Four Nations dinner

Gillian, Johnjo, John, Gerry, Eleanor and James
Arran, James, Jen and Steve

A marvellous evening at the Barton Grange Hotel last night with an excellent dinner and entertainment for the Four Nations competitors.

Clare and Arran

It’s back to the curling this morning with mixed games against Wales at 9am, England at 11.30am and, in the afternoon at 2pm Scotland.

James and Steve

Ireland have a narrow lead in all three trophies going into the final rounds.

Four Nations – Ireland v Scotland

Ireland 9 Scotland 9 – MEN

Ireland 9 Scotland 5 – WOMEN

Alison B, Frances, Jen and Alison F

There was a good win for the Irish women here at the Barton Grange Flower Bowl when Alison Fyfe, Jen Ward, Alison Barr and Frances Donald got the better of Scotland, thanks to a four in the fourth end which put them right back in the game.

A tense last end unfolds

In the men’s game Ireland got off to a tremendous start with a four at the first end and a two at the second, there were three ahead going into the eighth and last end but some gods stone positioning from the Scots saw their skip draw the four foot twice to score a game levelling three.

The trophies are decided by the accumulative score so Ireland have a four shot advantage after the first couple of games.

Four Nations – Ireland v England

Ireland 9 England 7 – MEN

Ireland 7 England 6 – WOMEN

Pleased to report both team won this morning in this morning’s games v England.

Bill Gray led his team, David Whyte, James Russell and Alan Mitchell to a 9-7 win and Marie O’ Kane skipped Margerita Sweeney-Baird, Frances Whyte and Clare McCormick to a 7-6 win.

Four Nations – Ireland v Wales

Ireland 7 Wales 8 – MEN

Ireland 8 Wales 6 – WOMEN

The boys in green
James prepares for his shot

In the opening games of the Four Nations at the Barton Grange Flower Bowl in Preston, the two Irish teams of the interesting ice had mixed fortunes against Wales. The men’s team of Johnjo Kenny, James Russell, Arran Cameron and Steve Callan lost by a shot to the Welsh.

Louise, Gillian, Maria and Marie
Louise and Marie discuss tactics

On the other sheet, the women fared better with Marie O’ Kane, Louise Kerr, Gillian Russell and Maria O’Neill winning by two shots.

A different style of ice decoration with grass and pebbles replacing the traditional white ice sheet can be a little disorientating at first but after a few ends we all began to get out bearings again!

The Irish men and women take on England at 9am in the morning. Good luck to both teams.

Back-to-back Masters titles for PJ and team

PJ Wison, David Whyte and David Hume of the ICA, with Jim Stirling as second player retained their National Masters Curling Championships title at Greenacres Ice Rink this weekend with a 7-6 win in the final against the team skipped by Keith Prentice. Congratulations to them all.

Jim Wilson, David Hume, David Whyte & PJ Wilson

It’s been a memorable week for the ICA with the success of the Olympic Celebration Tour in Dublin. A reflection of that will be posted soon.

Glittertree winners!

Lots of very exciting things happening with Irish players on the ice this weekend, and this incoming week, but, before that, off the ice, the last ever ICA Glittertree was presented to the 2018 winners, David and Frances Whyte.

David and Frances
David and Frances with the much sought after ICA Glittertree

Well done to them, thanks to all who took the time to enter and to our judge Rhona Howie.

WMCC Roundup …

Kelowna Curling Club

Coaches blog on the past few days in Kelowna at World Mixed Curling Championships.

Day 3: Ireland 10-6 Brazil
I am happy to be corrected but this may have been Ireland’s first sporting victory since Liam Brady popped one in the net at Landsdowne Road in 1987 (ed: Ireland vs Brazil friendly football match for those not in the know).

Things did not start well though and we were quickly down 5-0 after 3 ends. Brazil’s skip could draw anything to the button no matter what was in front of her. Ireland were in trouble. Thankfully a 3 in the 4th end stemmed the tide.

Ailsa Anderson, KT Kerr, Arran Cameron, Steve Callan and James Russell

Following a ‘wee chat’ at half time and a change in tactics and after Brazil took their 1 in the 5th end Ireland went into overdrive and scored a 3 in the 6th to tie the game 6-6. Ireland went onto steal a 3 in the 7th end and another steal of 1 in the final end to run out comfortable winners despite the rocky start and record Ireland’s first win of the week. Confidence was much higher going into the 8pm games versus The Netherlands.

Thankfully the Brazil Coach has agreed to swap his jersey with me at the end of the week. He is of similar build and I was struggling to find an athlete with the same curves!!!

James Russell’s 50th cap for Ireland

Day 3: Ireland 12-3 The Netherlands

A resounding victory on James Russell’s 50th cap for Ireland in 6 ends versus a surprisingly under-performing Netherlands team. Ireland set the tone from the first end with a resounding 6 which appears to be the highest end score in the competition. By half time it was 8-2 and Ireland were in control with good accuracy. The Netherlands scored a 1 in the 5th end but Ireland closed out the game in the 6th end with a 4 to win 12-3.

Ailsa and Katie mean business

After a wee drink with a visibly shell shocked Netherlands team it was straight home to bed as undefeated Russia were next at 8am and USA at 4pm. A tough assignment against the world ranked No.2 team that contained some world championship silver medallists.

Day 4: Ireland 3-8 Russia

A slightly flattering score line against an emotionless but highly skilled Russian team. One of our objectives was to make them smile and we got one or two smirks out of them.

IRL vs RUS

Ireland took the lead with a single in end 1. This rattled the Russians a bit who hit back with a 2 in the second. Ireland levelled in the 3rd end but Russia pulled away with a 2 in the 4th end. They thought it was a 3 with one biting the house. The match umpire said it was in but Alisa stuck to her guns and called for a measure. Just out was the result. I blame a ‘dodgy hole’ but we took it and a bit of the so called ‘luck of the Irish’ came our way.

However Russia stole a 2 in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead. Ireland dug in and grinded out a single in the 6th. Russia again took a 2 when they had hammer. In the 8th end Russia quickly ran us out of stones and hands were shaken before the end.

Ireland played really well against very quality opposition with clear designs on winging the competition. The only real difference was they took twos when they had hammer whilst we took singles.

The defeat was softened by the drinks purchased in the bar afterwards by our opponents!!!!

USA beckoned at 4pm.

Arran, Katie and James at the world championships – photo credit WCF

Day4: Ireland 2 – 6 USA

This defeat was a combination of many things. Irish fatigue with 4 games in 28 hours and USA finally getting their A game out following 3 consecutive defeats.
In addition to this a lack of communication in the first half did not help matters.

Viking Irish Support

Ireland trailed by by 3 to 1 at half time but soon became 5-1 after end 5. It could have been a hand shake at end 6 with Ireland lying 3 against before James made a tremendous draw to the 4 foot for a 1. USA took another 1 in end 7 and hands were shaken midway through end 8 once we were run out of stones.

USA were clinical and we just could not match them. The USA coach confided that she watched us versus Switzerland and The Netherlands and warned her team that

“we were an ‘awesome’ team with enough capability to beat them”.

I like to think of it as justified respect for Ireland.

Katie Kerr, Mike Kerr and James Russell

It was a special occasion for our LA team member KT Kerr playing against her country of birth. A good time was had by both teams in the bar afterwards before team Ireland and Austria went on the well organised pub crawl arranged by the local committee. Arran and I made it to the small hours and found all the Irish pubs in Kelowna. There are just 2 by the way!

Day 5

News filtered through that morning that Russia were finally beaten. Who were Ireland’s next opponent but the team that beat them, Finland who themselves had aspirations of doing very well in the competition.

Ailsa, Arran and Katie on the ice – photo credit WCF

Ireland 4-3 Finland (after extra end)

What a game of high intensity, skilled and sh*t in your pants curling.
It was clear from the outset that Finland were quality opposition but Ireland were up for the fight following a chat about improved communication and the importance of good guards from the outset.

Finland had to play a perfect hit and roll across to take their 1 in the first end. A blank end in the 2nd meant Ireland retained the hammer. James Russell played a delicate draw to take 1 in the third to tie the game. A poor end in the 4th saw Finland score a 2 and take a 3-1 lead at half time.

A positive half time discussion meant Ireland’s going back out firmly believing a win was possible.

Ireland reduced the deficit by one in the 5th end which was followed by a blanking the 6th. Following some exceptional guards and draws by Katie, Arran, Alisa and James, Ireland stole a very important point to tie the game going down the last. Whilst not having the hammer Ireland looked confident but a mistake by Finland was needed. This came in the very last stone. James had spotted that the Finnish skip was a tad weaker on his outurn and James placed his final stone out wide on the 12 foot and invite Finland to either go for a hit and stick or a draw to an empty 8 foot. He opted to go for the hit and stick but he slid marginally wide and whilst he cleared the Irish stone his slid off to the side and an accidental blank. Extra end and by now a huge crowd had gathered as an Irish win had significant implications for Australia and Switzerland.

As we were without the hammer again we needed to steal. The following was the sequence of Irish stones – guard, guard, guard, guard, guard, guard, guard and a draw to the 8 foot by James and hidden by numerous guards. The Finnish skip had to draw to the 4 foot for the win. However he slid out light and despite a wee pop, it overcurled and caught an Irish guard leaving Ireland with a momentous win and huge cheers from the USA, Swiss and Aussie teams standing behind me plus the crowd upstairs.

An exceptional game of curling by both sides that had everything. I don’t normally get too emotional but a tear was shed afterwards whilst packing up after the game. Finland were understandably gutted as it prevented them from making the play offs but joined us shortly after for a drink and we remain good friends.

A wee Irish celebration continued back at the house.

IRL vs DEN

Day 6: Ireland 4-9 Denmark

Final day of the round robin saw us face Denmark who had already qualified for the play offs and as we were out, it was a dead rubber. It would have been nice to finish with a win but Denmark were too strong and ran out 9-4 winners in 6 ends.

Whilst it may have been a competition of a few could and should haves, Team Ireland performed exceptionally well against high standard opposition in a ‘group of death’ and can hold their heads very high. We have made many friends at the competition and the future of Irish Curling looks good. It was certainly my proudest moment in my curling career.

Coach Callan

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.

RESULTS:

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.”