WMCC Roundup …

Kelowna Curling Club

Coaches blog on the past few days in Kelowna at World Mixed Curling Championships.

Day 3: Ireland 10-6 Brazil
I am happy to be corrected but this may have been Ireland’s first sporting victory since Liam Brady popped one in the net at Landsdowne Road in 1987 (ed: Ireland vs Brazil friendly football match for those not in the know).

Things did not start well though and we were quickly down 5-0 after 3 ends. Brazil’s skip could draw anything to the button no matter what was in front of her. Ireland were in trouble. Thankfully a 3 in the 4th end stemmed the tide.

Ailsa Anderson, KT Kerr, Arran Cameron, Steve Callan and James Russell

Following a ‘wee chat’ at half time and a change in tactics and after Brazil took their 1 in the 5th end Ireland went into overdrive and scored a 3 in the 6th to tie the game 6-6. Ireland went onto steal a 3 in the 7th end and another steal of 1 in the final end to run out comfortable winners despite the rocky start and record Ireland’s first win of the week. Confidence was much higher going into the 8pm games versus The Netherlands.

Thankfully the Brazil Coach has agreed to swap his jersey with me at the end of the week. He is of similar build and I was struggling to find an athlete with the same curves!!!

James Russell’s 50th cap for Ireland

Day 3: Ireland 12-3 The Netherlands

A resounding victory on James Russell’s 50th cap for Ireland in 6 ends versus a surprisingly under-performing Netherlands team. Ireland set the tone from the first end with a resounding 6 which appears to be the highest end score in the competition. By half time it was 8-2 and Ireland were in control with good accuracy. The Netherlands scored a 1 in the 5th end but Ireland closed out the game in the 6th end with a 4 to win 12-3.

Ailsa and Katie mean business

After a wee drink with a visibly shell shocked Netherlands team it was straight home to bed as undefeated Russia were next at 8am and USA at 4pm. A tough assignment against the world ranked No.2 team that contained some world championship silver medallists.

Day 4: Ireland 3-8 Russia

A slightly flattering score line against an emotionless but highly skilled Russian team. One of our objectives was to make them smile and we got one or two smirks out of them.

IRL vs RUS

Ireland took the lead with a single in end 1. This rattled the Russians a bit who hit back with a 2 in the second. Ireland levelled in the 3rd end but Russia pulled away with a 2 in the 4th end. They thought it was a 3 with one biting the house. The match umpire said it was in but Alisa stuck to her guns and called for a measure. Just out was the result. I blame a ‘dodgy hole’ but we took it and a bit of the so called ‘luck of the Irish’ came our way.

However Russia stole a 2 in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead. Ireland dug in and grinded out a single in the 6th. Russia again took a 2 when they had hammer. In the 8th end Russia quickly ran us out of stones and hands were shaken before the end.

Ireland played really well against very quality opposition with clear designs on winging the competition. The only real difference was they took twos when they had hammer whilst we took singles.

The defeat was softened by the drinks purchased in the bar afterwards by our opponents!!!!

USA beckoned at 4pm.

Arran, Katie and James at the world championships – photo credit WCF

Day4: Ireland 2 – 6 USA

This defeat was a combination of many things. Irish fatigue with 4 games in 28 hours and USA finally getting their A game out following 3 consecutive defeats.
In addition to this a lack of communication in the first half did not help matters.

Viking Irish Support

Ireland trailed by by 3 to 1 at half time but soon became 5-1 after end 5. It could have been a hand shake at end 6 with Ireland lying 3 against before James made a tremendous draw to the 4 foot for a 1. USA took another 1 in end 7 and hands were shaken midway through end 8 once we were run out of stones.

USA were clinical and we just could not match them. The USA coach confided that she watched us versus Switzerland and The Netherlands and warned her team that

“we were an ‘awesome’ team with enough capability to beat them”.

I like to think of it as justified respect for Ireland.

Katie Kerr, Mike Kerr and James Russell

It was a special occasion for our LA team member KT Kerr playing against her country of birth. A good time was had by both teams in the bar afterwards before team Ireland and Austria went on the well organised pub crawl arranged by the local committee. Arran and I made it to the small hours and found all the Irish pubs in Kelowna. There are just 2 by the way!

Day 5

News filtered through that morning that Russia were finally beaten. Who were Ireland’s next opponent but the team that beat them, Finland who themselves had aspirations of doing very well in the competition.

Ailsa, Arran and Katie on the ice – photo credit WCF

Ireland 4-3 Finland (after extra end)

What a game of high intensity, skilled and sh*t in your pants curling.
It was clear from the outset that Finland were quality opposition but Ireland were up for the fight following a chat about improved communication and the importance of good guards from the outset.

Finland had to play a perfect hit and roll across to take their 1 in the first end. A blank end in the 2nd meant Ireland retained the hammer. James Russell played a delicate draw to take 1 in the third to tie the game. A poor end in the 4th saw Finland score a 2 and take a 3-1 lead at half time.

A positive half time discussion meant Ireland’s going back out firmly believing a win was possible.

Ireland reduced the deficit by one in the 5th end which was followed by a blanking the 6th. Following some exceptional guards and draws by Katie, Arran, Alisa and James, Ireland stole a very important point to tie the game going down the last. Whilst not having the hammer Ireland looked confident but a mistake by Finland was needed. This came in the very last stone. James had spotted that the Finnish skip was a tad weaker on his outurn and James placed his final stone out wide on the 12 foot and invite Finland to either go for a hit and stick or a draw to an empty 8 foot. He opted to go for the hit and stick but he slid marginally wide and whilst he cleared the Irish stone his slid off to the side and an accidental blank. Extra end and by now a huge crowd had gathered as an Irish win had significant implications for Australia and Switzerland.

As we were without the hammer again we needed to steal. The following was the sequence of Irish stones – guard, guard, guard, guard, guard, guard, guard and a draw to the 8 foot by James and hidden by numerous guards. The Finnish skip had to draw to the 4 foot for the win. However he slid out light and despite a wee pop, it overcurled and caught an Irish guard leaving Ireland with a momentous win and huge cheers from the USA, Swiss and Aussie teams standing behind me plus the crowd upstairs.

An exceptional game of curling by both sides that had everything. I don’t normally get too emotional but a tear was shed afterwards whilst packing up after the game. Finland were understandably gutted as it prevented them from making the play offs but joined us shortly after for a drink and we remain good friends.

A wee Irish celebration continued back at the house.

IRL vs DEN

Day 6: Ireland 4-9 Denmark

Final day of the round robin saw us face Denmark who had already qualified for the play offs and as we were out, it was a dead rubber. It would have been nice to finish with a win but Denmark were too strong and ran out 9-4 winners in 6 ends.

Whilst it may have been a competition of a few could and should haves, Team Ireland performed exceptionally well against high standard opposition in a ‘group of death’ and can hold their heads very high. We have made many friends at the competition and the future of Irish Curling looks good. It was certainly my proudest moment in my curling career.

Coach Callan

Day 6 in Östersund

The Irish teams in Östersund at the World Seniors and Mixed Doubles on the last day of the round robin games.

Photo: @WCF / Richard Gray

The Senior men played Russia in a tense, closely fought game, but a steal of 2 in the final end saw an end to their progression prospects.

Bill Gray commented “Didn’t do enough to put away the challenge of a spirited Russian team. This leaves us at the mercy of the Draw Shot Challenge which isn’t good enough to rank us above Finland. Looks like the dream is over for this year. ☹”

They finish 4th place in group C with 3 wins and 3 losses.

Photo: @WCF / Richard Gray

The Senior Women took on Latvia in their last game of the competition.

Ireland lost their last game to Latvia

They finish 6th place in group B with 2 wins and 5 losses.

Photo: @WCF / Richard Gray

The Mixed Doubles duo played Brazil in their last round robin game of the competition. This was one of their best performances of the competition so far and a very closely fought game.

They finished in 8th place in group E with no wins.

Day 5 in Östersund

The Irish teams in Östersund at the World Seniors and Mixed Doubles day 5 of the round robin games.

The Senior Women had a tough game against the Finnish team.

Tomorrow they have another early start, playing their final round robin game against Latvia at 08:00.

The Senior men played in a crucial game against USA. Bill Gray commented “Massive result from the competition perspective. Still haven’t played our best but one more win tomorrow morning should see us into the playoffs. Great support from our fellow Irish Athletes!”

They are currently third in group C – all to play for as they play their final round robin game against Russia at 08:00 tomorrow with a chance to qualify for the playoffs.

Seniors support from the Mixed Doubles team – John Furey and Eoin McCrossan Photo: @WCF / Tom Rowland

The Mixed Double duo played Austria. Tomorrow they meet Brazil at 17:45 in their final round robin match.

Day 4 in Östersund

The Irish teams in Östersund at the World Seniors and Mixed Doubles day 4 of the round robin games.

The Senior Women had a tough game against the undefeated Scottish group leaders in the first session of day 4. The team concluded “We were outplayed by a very classy Scottish team.” Tomorrow they have another early start, playing Finland at 08:00.

The Senior men played Croatia in the evening and got one step closer – only two more games to go. They commented “Not particularly impressive for the first four ends but ran out comfortable winners against Croatia“. They are currently fourth in their group – all to play for as they meet team USA at 12:00 tomorrow.

The Mixed Double duo had a two match day. They played Germany in the morning and Guyana in the late evening. Tomorrow they meet Austria at 17:45.

Photo: @WCF / Richard Gray

Photo: @WCF / Richard Gray

Day 3 in Östersund

No wins for the Irish teams in Östersund at the World Seniors and Mixed Doubles day 3 of the round robin games.

The Senior men played Norway in the afternoon and after a close match Norway managed to steal one in the last two ends to take the match.

Bill Gray commented “Always singled out as a tough assignment and so it proved although we were in control for large parts of the game. Losing a steal of 1 in the 7th when we were shaping up for at least a two was a bad break but lying 1 with hammer in the last when the Norwegian skip played a tremendous draw with his last to lie shot. JJ’s run back for the game stayed high and we gave up 1 and the game. Three to go and all must win games if we are to reach Goal 1 – the qualification stage. Thanks to all the supporters- esp Scots who added to the noise level” .Tomorrow Ireland play Croatia at 20:00.

The Senior Womens team played Switzerland.See their overview here. Tomorrow they play Scotland at 08:00.

The Mixed Double duo had another difficult match against a top Korean team. Team member, Eoin McCrossan commented “In today’s game against the Korea, the Irish MD team completed their tough start which saw them play 3 of the world’s top teams (Canada and Czech Republic). A solid DSC saw Ireland win the hammer and showed early promise with untaken opportunities the hallmark of the first half. A poor fifth end saw the game slip away and the team made sure they bowed out on a score in the sixth. Thoughts now to turn to two-game Tuesday where Germany and Guyana lie in wait.

They play Germany at 11:15am and Guyana at 9pm tomorrow.

Day 2 in Östersund

Busy Irish teams in Östersund at the World Seniors and Mixed Doubles day 2 of the round robin games.

The Senior Women win two games in one day (read all about it here) .Tomorrow they play Switzerland at 4pm.


The Senior men were also successful against  Latvia with Bill Gray commenting “Usual game vs Latvia!. Right down to the wire. Glad to come out on top thanks to a belter from the big man, Johnjo, with his first in the last end to set up the 2 for the win.” They play Norway at 8pm tomorrow.

“The Big Man” @ WCF / Tom Rowland

The Mixed Double duo had another difficult match against the top Czech Republic team. They play another top team, Korea, at 8am tomorrow.

Day 1 in Östersund

Opening Ceremony

Challenging games for the Irish in Östersund at the World Seniors and Mixed Doubles opening day of the round robin games.

The Senior Men commented “Tough loss 7-6 to a good Finnish outfit. Tight game esp when we got our noses in front with a 4 in the 7th end. Went for the steal in the last but he drew for 2 and the win.” They play Latvia at 8am tomorrow.


The Senior Ladies met neighbouring England and despite a tight start, lost 11-4. They play Italy at 8:30am and New Zealand at 8pm tomorrow.

Ireland and England ladies teams.

Louise Kerr commented “After a steady start over the first few ends the change to a hitting game undid the Irish women and resulted in the loss of a four in the third. But the team bounced back with a two in the next end to level the scores after a perfect draw from skip Marie O’Kane. After the fourth end break, the speed of the ice caught the Irish women off guard and resulted in the loss of a big end. The English women played better than we did and deserved the victory.”

The Mixed Doubles duo played top Canadian side and where unable to score, closing at 12-0. They play Czech Republic tomorrow at 14:30.

ECC 2018 C Division Olympic Report

The detailed report on the Irish Mens European Curling Championship performance below was taken from the Olympic Council of Ireland website.

@ WCF / Tom Rowland

As part of the Irish Curling Association’s four-year campaign to qualify for the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, Ireland’s men’s team won bronze yesterday at the European C Division Championships in Denmark, missing out on promotion to the B Division by just one shot.

The team – John Wilson, Andrew Gilmore, Craig Whyte, John Furey and alternate Eoin McCrossan – took Belarus to an extra end in the play-off for the last promotion place but went down 6-5 after Belarus took one shot in the 11th end.

Eight European teams played out a round-robin over the five days of competition and, after finishing on a four-win, three-loss record, Ireland, coached by Martin Sutherland, found themselves in third position behind Denmark and Belarus, thanks to their superior score in the pre-game draw shot challenge.

On Monday morning they beat the fourth placed team Bulgaria 12-4 to guarantee them at least the bronze medal. In the afternoon they were back on the ice in the Tarnby Ice Centre playing for silver against the loser of the 1 v 2 gold game between Denmark and Belarus – Belarus.

The stakes were high as the Irish and the Belarusians battled hard over 11 ends for both the silver medal and the second promotion spot to the European B Division Curling Championships in Estonia in November 2018.

A very tense game started off with a blank end. The teams then swapped the hammer over the next five ends but Belarus managed two shots each time whilst Ireland found only singles. A blank in the eighth end followed by a one in the ninth left the Irish lads looking to steal a two in the tenth, which they dramatically did to tie the scores at 5-5, forcing the match into an extra end decider.

Unfortunately, after a three-hour tussle, Ireland were not able to prevent the Belarusian skip, Pavel Petrov, taking out the Irish shot stone, with the last stone of the game, to take the silver and the promotion berth.

Irish team spokesperson John Furey said afterwards: “Once again the Irish men’s curling team have failed to secure either the gold or silver medal and qualification to the European B group. Again, we were left with the bronze medal.

“The week began fairly slowly with two losses to Belarus and Belgium. A large part of this can be put down to our new back end of John Wilson and Andrew Gilmore as this was their first time together at a European level competition. Thereafter the team played very solidly working their way up from the bottom of the group after day one to third at the end of the group stage.

“There were a number of positives throughout the week:

– The way the team pulled together after the first two losses

– The draw shot challenge of ~31.35 cm which was the best across all teams and comparable to the type of values posted by teams in the world championship. This included a LSD of 7mm. Additionally, three of the top five last stone draws were by the Irish team.

– We scored the biggest end of the week a 6 against Andorra while the max we conceded was a 3.

“On the final day we had two games to play. The first was against Bulgaria and we beat them fairly easily with our best and most consistent play.

“The second game, against Belarus, was the silver/ bronze decider. In retrospect, the team believes we played the wrong tactics, engaging in a hitting game and going behind at the half time mark. At this juncture we changed to a more nuanced game of curling with many more stones in play and immediately saw benefits, unfortunately we ran out of ends, though we did force the Belarus skip to throw a tricky hit of a half-hidden stone for his last.”

This is the Irish men’s team fourth bronze medal in five years in the European C Division. The ultimate goal is promotion first to the B Division and then up to the elite A Division where a top seven ranking qualified Ireland for the Olympic Games.

The team, who range in ages from 19 to 50 are completely self-funded and hold down full-time jobs while pursuing their dream of becoming Olympians.