Take a look at this short video (courtesy of Jonhjo) as the men’s team prepared for the European Championships in Basel in 2006.
Author Archives: Bill Gray
WSCC 2019 Games 4,5 & 6
GAME 4: Ireland 4 – 7 Japan
Three days is a long time in curling!! The Senior Men joined battle with Japan on Tuesday night in a significant game with qualification in mind. Right from the outset, the guys were a bit cagey and not quite hitting their straps and a tight game resulted which was not really what the doctor ordered. The scores remained close but could have been so much different had a hit by Skip Bill in the 2nd end not chipped a Japanese stone into shot position where a hit and stick would have left Ireland lying 4 or 5 putting pressure on Fujisawa-san.
(Yep his younger daughter is Satsuki Fujisawa who skipped the Japanese women to Bronze in the 2018 Olympics).Ultimately Ireland needed a steal in the last to keep the game alive but Bill’s last draw just came up short and gave the opposition a hit to clear the irish counter to leave him with a single shot to win. Definitely a game to forget for the Irish.
GAME 5 ENGLAND 1 – 11 IRELAND
The Senior boys were back on the tricky and slow sheet G again the next day, taking on England. This was a much more promising effort with Ireland moving into a 5 shot lead in the first end and controlling the game all the way to the 7th when England conceded. The real drama at this point however was the Last Stone Draw and associated Draw Shot Challenge as with Japan having beaten Ireland and Poland beating Japan, if Ireland managed to beat Poland then Draw Shot could determine qualification. A nervy LSD by Bill and David resulted in our overall DSC being top of their group, just 2cm ahead of Poland so moving into the final RR game against Poland, it was to be a straight shootout for qualification.
GAME 6 IRELAND 4 – 7 POLAND
In a nutshell this was comfortably the most disappointing defeat in the recent team’s history – probably out ranking the disappointment of not beating Russia last year in Ostersund at the same stage. What made it worse was that the team played exceptionally well for 6 ends with total control and pressurised their Polish opponents in every end, leading 4-2 after the 6th. Then disaster struck in the 7th end. A series of missed shots or poor results from shots along with one poor tactical call resulted in Poland lying 4 when Bill came to play his first skip stone. A heavy multiple take out was called and executed well but only resulted in one Polish counter exiting the house and the others being spread around – lying three. The Polish skip played a draw to the back 4 to lie 4 and Bill was left to try and cover that stone and hope that it wouldn’t be able to be struck out. His draw was fractionally heavy and missed the break point which resulted in it taking a different path to similar shots which had been played well all game. The stone agonisingly slipped past the back 4 stone and gave the Polish skip an open draw for a 5, which he made. Ireland were now 7-4 down in the last and tried hard to manufacture a three but some strong hitting (and a couple of fortunate ones at that) by the Poles ran the boys out of stones. The dream was over for yet another year but this time it seemed so much more deflating coughing up a big end when they had been in control.
Poland have made great strides in the past couple of years and it was good to have a chat with them afterwards as their association with our great friend Tony Tierney who coached Agnieska (the Polish coach) and also with Gordon McIntyre who had coached some of the Polish Senior team as well as Ireland seniors over the years.
Reflecting on the week, Skip Bill said, ” As ever it has been a privilege to represent Ireland at a World competition and I am proud to be part of this band of brothers and we should be similarly proud of our efforts this week. Ultimately, I think we lacked some of the consistency we have had in previous campaigns and made a few too many errors at crucial times – something you can’t afford to do at this level if you want to progress, particularly as the standard at seniors is still increasing at the top end. Despite all of that, we’ve had a blast – made more new curling friends – had a barrel load of laughs at various times and seen some amazing scenery in and around Stavanger. We are now officially broke however!!. Onwards and upwards.”
WSCC 2019 Game 3
Switzerland 8 – 3 Ireland
While Mark Twain memorably said that ‘golf was a good walk spoiled’, we could butcher that phrase to ‘Today was a good day spoiled!’
The Team set off on a marvellous fjord cruise which included viewing Pulpit Rock some 600 metres above the fjord. A most impressive sight even from the safety of the boat – some of our intrepid colleagues are threatening to go and view it from the top……A fantastic trip.
The reality however was that the real business was a game against Stefan Karnusian’s Swiss team at 8pm. A good draw shot achieved the hammer for the third game running and the early scoring of singles in the first three ends highlighted the closeness of the game, although Bill had to draw against three in the first to get the 1 point. Ireland’s 4th end malaise appeared for the 2nd game running when the team got themselves into trouble as a result of a couple of near perfect corner freezes which either came up fractionally short or agonisingly rubbed guards. The net result was a score of three to Switzerland to take a 4-2 lead at the halfway point. The trend of just being on the wrong side of perfect continued into the 5th end where Bill’s nose hit attempt for 1 just rolled past the 2nd Swiss counter to allow a steal of 1 (the first steal the team had given in the competition so far). The 6th end was similar with the Swiss getting their stones into better positions than Ireland and a nose hit double for a single was all that they could muster. Going down the 7th 3-5 down required some gambling and despite a couple of loose shots, there was a possibility of creating something with the skippers last to pick out a stone near the button but yet again, millimetres of margin meant that the Swiss skip had a straightforward draw for his three and the boys conceded. A good day slightly spoiled by the result – the Swiss team played exceptionally well and Ireland struggled to impose themselves. Qualification from the group is still on but it will need to be wins from here on in against sides that will no doubt be improving. Next up Japan at 8pm Norge time Tuesday.
Curling at the Olympics; Curling in Ireland
We have been receiving a considerable number of enquires from people wanting to try curling, as a result of the excellent coverage of curling at the Olympics.
As an Association, we are hugely frustrated that we can’t offer any opportunities in Ireland at the moment due to the lack of any facilities. We have, over the last 15 years, tried along with the Irish Ice Hockey Association and the Irish Skating Association of Ireland, to get a viable ice rink up and running but to no avail. We are still trying!!
We hope to be able to offer some come and try sessions next Christmas but we realise that this doesn’t appease demand at the moment.
Stranraer Ice Rink, in Scotland, is offering come and try sessions (this is the closest ice rink and the cheapest to get to) and you would be made most welcome. Click Try Curling link below.
In the meantime, please also add your name to the Petition for Ice for Ireland and also have a look and like the Ice for Ireland Facebook page and keep watching the curling!! Here’s a link curling on the Olympic website.
If there are any more developments we will keep you posted. Please do not hesitate to contact us or like us on Facebook.
Teams drawn for Bonspiel weekend in Stranraer
As we return to Stranraer – not long after the 4N – the draw for the first game always has everyone on tenterhooks. The Secretary and the President conducted the the draw at other ends of the telephonic communicating device and to ensure absolute fairness, two adjudicators – Ellie and Fergus – were in attendance. (Labrador and Flat-coated Retriever respectively).
So here it is:
Saturday 9.00 am
PJ Wilson vs Kate Adams
Ian Donald vs John Gilmore
Tommy Campbell vs JJ Kenny
David Whyte vs Michael Sutherland
John Brown vs John PJ Wilson
Drew Paton vs John Graham
Jim Cannon vs Bill Gray
Andy Robinson vs Arran Cameron.
Can we also ask that teams bring one raffle prize for the Grand Draw.
Many thanks and see you there.
Four Nations round up
Another hugely successful 4 Nations drew to a close this afternoon with full report and results to follow. As far as Ireland were concerned, we lost our hold on the Meikle Trophy against Wales and the Turnbull Trophy against England – both narrowly – but retained the Marshall Millennium against Scotland. Thanks to all of the Irish participants and to all of the other Nations representatives who travelled to Stranraer.
Irish Senior Men at Kinross
The Senior Men – Johnjo, Bill, Neil, David W and David H were competing in the Over 40’s competition in Kinross this weekend. Having come through the Schenkel unscathed with three wins from three, they then comfortably won their semi-final before falling at the last hurdle to the Musketeers.
The final started close but was not the most exciting as the ice was very straight. As the game developed the latter ends became more interesting with more stones in play but just a couple of shots which didn’t quite come off was the difference between the teams. The men are pictured with their High Road runner up prize.
ICA continues winning streak in world’s oldest international fixture.
Last week at Greenacres, two rinks representing the ICA overcame their Ardrossan Castle counterparts by an aggregate score of 17-9. Neil Fyfe’s rink triumphed 10-3 while Andrew Gilmore – currently back on shore at college – had a much tighter game squeezing home 7-6. We noted that the ICA talisman – Erin Furey – was to be booked for this year but unfortunately she had to rely on her senior colleagues to seal the deal without her! Fear not- there is a surprise coming in the New Year. Watch this space!!
We are hugely appreciative that Ardrossan Castle continue to contest this fixture – first played as far back as 1861 when the prize was a RCCC medal struck for the Belfast Curling Club. The teams now contest the beautiful wooden trophy fashioned by Ardrossan curler Donnie Sheddon for the fixture.
We look forward to continuing this historic association next year.
Day 7 update from the Big Cheese
Day 7 Update from Ross Barr
The final session of the round robin stage saw Team Ireland come head to head with Team Spain. Both teams were on four wins and sitting joint third. Knowing that the winner of this match would qualify for the knock out stages provided an extra degree of interest. Spain secured a two shot advantage in the second end after blanking the first. Chasing the game from that point Team Ireland set up a number of promising ends but they were continually thwarted by the accuracy of the Spanish play.
A disappointing end to what was generally a successful and very enjoyable tournament for Alan, Jacqui, Ross, Clare and coach Alison. Team Ireland offer thanks to all those who have provided encouragement and support throughout the competition.
Day 6 in Champery
Alan ‘Skippy’ Mitchell on the blog:
Met with another beautiful day in the Swiss Alps we had the full day to prepare for our 6th game and enjoy the superb weather with temperatures exceeding the nicest of Belfast summer days.
Our opponents today were the young South Korean team who had 5 wins to their name – looking resplendent in their bright yellow team uniforms they exuded confidence from the moment they stepped on the ice. It was soon obvious they had trained to a very high standard and were positioning stones to the nearest mm.
Some great 1st end play by Ireland was sadly the highlight of the game and the incessant pressure applied by the Koreans took its toll. We can take comfort that without doubt these young players will be stars of the future.
Our team walk back from the rink witnessed another glorious sunset which lifted team spirits and soon brought our trip back into perspective.