World Mixed -Game 4 Ireland 2; Hungary 9

Kazan Ice Arena

Kazan Ice Arena

Team Ireland took to the ice at 8pm last night for their only game of the day against the Hungarians who on paper at least looked a pretty strong team – and so it proved. Having given up the hammer from the LSD, we then compounded this by once again struggling with the weight on probably the fastest sheet we have played on so far (and the fastest I have ever experienced). Consequently we gave up a 4 and were on the back foot for the remainder of the game.

Skip feeling a little vertically challenged!!

Skip feeling a little vertically challenged!!

Hungary rarely missed a shot but we hung in after losing a further 2 in the 2nd and played some better shots but it’s fair to say that we were not allowed a look in as the opposition removed any opportunity of multiple scoring in a professional display. I would think they will go a long way in this competition. No excuses really; we can’t let a team such as Hungary get an early big lead as the standard of their play along with many others in this tournament is excellent. We still have a chance to qualify by winning our last two games and relying on some other results going our way so still plenty to go at. A day off today (watching SWE v ENG as I write this) and then up and at Finland tomorrow at 1200 MSK time.

The Kazan 6; the story so far

Sorry folks. At last an update from the tour so far. Apologies from the blogger. Couldn’t get a ribbon for my Russian Orthodox blog machine!!

Skipper on the Russian Orthodox Blog Machine

Skipper on the Russian Orthodox Blog Machine

As a result there is much to report!
Team Ireland arrived safely in Kazan after a remarkably uneventful trip. There was a moment of consternation arriving in Moscow when we were directed behind a screen at passport control to find ourselves in the Diplomatic area. Our status had gone before us, obviously although there was a further small alarm when Margarita seemed to take an age to come through the control.
Check in to the Kazan flight followed almost seamlessly although the check in girl dealing with Ross and the broom bag suddenly bolted from her desk and ran off leaving a bemused Barr family stranded. She did eventually return looking refreshed!

Team Transport. I'm sure Catherine the Great won't miss it

Team Transport. I’m sure Catherine the Great won’t miss it

As usual, the organising committee have excelled themselves with their customary efficiency and bus transport, hotels and security (!) have posed no problems so far.
The opening ceremony was a great affair with dancers and musicians along with the athlete parade. Jacqui – our international debutant – was entrusted with the fleg and led us out.

Proud moment for Jacqui

Proud moment for Jacqui

The arena is impressive and looking spectacular – a great place for a great event and while I gave already reported on the games, in general we are pretty happy with the ice etc. Food in the sport complex is pretty pricey and has to be preordered so we have given that a miss but unfortunately there is nowhere to have a drink of anything with our opponents after the game although we did go to the adjacent shopping mall for a coffee with Team England – we weren’t going to let them off scott-free after handing us our second defeat! We are storing up some celebratory drinks with our playing colleagues on Saturday night.I’m particularly looking forward to catching up with the Brazilians again. Samba time

Thankfully near our hotel there are loads of restaurants and bars (latter for after the competition obviously). Ross is the orderer-in chief with his impressive grasp of Russian – also knows how to ask for the bill, pay for it and say thank you! Top man.

Ross negotiating for team pizza

Ross negotiating for team pizza








We have been joined on this trip by the originally named ‘Paddy the Bear’ courtesy of one of a Jacqui’s work colleagues.

Skipper nervously carries Padraig Bear for the first and possibly only time

Skipper nervously carries Padraig Bear for the first and possibly only time


Unfortunately he has already been banned from the coaches bench (coach and manager had failed to read the Team Document), the broom bag (too much hair falling out) and is now to be found in a rucksack! He has also been renamed Padraig to further enshrine the all-Ireland status of the team.

Padraig renaming ceremony. Paddy no longer

Padraig renaming ceremony. Paddy no longer

As I write we have been on a city tour but to avoid too long a blog entry, more on that later. For now it’s back to curling. We are in a must win situation just now so Hungary tonight.

World Mixed – game 3; Samba time

Team Ireland took on the Vancouver based Brazilians in their third game and right from the outset started to put their opposition under pressure by getting stones in much better places than in either of the first two games. We picked up three in each of the first two ends before Brazil opened their account with a single. A further three after an angled raise tap by the skip to take out the Brazilians shot stone gave us a 9-1 lead at the 4 end break. Somewhat inevitably, concentration wavered a little in the fifth and sixth ends to allow Brazil to score a 2 and steal a single in the sixth. We played a great 7th end and when Bill removed the Brazilian counter with his last to score 4, handshakes were offered. A great sigh of relief to get a win under our belts after the earlier disappointment sees the team in better spirits. Tour of the city this morning before the 8pm game against Hungary.image

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!