World Mixed – Game 2

Well….where to start? Team Ireland started solidly enough in this tussle with England with much more than bragging rights potentially at stake. A clean first end with the hammer after Jacqui and Ross had thrown good LSD’s ended with a single as Bill’s attempted blank didn’t quite roll out. image

We were struggling a bit with the weight as the game went through the next few ends until the 4th where after multiple missed shots, Bill faced 4 with his last and managed to draw round and although a little heavy came to rest art frozen taking three shots out of play. The English skip tried to clear for three but jammed our stone and we escaped with a loss of 2. Unfortunately the weight malaise continued and we struggled to impose ourselves at all and despite going to the last 5-5 we never really looked to be in a position to steal until late in the end but couldn’t make them play their last. A disappointing result but actually both teams agreed afterwards that neither had played that well.

Onwards and upwards for the greens. Brazil next at 4pm so it will be colourful!!

Senior Men’s Playdown moved

Due to a plant failure and the cancellation of the ice in Dumfries, the Senior men’s playdown has been switched to Stranraer.
I know this may disappoint the legions of supporters heading to Dumfries but we had no option but to try and play the games this weekend and Stranraer was the only place we could get ice.
Game times as follows:
Today (Friday): 6 pm and 9 pm
Tomorrow: sat 1 pm and 7.30 pm
Sunday 8 am if required.

Great performances at Greenacres

gray-esiccHot off the Press from Greenacres. Team Gray (Robin Gray) with skip Peter Wilson,PJ Wilson, Ross Barr (for injured Robin) and Tony Tierney won the Greenacres European Senior Invitation  today against Anders Westerberg’s World Senior QF rink in an extra end final.Team Gray beat Team Kenny, who topped their section, in the QF on their way to the title.

okane-essicTeam Marie O’Kane with Louise Kerr, Christina Graham and Margarita Sweeney Baird also made the Womens’ final against Christine Cannon’s rink and ended up runners up. Great performances from all of the Irish rinks. Well done!!

Thanks for the support!

Three Shades of Gray

The Three Shades of Gray

Just a quick postscript to the Blenheim Palace Triathlon that I participated in this summer.
A huge thank you to everyone who supported us both by message and donation. The Three Shades of Gray, (my sister Kathy, brother Ian and I) managed to raise over £10,000 in aid of Lymphoma and Leukaemia Reasearch due to the unbelievable generosity of those who donated.cp20x30-BPTF4362
The day was cold and wet which didn’t make for a particularly pleasant experience but the scale of the event was staggering and it was great to be part of it in a stunning location. We managed to finish 194th out of 259 in our race which was pretty good for three novices. I took great heart from the fact that the majority of the cyclists who overtook me (and there were many) were all about half my age!! We have already wondered if we could improve on that next year………….A bit more training required methinks. Watch this space. Now for some sedate games of curling over the winter.

Isobel Fyfe

Isobel Fyffes 80th BirthdayIt is with great regret that we report that one of our longest standing members, Isobel Fyfe, passed away on 28th June 2015.
Isobel held the ICA close to her heart and was an extremely active member, fulfilling the role of membership secretary for a number of years and representing Ireland on a number of occasions. Many will remember her for her constant good humour and her tireless work whenever Ireland were hosting the 4 Nations competition.
We will all miss her but none more so of course than her immediate and wider family. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to Alastair, Neil and Anne and their families.

Isobel will be hugely missed by all that had the good fortune to have known her.
A Memorial Service will be held at St Leonards-in-the-Fields Church, Perth PH2 8AG on Saturday 4th July 2015 at 10.30am.

That was the week that was!!!

As we approach the part of the competition ( ie the post game celebrations) where ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’ especially for Neil, an update blog from the Finals which are in progress.

What a day, yesterday!! The task facing us was pretty daunting to be honest but we were up for it. You might have been forgiven for thinking that we didn’t want to progress the way the skipper started the tiebreaker against the Czechs , missing a couple of easy takeouts . There was no panic in the camp tho as we felt that we were playing well and it was only a matter of time before we gained the upper hand which we did. It would have been great to have finished the game early but the Czechs stuck in and took us to the eighth. The final 7-6 score line flattered them somewhat as we were 7-4 up with the hammer and the skipper just had to remove one of their stones to complete the game.

The Iceberg Skating Palace

The Iceberg Skating Palace

We only had a very short break of around an hour and a half before our QF qualification game against the Australians, just enough time for yet another walk round the Olympic Plaza and for Neil to take some more photographs of the Iceberg building to go along with the two hundred or so that he had already amassed!! Then it was back to the curling hall for the next instalment of the incredible journey!!

The game against Australia was a pretty tight affair. We started well forcing a one in the first and then we coughed up a steal of two in the second to continue our run of poor starts overall. We collected a two in the third which could have been a three but Bill’s attempted hit and stick just rolled out a bit. We then finished the half well by stealing a single to go in to the break all square. We felt at that point that we were outplaying them so were happy at that point. We forced a single in the 5th and scored one while trying to blank the 6th. In the 7th were were lying really well to force the single again but Bill’s last stone attempted hit picked halfway up and found what looked like too narrow a gap between two stones to leave Hugh Milliken with a simple draw for two. The momentous last end was not really going our way at all for a long while but although the Aussies were lying one with one of our stones counting 2nd shot, Bill elected to freeze in the back corner eight foot to try and make something happen and did it ever happen!!! The opposing skips attempted hit was some way wide of the mark and only succeeded in rolling across the house in to the open and left us lying two with a hit for a three. A well swept hit followed and the win was secure. An absolutely fantastic result for the Fab Four to acclaim from the watching crowd. This was a performance which ultimately proved to be our ‘Final’. The emotion and adrenaline buzz from winning that game was not far short of some of the experiences of Tårnby.

A further short break made even shorter by the now legendary speed (or lack of it) of Russian table service and the boys wee back on the ice for the quarter final against USA. Right from the off it became apparent that the previous two games had begun to take their toll, particularly for David Hume who was struggling with tiredness and we eventually persuaded him to retire after the 5th end. By that time it was clear that we were up against a very focused, capable and fresh USA outfit. We played manfully through the pain and tiredness barriers and had a glimmer of a chance in the 6th end where we were lying really well and had a hit  through a narrow port to lie 3 and guarded.This time it was the skip’s turn to succumb to the rigours of the day, struggling to get the up weight hit away and caught the guard allowing the USA to draw for two. That was probably the final nail In the coffin as the USA went 6-2 up. We tried to construct a multiple score in the 7th but the USA skip played a great last stone draw to force Bill to draw the shot for a single 6-3. We played a great last end and had the opportunity to lie three and make the US skip play his last but Bill’s attempted side tap on a winger was just fractionally heavy and the game was were the boys!! We were totally shattered after that marathon and quite frankly it’s too much to expect Seniors to curl three games in a day at this level. I cannot understate the drive and determination that we showed all through the week and especially yesterday when our bodies were screaming at us to stop – well mine was anyway!! We never gave up even when things weren’t going our way and the teams we played against will be well aware of the fighting spirit of the Irish even when we were down to three men standing; as will anyone who saw us in action. We have had a fantastic week tinged with regret that the Big Man wasn’t with us physically-but he was definitely here in spirit. We have done ourselves proud and for me personally to stand in at the late stage for JJ was a huge step but I couldn’t have managed without the help and support of the Terrible Threequarters of the Fab Four. Thanks guys it was a privilege.

Fab Four on Tour

Fab Four on Tour

Tough day but still in it!!

A shortened entry due to late evening team meeting.

Hard game today against Scotland who played their best according to skip Gordon Muirhead after the game. We had some chances- particularly in the first end when a possible three was on but unfortunately Bills stone just caught the guard leaving us lying 1. The second end started well enough with plenty of Irish stones in play but a wayward nose hit attempt left the Scots lying four. Bill played a great freeze attempt which ran a few inches too far and The Scottish skip played a great tap back to claim the four. We fought back well but ultimately we didn’t play as many good shots as our opponents who ran us out of stones in the eighth end to win 7-4.

So where does that leave it all?? As the previous post states, we play Czech Republic tomorrow at 0900 in the Pool A tiebreaker. The winner of that game will play Australia in the QF qualification game at 1400. The third 3rd place team, Sweden has the best Draw Shot Challenge record of a 30.4 average and goes straight to the QF ( we had the 2nd best at 32.7!!). The winner of the qualification game will then play a QF against Canada, USA Denmark or New Zealand depending on how the draw is manufactured to avoid teams from the same pool meeting each other.

Clear? It will get clearer as it unfolds. Anyway we have reached the playoff stages which was an early goal so  it on!!

Local Sochi bus service....we're in there somewhere!!! Lol

Local Sochi bus service….we’re in there somewhere!!! Lol

More tomorrow when I have some time. Still recovering from a bus journey back from Sochi centre which was so overcrowded it resembled the 5.30  from Mumbai to Jaipur as depicted in Michael Palin’s round the world adventure. There were only 24 seats in the bus and I reckon there were at least 60-70 on it at one point!

Three years ago to the day…………..

It was David W that twigged the significance of the day yesterday when he announced that he had a spooky feeling – no, not encountering the kittymeister sleepwalking during the night but the fact that we would be playing Canada again 3 yrs to the exact time in 2012 when we took them on in Taarnby. We didn’t start our prematch routine too well as we put a bit of a dent in our draw shot challenge average which up to that point had been the best in the competition. The game started pretty steadily with Canada scoring a regulation 2 in the first and restricting us to a single when Bill had to nose hit the Canadian counter. The third end was a series of draws to the back corners and when the Canadian skip came to play there were a few Irish stones in play but only counting one. He tried a delicate tap back but only succeeded in locking our counter onto one of his own and spin off to leave us stealing 2.  The drama proper began to unfold in the 4th end. Firstly, the Canadian third stepped back and caught the skipper in the Crown Jewels with his brush!!

Bill's personal interpreter, Dascia.

Bill’s personal interpreter, Dasha

This was followed by an attempted double to lie 2 by Neil which nearly came off but in the process of trying to sweep the hit stone out, Bill injured himself and had to be assisted from the ice where he was stuck on all fours! A quick assessment of the damage centred around his back and hamstring (he didn’t know he had one up to that point) but that sliding was ok. The eventful end finished with the boys forcing a 1 to tie the scores at 3-3 and the skip retired to the doctors room for further treatment, with the help of Dasha, his now personal interpreter!!

The second half of the game was a pretty much cat and mouse affair with some pretty good curling by both teams with neither one being allowed to impose themselves on the other. The 5th had a fair few stones in play and lying one, Bill tried to draw another up to tap out the Canadian second stone. He nearly got it wrong, narrowly avoiding pushing the Canadians in for shot. The 6th saw Canada score one again and the game then possibly turned in their favour in the 7th when Bills first corner freeze over curled leaving a Canadian stone lying shot and when they drew a second to the house, Bills attempted nose hit didn’t stick and we gave up a 1. We were fast approaching déjà vue territory – all over again! One down with the hammer trying hard to get a 2……. Almost came off but the Canadian skip played a pressure hit and roll to take out Bills first stone leaving him a nose hit to force the extra end which he duly completed. Now we really were in spooky territory!! Extra end against Canada without the hammer – and without Johnjo!! There was further drama to come as the game was halted after two stones as blood was discovered on the ice. Turned out that the opposition lead had developed a nosebleed – and we didn’t touch him, Your Honour; honestly!! The offending matter had to be removed, a little pebbling followed by running a couple of stones over the area…….all really conducive to calming the nerves!! NOT! In the end, we had a chance to get a hit and roll behind a guard to force their skip to draw ( which would have been spookier still) but couldn’t get the roll which left them a nose hit for the game 6-5. Sorry this has been a bit long but it was quite a game. After a beer or two with the Canucks, we then tried to gate crash a private Oligarch party in the restaurant we went to! Having been blown out of that one, the next one we tried was shut for ‘technical reasons’ – probably away spending their ill gotten gains from the bill mix up of two nights previously!! Third time lucky saw us in a Russian restaurant on campus which was very good thankfully. An eventful day but enjoyable nonetheless – more so that the Czechs had beaten Japan which will do our cause no harm at all. More tomorrow as the round robin finishes with games against Italy tonight and Scotland tomorrow. In the meantime, it’s caption competition time from our trip up the mountains today. Answers on a postcard!!

Captions on a postcard please.....

Captions on a postcard please…..

The Highs, Lows and Highs again

Its a topsy turvey world that we inhabit as curlers when in the morning you feel elated to have put a difficult team away and then at night you feel totally deflated after losing a really important game only to be lifted again less than 24 hrs later with an excellent performance to record another win. So it was yesterday and today. After my report on the Latvian game we came out somewhat flat for the evening game against Japan and allowed ourselves to be drawn ( literally ) into playing the game their way and we were unable to impose ourselves on it at all until the break. We fought really hard to steal 4 ends in a row but only singles and in the last end we again had a chance to get our last stone behind a cover stone only to see it rub the guard fractionally and stay in the open. A nose hit from the Japanese skip sealed the win for them. In truth we didn’t pay that badly but every rub seemed to go against us – it was one of those games. We decided a chill out beer was required – well catching up on FB and messages from home really; the beer was someone else’s!image

A new day dawned this morning – chucking it down again. We had a minor soaking yesterday after lunch while leaving the Italian restaurant on campus. We were being chased by the waiter at the time who claimed we had short changed the payment of the bill!! Sir Hume is the kittymeister so inevitably got the blame although we are not entirely sure that he wasn’t ‘at it’ to quote T Tierney. On that note the food and facilities are good on the whole and thankfully also reasonably priced thanks to the weak Rouble. Breakfast is a refectory style buffet – reminiscent of boarding school mealtimes ( for Bill anyway).

We managed to take in some of the Mixed Doubles today before our 4pm game against the Czechs. The ice for the MD is undoubtedly superior to ours as it has a more normal swing but our arena has a much better atmosphere.

The Iceberg skating Palace in Curling Mode

The Iceberg skating Palace in Curling Mode

David W has commented a few times what a buzz it is to curl in an Arena such as the Skating Palace and I’m sure David H feels the same. Bill and Neil have been fortunate to experience it before but both agree that they are a bit disappointed with the way the ice is playing – although it’s definitely improving and it may be that the stones are causing the slow surface and excessive swing.

The facilities, the welcome and the work of the organising committee has been excellent as has been the shuttle transport. The security checks are normal for Russia but we caused a bit of a stir trying to bring our Jameson miniatures in to gift to our opponents. Nyet to alcohol was the comment. Suffice to say we have resolved the problem……..initiative is our middle name.

Back to the curling briefly; we played really well against the Czech team today – managing to do everything we had failed to do yesterday evening. We called the game well and executed our shots well and ran out comfortable winners 11-3. We are now set up to take on Canada tomorrow. There were some really close games in tonight’s session which  saw Canada narrowly defeat Japan and Latvia play a great inwick to score 2 in their final end against Scotland to record a 1 shot victory. This tightens up the group which makes our remaining three games crucial to our qualification ambitions. One at a time, tho and we are ready for Canada tomorrow. Even more so now that David W has carb loaded following a Carbonara Pizza!!

Yep It's a Carbonara Pizza

Yep It’s a Carbonara Pizza

Yep, seriously folks!! Here it is!!

finally huge thanks to all who have sent messages of support to the team. We really appreciate them.

A win is a win!!

Bill Gray (Fourth, Skip) Neil Fyfe (Third, Vice-Skip) David Whyte (Second) David Hume (Lead)

Bill Gray (Fourth, Skip)
Neil Fyfe (Third, Vice-Skip)
David Whyte (Second)
David Hume (Lead)

Day 2 dawned with the knowledge that today’s games would be pivotal in our campaign and we needed to be at out best to come through the day with two wins. A 1200 start time and first practice for the game against Latvia was the order of the day with Bill and Neil rostered in for the two stone DSC. First use of the ice is always tricky and when the skippers draw shot pulled up ( just) at the back of the house, it needed Neil to salvage the situation with his draw – and he duly obliged. The Latvians however had the hammer after their DSC.
The game proved to be a nervy affair with both teams feeling a bit of pressure. We played the first half of the game well limiting the Latvians to a single in the second and picking up a three in the 4th with Bill playing a great angled raise at hack weight round a guard which proved to be the game changer. The second half was nervy with some mistakes – mostly due to the ice keening up dramatically- from both sides although David H and Neil adjusted more quickly than Bill and David W and held the show on the road. We came to the last 1 up with the hammer. The front end and Neil did a great job clearing the guards and when Bill played a good clearing shot on two stones in the house, a failed freeze by the Latvian skip who was heavy left us with a win without having to play last stone. Phew!! All in all, a tough game for various reasons but we were delighted to come out with a win, even if it wasn’t pretty. Japan next up this evening – another big one; but then again, at this level, they all are!!