Fyfes on tour – part 3

The latest from Neil:

Game 4 – “This game was against the Slovakian pair of Daniela Matuliva and Ladislav Derzsi. Unfortunately, yet again, we did not play nearly as well as we can, and the Slovaks were all over us. Three key shots of the game spring to mind; the last stone of the fifth end when we looked as though we had a good chance of stealing a one or two, Derzsi played a lovely angled-raise on one of his corner guards and pumped it right into the four foot to take a one; My last shot (playing the middle three stones) of the seventh end was a guard and we were lying shot with a counter in the four foot and were hoping to steal as there were loads of short stones. Unfortunately the guard was quite a bit short and although it covered the outer two-thirds of the Slovakian stone,that stone could be raised in for shot. We failed to realised that and we should have swept it another couple of feet to get another two or three inches of draw to cover more of the inside of the Slovakian short stone and finally,  the shot after the last one I described,. The Slovaks played a lovely weighted raise, coming right round our guard and raising one of their stones onto our shot stone which disappeared out the back of the house. We couldn’t get into the house wit hour last and the Slovaks drew another in to take a four and leave the score at 9-4 to them. Game over.”

Game 5 – “A win at last! In this game we played the French-speaking brother and sister Swiss duo Fabrice and Celine Apotheloz. We played a lot better in this game and put the Swiss duo under pressure by taking a four in the fifth end to take a 7-4 lead. The Swiss team elected to take their power play in the sixth and closed the gap a bit by taking a two. We elected to take our power play in the seventh end- and played a near perfect end to take a three. The Swiss conceded and Ireland won 10-5!”

Judith Chalmers bit – “On the Sunday after watching some of the knock-out stages we had a wander round Aarau – which is quite a pretty wee Swiss town. We then decided totravel into Basel so that we could explore there a bit too. I was looking forward to reminicing about my first international experience curling for Ireland – the European mens championship ‘A’ league in December 2016. Unfortunately, it poured with rain and being a Sunday in February, nothing was open! We were a bit disappointed about that.”

Curling again – “Not the best tournament for Team Fyfe – but all good experience before the forthcoming World Championships in Lethbridge. Next up is the CCT Dumfries International towards the end of March.”

Fyfes continue their Swiss tour

Neil reports:

Game 2 – “Our second game on Friday was against the 2016 Swiss national champions. Boy, they were REALLY good!
They played almost perfectly and although we managed to score in every end where we had last stone we were 6-4 down after six ends. At this point the Swiss pair elected to take their power play which they played perfectly – taking a 4 thanks to a couple of loose shots from us. Game over.”

Game 3 – “An early start for us on Saturday morning with a game at 0800hrs (0700hrs UK time) against the Russian pair of Sergey Glukhov and Anastasia Moskaleva.
Again we failed to play to our full potential and although the score was 4-4 after 5 ends we could easily have been ahead by 2 or 3 shots had we managed to play the latter half of a couple of ends a bit better. The Russians took control of the game in the 6th end by taking a 4 in their power play and we failed to respond to this in the 7th by only managing to take a 1.
In the last end the Russians ran us out of stones and the final score was Russia 8 Ireland 5.”

Fantastic Fyfes on tour

Irish mixed doubles champions, Neil and Alison Fyfe, are currently in Switzerland, playing for the 3rd International Mixed Doubles Trophy in Aarau.

Alison, Anette, Neil and Vincent

Once again they were drawn to play double Olympic champion and multiple world and European champion skip, Anette Norberg from Sweden, and her MD partner,  Vincent Stenberg. They put up a blinding display of MD curling against probably the best female curler of her generation.

Neil reports: “Our first game was against Annette Norberg and Vincent Stenberg (a re run of the first Netherlands 🇳🇱 game. The Swedish duo started off well taking a single shot in ends 1 and 2, however Team Fyfe equaled the score after 4 ends by taking a single in the third end then stealing a single in the 4th. 

“In the fifth end we managed to restrict the Swedish team to a single shot and then decided not to take our power play in the sixth (probably due to not having been particularly successful when playing the power play recently!  Help required please Coach McCrossan!!!). Some really good shots were played in the sixth, however when Alison came to play her last it was impossible to move the Swedish counter which was welded on the button against a couple of other shots and a 1 was conceded. 
“Team Fyfe elected to take their power play in the penultimate end and played a blinder. Although the Swedish duo when under pressure played a great double takeout with their last stone to lie first and third shot, Alison countered this with her last stone by removing both Swedish stones leaving Ireland lying 3 shots. One shot going into the last without. 
“Team Ireland did their best to get the steal in the last end when Alison drew round a short Swedish stone into the four foot to lie in shot position with her last, although it was only partly hidden. Annette Norberg, like a true Olympic champion however played a good shot with her last and the Irish stone was successfully cleared leaving the Swedish team lying 2 shots.  Ireland 5 Sweden 6.” 

ICA ladies’ NYC training camp

Katie and Ailsa

While Irish Ladies C League team members Jen Ward and Jacqui Barr were training in Scotland recently, skip Ailsa Anderson and vice-skip Katie Kerr managed to get in some training in New York.

Katie in action

Ailsa never travels far without her curling shoes and fortunately Katie’s Brooklyn based opposition were in need of a sub.

Although it was her first time playing arena ice outdoors, Ailsa reported that the ice was “interesting to say the least!”.

The NYC club members and Ailsa

But a great game was had and big thanks to Curl NYC for allowing Ailsa to join in.

Team spirit shines through

It was team spirit that won the ICA players their second consecutive triple crown in the Four Nations at Greenaces. Every player that stepped on the ice to curl for Ireland made a contribution to the final WIN-WIN-WIN posted up on the screens around the ice rink. Some games were close, some games were not so close, both for and against the Irish, but everyone hung in there and made every effort to get as many shots counting as they could.

The Saturday games saw Ireland men and woman lose to Scotland in two very close games.Then two mixed teams got the better of Wales in the second session. The third session saw two more mixed teams face the English. One narrow win and one defeat left us seven shots adrift in that contest and four behind Scotland, but 14 up on Wales at the end of play.

After the Saturday night dinner and dancing….and some alcoholic refreshments for a few of us……… it was the ungodly hour of 9 o’ clock on Sunday morning when we returned to  battle.

It was the mixed teams that surged Ireland ahead of Scotland for the Marshall Millennium Trophy with two wins taking us ten shots clear at 31-21.

Then the men and women faced the Welsh through in the ice box on E and F. The men struggled but fought hard to the last stone while the ladies had a big win to make sure that Ireland retained the Meikle Trophy 40-21.

As is often the case, the tussle with England for the Turnbull Trophy was epic. Ireland were seven shots behind when David Whyte and his team of lead Nathan Furey, second Eoin McCrossan and third Arran Cameron faced John Brown’s England in the men’s game on C while Alison Fyfe skipped Clare McCormick, Jen Ward and Louise Kerr against Judith Dixon’s English ladies team on D. The men got a good start with a five but the women got a **** start, losing a three. However, the ladies ground it out end after end, with Alison saving the day at the sixth end with a magnificent tap up round a guard to save Ireland losing a shed-load of shots. With the men creeping up the scoreboard, Ireland were getting close to the magic total of eight shots up over both games.

The last end was pure drama. Peels with last stone, the women played a beezer of an end, Jen made a cracker to peel two guards with one stone, and the main aim to keep the front clear for our super-skip was achieved, with the added bonus of Irish stones peppering the house. With her last stone, English skip Judith made an under pressure draw  to lie shot in the back four foot.

Alison then elected to play a hack weight tap back on the English shot. She glided out of the hack and as her stone made it’s way down towards the bar end we knew it needed to swing…..it was hanging out…..then, at last, it stared to draw, but would it finish in time? It sailed into the house and clipped the edge of another Irish stone, rolling gently off it, ending up just touching the button as first shot,  giving the Irish girlies a hard-fought 6-5 win.

The measure to decide the winner on the Turnbull Trophy.

All heads then swung round to sheet C…… the men’s game next door….. where a  measure had been called for to see who was first shot in their last end. Time seemed to stand still as the measure spun slowly round……..phew, it was Ireland’s. Relief and joy for Ireland but agony for England. Our men had won 10-3,  seven up,  snatching the Turnbull Trophy back out of England’s grasp at the death by one shot –  27 to 26..

What a blast the Four Nations is. Roll on January 2018 when Ireland will host it at Stranraer Ice Rink from the 19th to the 21st.  This will be a first for Stranraer and, according to John Brown, who knows these things, the first time a Four Nations has been held at a four-sheeter rink.

On a personal note as the current ICA President,  I am immensely proud of what our small band of curlers achieved at the weekend. You are all stars! But, no resting on laurels teammates…..the triple triple is our next target. Go away and prepare yourselves for 4N2018.

Triple Crown for Ireland!

Team Ireland with the Meikle, the Turnbull and the Marshall Milennium trophies

The ICA squad had a fantastic weekend at Greenacres at

the Four Nations, winning all three trophies against England, Scotland and Wales, for the second year running.

Well done to all our curlers. More news and results to follow shortly.

Haggis heroines

Haggis winner 2017 – Ailsa Anderson, Alison Fyfe, Jen Ward and Charlotte Tierney

A fantastic performance from an ICA ladies team at the weekend  saw them win the prestigious Haggis at Greenacres.

Team member Ailsa Anderson reports: ” The Irish ladies once again took part in the Haggis bonspiel at Greenacres and hoped to improve upon their low road success in 2016. A team of Jacqui Barr, Jen Ward, Alison Fyfe and Ailsa Anderson played their first game against local team, Drew Gemmell. The ice was particularly tricky with both teams struggling at the beginning of the game to get used to the conditions. However, following a slow start the ladies managed to secure a win (7-4). In a repeat of 2016, the ladies played the Irish mens team in the second game. As always, a “friendly” rivalry was had and ultimately the “friendly” result was a peel (7-7). Both teams were then subject to the torment of stats from Coach, Martin Sutherland, before dinner could be served.

“The following morning feeling refreshed the ladies took on Jack Steven, whose team included Alison and Ross Barr. Despite Team Steven slowly edging in front, the ladies were able to secure a few stolen ends and the score was close going into the last. The ladies were well placed for the steal however a hit from the opposing skip’s last stone meant the ladies could only steal one and another peeled game.

“The accumulation of ends meant the ladies narrowly qualified for the High Road coming second in their section. Next they played Team John Summers in the High Road semi-final. The ladies (assisted by Coach) dominated the game and won the game 11-2 after 6 ends.

“So, the High Road final awaited. Fortunately, the ladies were joined by super sub, Charlotte Tierney, who had patiently waited all weekend for a game. The Ladies were faced against Garry Coombs and his Welsh counterparts who had beaten Team Steven (whom the girls had played earlier) in the other High Road semi. After a relatively slow start, the ladies were 4-0 down going into the 3rd. However, a score of 3 and a steal of 1 levelled the score. The ladies stepped up their game and eventually ran the Welsh men out of stones in the 8th end, securing the win 8-5.

“A great weekend’s work and a major confidence boost for the ladies ahead of the European C-Division in May. Thank you must go to all the ICA members who came out to support the ladies during the course of the weekend.”

Irish MD duo tackle double Olympic champion

Neil and Alison Fyfe were playing in the  Dutch Masters CCT Mixed Doubles competition in Zoetermeer last weekend.

Neil reports: “In our first game we were drawn against the Swedish pairing of double Olympic champion and multiple times world champion Annette Norberg and her partner Vincent Stenberg. They had the advantage of having already played a game earlier in the day. We played badly and were well beaten 10-2. The ice was quite tricky – but lightening fast after being slow for the first few shots. We both struggled to find draw weight throughout the game – which was not good. There was no practice before the game – apart from one practice draw for Alison who was nominated to do the LSD for that game.

“In our second game we played Judith and Lee McCleary from Scotland (what a lovely couple they are). They have played here a couple of times before and got the hang of the ice before we did and sailed into a 7-0 lead after the second end. We played a bit better after that taking a 2 in the third and after restricting our opponents to a 1 in 4th then took a 1 in the 5th – but conceded after the sixth when the McCleary team took another two. They are a very strong pair and barely missed a shot between them.

“On Saturday morning Team Fyfe played against a local team of Jaap van Dorp (who skips the Dutch men’s team) who was playing with his Hungarian partner Vera Kalocsai.
Although team Fyfe yet again failed to gain last stone advantage, they managed to restrict their opponents to a 1 in the first end but lost another single shot in the second before scoring a three in the third. Team Fyfe managed to find better form this game – and the game was very close the score was 6-6 going into the last end with the Irish team having last stone advantage. Alison and Neil played a near perfect end and Alison made a good draw with her last to secure Ireland’s first win!

” In the last game of the round robin stage Team Fyfe played the Polish team of Adela Walczak and Kasper Knebloch. The Irish pair started off well taking a three in the first end. The Polish pair played well and after 6 ends had reduced the deficit to two shots. Neil and Alison elected to play their power play in the seventh – however this went disastrously wrong with poor shots from both players and the Polish pair took a three. In the final end Alison had the choice of playing a difficult draw to the 4 foot to draw the game – or playing an equally difficult skinny double to take a two and win the game. The latter option was selected and successfully played. A second (but messy) win for Team Fyfe!

“The Scottish team topped the table with four wins and the Irish, Swedish and Dutch teams were in joint second place with two wins and two defeats. Due to having the worst draw shot challenge Team Ireland unfortunately were eliminated because of this.
“It was a hard way to be knocked out due to not having any practice before the games (apart from one shot prior to the DSC).

“The Dutch organisers and volunteers did an excellent job and the competition was very enjoyable.”

On Sunday Alison and Neil took a trip into Amsterdam to do some sightseeing before returning to watch the final in the afternoon.

Alison in Amsterdam

Prizes for Pete’s Posse at Kinross

Both the men’s and women’s senior squads got a run out at the  Kinross Over 40s prior to heading Canada for the World Senior Championships in April.

Peter, Johnjo, David W and David H

Peter Wilson, who skipped Ireland to world senior bronze last year, has formed a new team this season with the bulk of the gold medal senior winners from 2012 – Johnjo Kenny, Bill Gray, David Whyte and David Hume – in it. Unfortunately Bill injured his leg and couldn’t play last weekend so David Hume played at lead. The team finished as the ‘middle road’ winners with just one loss in five games, and that was due to an unfortunate pick-up with Peter’s last stone of the game drawing for the win against the eventual winners.

The ladies played four games, winning two and losing two, and were pleased with their performance overall.

Peter, Clare, Marie, David W, Louise, David H and Carloyn. Johnjo was on the dancefloor…

It was a brilliant weekend socially and thanks go to the organising committee, including our very own Johnjo, for working so hard to make sure everything was spot on for the competitors to curl hard on the ice and party hard off it.