind cover to be shot, just out counting two opposition stones. Robin tries to follow and push  Bill stone back but didn’t catch it thick enough. Bill’s drew for two but was too heavy. 2-1 Third end – Robin draws the button twice for a two. 4-1. Fourth end – Team BG play draw after draw, Team RG hit after hit and when Bill goes to play his first stone he is facing three stones. He hits the shot and sticks in the middle but when Robin tries to follow his barrier weight stone draws too far and catches a guard. Bill draws for his two. 4-3. Fifth end – There were shed loads of stones in play at this end with Team RG lying one shot with loads of cover. Team RG guarded any raise opportunities and tries unsuccessfully to double raise one of their own shots for two. 5-3. Sixth end – When Bill went to play his last stone the shot was against him behind a wall of stones, but as he had a counter a sitting top 12 he went for an angled raise on one of his front stone on the left hand side back onto the shot – going for a two. He played it well but the stone did not catch the shot fully and although the shot stone spun back to the back of the eight foot, with David Whyte sweeping frantically, it was still shot when it stopped spinning. 6-3, Seventh end – Pressure was on Bill again as it was shot against and a guard covering the it. But the draw to the button on the out-turn was still there and he played it to perfection. Robin had no option but to try and follow him and tap the shot back but he was light. Bill tried the same draw for his two but he was too wide. 6-4.

And the last end went the way of the title holders. 4-8 to BG.

Over the four games, it was a display of guts from the winners who were out-gunned from time to time, but they never panicked, kept  stones in play and either pulled off a big shot at the business end or forced mistakes from the challengers. Robin had three pick-ups that were crucial but that’s curling and his team to a man took the defeat philosophically  and will be back next year to challenge again for the title.

The Irish Senior Champions for 2015  – Bill, Neil, David W and David H –  were always going to put up a fight to “do it for Johnjo” lying in his pit back home in Crossgates with the flu, and show that with or without their talisman skipper they are a team to be respected.

So, The Worlds in Sochi? Ach, We’ll deal with the Sochi question tomorrow!


Ding-ding! Round 3

What a round that was!

Team Gray had the hammer and blanked the first end. Great raise by Bill Gray in end 2 to ge t a shot behind cover and Robin then missed an angled raise with last stone. In the third end an inch perfect freeze by Robin, with four opposition stones lying round about, took the one when Bill could not remove it. Team Gray played a great fourth end, lay two, and left Bill with a very difficult double. Bill and doubles – remember him Eigel Ramjfell? He made it with aplomb and scored a big three. In the next end Robin had a relatively straight forward double for a two  but his last stone picked up and he had to settle for a one. Team Gray’s guddling paid off handsomely in the fifth when they were lying two and tempted Bill to go for the double for a four which was too heavy. With their tails up, Team Gray got a three against the head in the seventh after a great hit and roll by Pete and two excellent guards from Robin. 7-4 to the challengers at that point.

Then came the eight end. Two dodgy ones from Pete left Bill with the chance to freeze on opposition shot. As the title holders also had another counter in play, Robin decided to play his last stone to the other side of the house planning to pull the theatre of play away from the dangerzone on the other side. He made shot stone, but it was sitting just a foot too far back and Bill played an absolute cracker to hit a quarter of his frozen stone and then  roll the shooter over onto Robin’s shot stone thumping it back to lie three. Peels – seven all – extra end.

Team Gray were aiming to keep the road to the four foot clear but stones were ending up in the house and it was looking pretty good for them, lying two, as Robin went down to play his first stone. He put his foot on the left hack and it wobbled all over the place. Time out and stop the time clocks this minute! Before the ice technicians arrived, David Hume placed his brush head over the back of the hack to steady it and allow Robin to play. You couldn’t make it up. He got off the hack all right but it followed him to the tee line. His stone landed in the rings too and a double was still there.  Bill was on fire with double take outs today and he nervelessly nailed another one to lie shot. Robin decided to hit a front stone that would punt his second shot right onto the shot, it was perfectly lined up, but Peter advised him to change the handle from in-turn to out-turn and……. it all went t–s up pulling to far over the face of the shot he was aiming to hit first. Team Kenny (without the Kenny bit) stole the one to win 8-7 and go 2-1 up. Well done to David 1 &  David 2, Neil and Bill.

As Scarlett  O’Hara said ; “Tomorrow is another day”.

Who would believe such drama? Well….if you have watched Irish teams down the years you know it’s always box office stuff.


Ding-ding! Round 2

Team Gray 8 Team Kenny 4

Team Gray were firing left hooks consistently in this round. But Team Kenny were one man down after Johnjo was taken ill. Bill Gray skipped and David Hume led. It was tight in the first four end but a three against the head in the sixth end sealed the win for Robin, Peter, PJ and Tony.

Ding-ding! Round 1 of the senior playdowns


Team Kenny take a two in the last end to draw first blood.

Team Gray had fought their way back from being behind to lead by one after seven ends.

In the last end Robin Gray was given a warning by the umpire that he had 45 seconds left to play his stone. He played it within the time left on the clock but the stone picked up allowing Johnjo Kenny the chance to hit for a two and the win.

Corners everyone – next round 10am tomorrow!

Senior playdowns this weekend

As we all know, the beating heart of any sport is competition.

While boxing had the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, and golf fans still rave about the ‘Duel in the Sun’, Irish curling fans can look forward this weekend to the ‘Ding-Dong in Dumfries’.

Slugging it out in the Mens Senior Championship challenge will be the current champions – Johnjo Kenny, Bill Gray, David Whyte and Neil Fyfe and the challengers – Robin Gray, Peter Wilson, PJ Wilson and Tony Tierney.

Ireland's first mens international team - John Furey, PJ Wilson, Johnjo Kenny, Robin Gray and Peter Wilson  with coach Gordon McIntyre (left) after winning European B League silver in 2004.

Ireland’s first mens international team – John Furey, PJ Wilson, Johnjo Kenny, Robin Gray and Peter Wilson with coach Gordon McIntyre (left) after winning European B League silver in 2004.

Since Irish teams first played international competition in December 2004, most of these eight players have spent their Irish curling careers as teammates rather than opponents. Four of them took Ireland to the Mens World Championships in 2006. Are they competitive?……… Has the Pope a balcony?

All ICA members should try and get to Dumfries Ice Bowl to see the action – you’d be mad to miss this one.

The challenge will be the best of five and the game times are as follows:

Friday 9th –  6.30pm
Saturday 10th –  10am and 3pm
Sunday 11th –  10am and 1.30pm