Mixed team ready to take on the world in Canada

The Irish Mixed team are either at, or nearly at, their base camp in Kelowna, British Columbia, ahead of the World Mixed Curling Championship starting on Saturday.

James, Ailsa, Arran and Katie with coach Steve in front.

The team of James Russell, Ailsa Anderson, Arran Cameron, Katie Kerr and coach Steve Callan will start on Saturday evening with a game against Australia. They then face Switzerland, Brazil, The Netherlands, Russia, USA, Finland and Denmark.

Skip James Russell said: ” Hello members and fans. Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support, with special thanks going to those of you who have helped us out with our preparations for the World Mixed in Kelowna. Myself, Ailsa, Arran, and Coach Callan have been working hard over the start of the season both on our curling and team building at the new curling academy in Stirling, Greenacres, and Kinross. While super lead Katie Kerr has been travelling across the United States on her free weekends to practice tick shots. Glamorous locations include Baltimore, Phoenix, and Ice Station Valencia. 
“Arran and Steve were sent out earlier than everyone else in order to scout out the local gym scene so the team can relax between games and I have it on good authority that that is exactly what they have been doing. The ‘Vice on the Ice’, Ailsa Anderson, arrived in Canada on Wednesday  and rumour has it that she has been sitting in an ice bath since in order to be acclimatised to any conditions during the competition. I am currently sitting in Calgary Airport awaiting my connection to Kelowna, wondering if I will be able to convince the rest of the team that pizza is the ideal food for competition. Katie Kerr for once has the shortest distance to travel to get to the championships and is celebrating this by arriving last. 
“For all of us it will be our first world championships and we could not be more proud to do it representing Ireland. Shoulder to shoulder we will stand and hopefully we will make you all proud.
“Finally, as many of you know we are the first Irish team competing since the passing of our friend and founding member Tony Tierney. We would like to dedicate our time at the worlds to Tony as our way of thanking him for all he has done for the ICA. We would also like to give our deepest condolences to Charlotte and Tony’s family. May he rest in peace.”

Opening bonspiel at Greenacres

Frances Donald, John Graham, President David (presenting), Carolyn Hibberd and John Reidy

Welcome to the new season and congratulation to John Graham’s team who took the prizes at the ICA Opening Bonspiel at Greenacres Ice Rink.

A total of six rinks took part and before the players took to the ice a minutes silence was held in in memory of Tony Tierney.

We also welcomed two new members, Eleanor Burns (the new Mrs John Burns) and  John Reidy.


Neil Fyfe beat Marie O’Kane 8-2
Bill Gray beat James Russell 10-2
John Graham beat David Whyte 12-2 ( no respect for the Pres!)
President David Whyte said: “Remember to get your names down for  the Fyfe Trophy on 20 October and the next Bonspiel on 11 November and finally, we all wish James and team well in the Mixed at Kelowna in Canada.”

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.

Seniors settle in

After a late-night arrival in Ostersund yesterday, the Irish men’s and women’s teams and the mixed doubles duo had time today to get their bearings here in the geographic centre of Sweden.

The ladies at the Ostersund arena

At the reception this evening

All three teams completed their practice sessions and attended the opening drinks reception in the Clarion Hotel.

We have got our ‘access all areas’ accreditation so the next challenge is getting the right bus to the arena for the right practice slot with the right coloured stones!

The supporters club arrived tonight in the shape of Jen’s mum and dad and Eoin’s dad.

The competition to be world champions begins tomorrow morning and we’re all thrilled to be here curling for Ireland.

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.