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.

World Mixed Doubles profile – Jen Ward

And now it’s Irish World Mixed Doubles team member, Jen’s, turn for some in-depth analysis:

Name – Jen Ward
Age – 31
Occupation – HR Officer
Three things you really like? – Holidays, cinema and going to gigs/music festivals.
Three things that really annoy you? – People who walk too slowly, bad manners and bad drivers.
Three things from your ‘bucket list’ – Drive the west coast of USA, see the northern lights, camp on Keel beach in Ireland.
What was the last film you saw? I, Tonya
Give us a playlist of five of your favourite songs (and artists)
(I’ve gone for some old school ones!)
* Waiting in Vain – Bob Marley ,
* Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears,
* We Close Our Eyes – Go West,
* Pour Some Sugar on Me – Def Leppard,
* Holiday – Madonna
And one song you never want to hear again?Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus. Eoin has started singing it whenever I get into the hack to throw a strike – it gets more annoying every time!
What’s your favourite meal? Caesar salad and chips.
Washed down by? 4 bottles of Blue WKD (obviously!) and a G&T.
You can save one prized possession. What is it? My puppy, Maggie, and my photographs (I know that’s two things).
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? There’s no meaning or point to life; you have to give it one. (My brother heard from two old guys in a pub one night and we thought it was quite good).

World Mixed Doubles profile – Eoin McCrossan

Ireland will be represented at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships in ÖstersundSweden, April 21-28, by Eoin McCrossan and Jen Ward.

The team are hoping to boost Ireland’s ranking up from 23 into the top 12 to gain Olympic qualification as part of the Irish Curling Association’s strategy to have representation in the Olympic Mixed Doubles in Beijing in 2022. Eoin and Jen won the Irish Mixed Doubles Championships in December 2017 and have been putting in hours of practice on the ice ahead of their debut in the world championships, although both have represented Ireland in International competition.

Let’s find out a bit more about both of them, beginning with Eoin:

Eoin’s on the left…

Name – Eoin McCrossan
Age – 24
Occupation – Competitions Coordinator, Scottish Curling
Three things you really like? – Napping, gin, being on commentary
Three things that really annoy you? – Open mouthed chewing, selfishness, ill-considered rules
Three things from your ‘bucket list’ – Making a nominated triple (on the out turn), learn how to drive, go to Eurovision.
What was the last film you saw? Ready Player One
And the last book you read? ‘Curl to Win’ by Russ Howard
Give us a playlist of five of your favourite songs (and artists)
* Boy in the Bubble – Paul Simon
* Fairytale – Alexander Rybak
* Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
* Africa – Toto
* Fox on the run – Sweet
And one song you never want to hear again?What Does the Fox Say – Ylvis
What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind? – 2017-18 Irish Curling Champions
What’s your favourite meal? 20 Nugget Sharebox (not to share)
Washed down by? Gin (and tonic I suppose)
Tell us something about yourself that will surprise people? I can’t actually Irish dance.
You can save one prized possession. What is it? My curling shoes (they have my name on them!)
What keeps you awake at night? Last minute competition withdrawals
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? – “The best thing we can learn is how to fail.”

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.

ECC C Div Silver Medal Final vs BLR

The concluding game of the Irish Mens team European Curling Championship in the Silver Medal Final game against Belarus.

A tense game starting 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 8th end followed by a 1 in the 9th left the Irish lads looking to steal a 2, which they did and brought the match to an extra end.

Unfortunately they were not able to prevent the Belarusian skip, Pavel Petrov, drawing with his final stone to take the match.

The boys fought hard and take home the bronze medal, but not the promotion to the B League they were looking for.

ECC C Div 3/4 Play-off vs BUL

After securing the third place in the rankings with the help of a fantastic first place draw shot challenge average, the Irish Mens Team played Bulgaria in the 3v4 play-offs against Bulgaria at the European Curling Championship C-Division in Tårnby Curling Club, Kastrup, Denmark.

The team were on fire starting with taking a 3 in the first two ends and finishing with another 3 in the 8th end to provide a fabulous final score of 12 – 4 and propelling them into the silver medal game this afternoon against Belarus. Up for grabs is the last B League promotion slot.

@ WCF / Tom Rowland

@ WCF / Tom Rowland