Neil and Alison Fyfe are on their way to represent Ireland at
the World Mixed Doubles Championship 2017 with an emphatic display of curling at Dumfries Ice Bowl this weekend.
They won this morning’s game 11-2 against their only challengers, Alan Mitchell and Margarita Sweeney-Baird, to go undefeated through the championship.
At the presentations afterwards, President Louise Kerr congratulated the winners and wished them well for their trip to Lethbridge, in Canada in April. She commiserated with the runners-up, Alan and Margarita, and thanked all the teams that had taken part in the playdowns. She also thanked John Burns for umpiring the competition, David Whyte, Craig Whyte and Ian Dyer for manning the timeclocks and John Brown from the English Curling Association for helping with measures.
Ireland gained some success at the recent European B League championships in Braehead when ICA member, Alan Mitchell, won a tremendous B league silver medal as coach to the successful Slovakian Men’s team. Not only did the team of Jakub Polák, David Misun, Patrick Kapralik & Juraj Gallo win the silver medal but gained promotion to the European A league for 2017. Congratulations, guys!
I am pulling rank here and hijacking the ICA website to say thanks to everyone in the ICA and other curling associations who bought my book about the Galloway soldiers serving in the Great War – Galloway’s Great War, Volume I: August 1914 – August 1915.
The second book, Galloway’s Great War, Volume II: September 1915 – September 1916, will be on sale from November 11th. Again, a percentage of each book sold will go to Poppy Scotland.
In our last game, Team Ireland stepped up to the plate against a Slovakian team that needed a victory to progress. Right from the start, we were a totally different proposition than we had been in some of our previous games-perhaps because we were able to relax with the pressure off. Having said that, we desperately wanted to win to finish on a positive note. The Barr family provided us with the hammer courtesy of a great LSD from Jacqui and off we went. We were able to control the game pretty much all the way through with the exception of the 6th end. In that end a couple of takeouts that didn’t quite work out left the Slovakians with a draw for 3 which they would never have made had it not been for their exceptional sweeping which was a feature throughout the game. It just shows what can be achieved on ice this quick with dynamic sweeping. That three left us 4-3 down after 6. A well played end in the 7th allowed Bill to draw for 2 to go one ahead
The last end played out in our favour as the Slovakians failed to clear a couple of guards and with a stone on the 4ft, the skipper was able to play a top 12 biter to force the draw which just slipped deep and the win was secure. A good end to what I think we all agreed was a frustrating campaign in that a 3-3 record would have been a satisfactory result rather than 2-4.
All in all it has been a great experience for the team to be involved in a World Competition and we have had a lot of fun as well as enjoying the serious business of the curling. We have been privileged to represent Ireland and I’m sure all look forward to the opportunity at some pint in the future. Many thanks to all for your messages of support. They were much appreciated.
A slideshow of some of the fantastic shots of our Irish mixed team in action in Kazan this week. All photographs and courtesy and copyright of the World Curling Federation:
The coffin lid was finally nailed down on Team Ireland’s qualification hopes today in the match against Finland. It was tacked down after a disappointing LSD which effectively scuppered our hopes. In the match itself, it was the skips turn to catch the weight disease early on but a near freeze in the first lying four against with his last caused the Finnish skip to go safety first and a score of 2 resulted. We played much better at times during this game but the loss of a big 3 in the 4th put us on the back foot again and against a very accurate striking team as the Finns were, we just couldn’t keep enough stones in play to force either a multiple score or a steal. We have one more game tomorrow at 8am (the joys) against Slovakia so it’s off to late practice tonight and then up and at them tomorrow. There is a little extra spice in this in that Slovakia and England’s relative hopes rest on the result. Win for us and England go through; lose and the Slovakians get the nod over England and Finland they think. Anyway despite all of that we will be going all out to finish on a high.
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.
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.
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!!
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!
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.
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.
We have been joined on this trip by the originally named ‘Paddy the Bear’ courtesy of one of a Jacqui’s work colleagues.
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.
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.