Our top team in Kelowna are not alone! Hoards of Irish fans have descended on the Rockies town to support the curlers.
Coach Steve Callan as well as composing a comprehensive match report (see below) has also been taking photos to record a few “special moments” of the world championships.
“There was serious concern over the health of skip James Russell who arrived with an injured shoulder and almost no neck movement. We believe the injury was caused by putting his hand in his pocket for a round of drinks. A nasty fall on the ice during Friday’s practice did not help the injury either and made it considerably worse. There was serious concern amongst the team that James would not be fit to start the competition and Ireland would either have to play with three, or if the WCF allowed it, I could step in.
“Thankfully following heavy duty painkillers, acupuncture, massage, a witchdoctor and no sympathy from the team, James made a remarkable recovery within 24 hours to declare himself fit to start against Australia on Saturday night at 8pm local time following the opening ceremony.
“Game 1 versus Australia started slowly for Ireland and were 4-2 down at half time with nerves having a negative impact. Following the restart Ireland fell 5-2 behind. However Ireland pulled 1 back in end 6 and then stole a 2 in end 7 to tie 5-5 going into the last end, but without the hammer. Australia used this to their advantage to draw to the button with their last stone to take the game 6-5.
“Whilst down about losing to a team Ireland were more than capable of beating, the blow was softened by the Aussie team buying several pitchers of beer in the bar afterwards and some good quality banter.
“Next up is a strong Switzerland team ranked sixth in the world on Sunday at 12 noon local time.
“Game 2 started similarly to that against Australia and Ireland found themselves 2 down after end 1. However Coach Callan observed from the evening before that the Swiss team preferred to play a hitting game so Ireland’s tactic was to get plenty of guards out front and draws behind and make life awkward for Switzerland. Ireland quickly imposed themselves on the game and got to half time 3-2 up and playing really well with confidence increasing after ends 2, 3 and 4. The Swiss knew they were in a game.
“Somehow end 5 worked out badly and Ireland shipped a 4 and the momentum swung back to Switzerland. Ireland hit back hard with a 2 in the sixth end to be 6-5 down. Switzerland took their 1 in the seventh end leaving Ireland needing to score 2 in the last to force an extra end. Following excellent stone placement by Katie, Arran and Alisa, James had straightforward draw to tie the game at 7-all.
“The extra end was exciting and nerve wrecking as Ireland had 4 stones counting before Switzerland’s final stone. Their skip played a delicate draw and looked like it was going to catch a guard and hand Ireland a famous but deserved victory. However, the so called “luck of the Irish” failed as the stone clipped the very edge of the guard stone and spun its way into the house and lie 1 and take the game.
“As coach, I could not have been more proud of their efforts against Switzerland who are one of the world’s strongest curling nations. Ireland’s game management and accuracy was a massive improvement on the first game versus Australia and hopefully bodes well for the rest of the competition. Whilst deflated following the loss to Switzerland there is increased confidence within the team that some more positive results will come Ireland’s way.
“Next up is Brazil at 12 noon local time on Monday quickly followed by The