Ireland mixed team take on the world in Aberdeen

Ireland’s mixed team are in Aberdeen ahead of the start of the World Mixed Championships tomorrow morning.

The team are now skipped by 34-year-old John Wilson who replaced original skip James Russell who has moved to the USA. John has already represented Ireland at the World Mixed Doubles Championships in Stavanger, Norway in April this year.

The World Mixed competition, now is in it’s fifth year, will see 40 nations competing for the gold medal and every strong curling nation is present.  Team Ireland are John, Ailsa Anderson, Craig Whyte, Irish debutante Niamh Begley Luke and 30-year-old coach David Hibberd. They will be going head to head with, Slovenia, Italy, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Turkey, Luxembourg and the home nation Scotland in their group.

Team Ireland recently played in the Kinross International Friendly Bonspiel and got off to an excellent start winning their first two games convincingly however they were stopped in the semi-final by a very experienced Welsh team who are also in the ‘Granite City’ for the world mixed.

The world mixed championship will be an altogether different test with a huge amount of talent and experience in a lot of the teams.  Ireland will be playing the Italian team led by Denise Pimpini, who has competed in the world mixed twice before and the Scottish quartet skipped by Luke Carson, who achieved a bronze medal representing Great Britain earlier this year at the World University Games

Other notable players present at the championships will be the defending champions, Canada, skipped by Colin Kurtz, as well as Olympians Andy Kapp (Germany), Manuela Siegrist (Switzerland), Jenny Perret (Switzerland) and Martin Rios (Switzerland). There are too many world champions and medalists to mention them all!

Meet the Team:

The Irish – Ailsa, Craig, Niamh and John

Lead:  Niamh Begley Luke, aged 25, will be representing Ireland for the first time in Aberdeen and has been heard to say that she is over the moon to be representing Ireland as she has “never represented anyone at anything!” 

Second:  Thirty-year-old Craig Whyte is now one of the most experience “youngsters” of the ICA having represented Ireland at five European C League and a European B League Championship.

Third:  Ailsa Anderson has racked up 33 caps for Ireland at five WCF competitions and is the only surviving member of last year’s team that travelled to Kelowna in Canada to play in the World Mixed. Thirty-year-old Ailsa, who hails from Aberdeen, couldn’t be happier to represent Ireland in her home ice rink.

Skip: For John Wilson this will be the first of three WCF competitions that he will be competing in this season (the World Mixed, the Mixed Doubles Qualifiers and the European C League) and he hopes that this will be an exciting season for the Irish Curling Association.

You can find the team’s schedule here:

Carolyn and Co open with a win

President David welcomed everyone to Greenacres Ice Rink for the first ICA bonspiel of the season including Donncha Ó Conmhuí making the trip from Dublin via the Scottish Curling Adult Camp in Stranraer and Kerrianne Cox who were both along for their first bonspiel.


Bill Gray, Frances Whyte, Nina Clancy, Donncha Ó Conmhuí 5-6 Neil Fyfe, Eoin McCrossan, Clare McCormick, Frances Donald

Neil got off to a strong start with a 4 in the second end but was pegged back towards the end of the game but Bill could only manufacture a steal of 1 in the last end meaning Neil won by one point.

David Whyte, Christine Furey, Gillian Russell, Tricia Boult 4-8 Carolyn Hibbard, Andrew Gilmore, John Reidy, Kerrianne Cox

The winners with President David (left)

David began strongly with three points in the second end in a tight first half. Momentum swung in the 4th end with a big score of 4 points that carried Carolyn and team all the way to winning the bonspiel.

Marie O’Kane, Ian Donald, Gillian Drury, Dave McHale 5-5 Arran Cameron, Nathan Furey, Steve Callan, Maria O’Neill

The tightest game on the ice swung back and forth. Marie edged out to a 4-2 lead after three ends but was pegged back by two singles. Arran scored 1 with hammer in the last end to make sure of the peel.

David thanked everyone for coming, looked forward to the next events on the calendar including The Irish Open in November and presented Carolyn’s team with prizes and the perpetual trophy.

Welcome to the new curling season

Members of the Irish Curling Association will start season 2019/2020 this Sunday at Greenacres Ice Rink with the opening bonspiel.

The teams are:

Bill Gray/Johnjo KennyVSNeil Fyfe
Frances Whyte Eoin McCrossan
Nina Clancy Clare McCormick
Donncha O’Conmhui Frances Donald
David WhyteVSCarolyn Hibberd
Andrew Gilmore John Furey
Gillian Russell John Reidy
Tricia Boult Kerrianne  (Dave McHale’s Fiancé)
Marie O’KaneVSArran Cameron
Ian Donald Nathan Furey
Gilly Drury Steve Callan
Dave McHale Maria O’Neill

Good luck and good curling to everyone!

President David welcomes the new season

Irish Curling Association President David Whyte is looking forward to the 2019/2020 curling season starting.

Read his letter to all ICA members here:

“This is my third epistle to you all which is one more than would be normally expected. I am delighted to continue in the hot seat especially as we have had an interesting couple of years creating a ‘Development Plan’ for the association and hosting ‘Come and Try’ events in Dublin in January with hopefully more developments ahead. However, I would ask you all to think about supporting the association through involvement on the committee and in particular for someone to be interested in taking up the role of president going forward. From my experience it’s good to work with a great group of fellow committee members in leading the ICA in the years ahead. Anyway, enough of the advert for now …….”

“You will have seen from Bill’s emails that the fixtures are all in place with one change for the mixed playdowns which have had to move back a week from 8 to 15 March. We start off in Greenacres at the beginning of October, stay there for the fifth Irish Championships in November, move to Stirling in December, Kinross in February, followed very shortly by the Irish weekend in Stranraer and it will be the final bonspiel in March before you know it. Please try to make as many of the events as you can – they are great fun and a chance to catch up with members you might not come across on the ice otherwise.”

“It is the turn of the Welsh to host the Four Nations in January and they have chosen to return to the Flower Bowl in Preston. That turned out to be a great venue when hosted by the English last time round and for those who couldn’t make it then I would wholly recommend getting the chance to curl with flowers and stones under the ice and plants and colours all over the wall – a great experience.”

“The success of previous ‘Training and Development’ days at the start of the season to give potential new members a Come and Try while helping the rest of us fine tune our skills has encouraged us to think about staging further ones, supported by DAP funding and details will be circulated once the information is available.”

“The closing date for all playdowns is fast approaching on 30 August so if you want to try for the opportunity of representing Ireland on the World or European stage something which is truly special and a great honour get those entries in to Bill. For such a small Association we manage to punch above our weight on a number of occasions not just in these WCF events but in Scottish based competitions as well as overseas summer and winter bonspiels where we carry the flag. The playdowns will continue to be at Dumfries where we are well looked after and John Burns continues to officiate as umpire whenever possible. To allow these to replicate the actual tournament as closely as possible we aim to use time-clocks and I would encourage anyone who is interested to assist in running these. No previous experience is necessary and you also get to see some great games.”

“As referred to earlier we took the opportunity to promote curling in Dublin in January as part of the key objective in our ‘Development Plan’ and the committee is having a session shortly to review progress against the targets we set in that document. That will inevitably cover how we follow up on what was a great success. Our new member Jason Medhurst who drove down to Dublin to experience the occasion having only just moved to Belfast has made contacts in Northern Ireland interested in developing our sport and we are following up on that with Jason to see where that leads us.”

Briefly wearing my treasurer’s hat we have retained the subscription at £22 for a full member and £11 for an associate or junior member.

“These are due by 30th September with a fall back position of the 6th October at the first bonspiel.”

“I look forward to seeing you on the ice very soon and if I can assist anyone with any matter please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at any point in the season.””

World Mixed Doubles Qualifying

The new qualifying event for the World Mixed Doubles Championships will take place at Greenacres Ice Rink from December 3 to December 7, 2019.

Ireland will be represented at the qualifiers by the team of John Wilson and Alison Fyfe.

Both have previous experience of playing in the World Mixed Doubles. Alison played with her father Neil in Karlstad, Sweden and Lethbridge, Canada, in 2016 and 2017 and John played with Louise Kerr this year in Stavanger, Norway.

The top four teams will go on to the world championships in Kelowna, BC, Canada in April 2020.

Irish visit bella Cortina!

John, Ross, Alison and Louise in Cortina

Three members of the Irish Curling Association played in the 54th Summer Bonspiel in beautiful Cortina D’Ampezzo in the Italian Dolomites last week.

Ross and Alison Barr and Louise Kerr, plus John Brown from the English Curling Association, joined 37 other, multi-national, teams (including two world champions) that make the annual pilgrimage to curl and socialise in the most stunning of Alpine settings.

Fun in the Dolomites

The foursome played teams from Italy, Slovakia, Switzerland and the USA, winning one! But having a good time is high on the agenda during the four days of competition and the team certainly did that.

Day one highlight was taking the cable car from the town centre up to Faloria for lunch and a quick climb up the mountains.

Up at Faloria
John in his Knickerbocker Glory

The rain came on Friday and Saturday, but as we were mostly in the massive 1956 Olympic stadium playing, or drinking Prosecco or beer and eating pizza and ice-cream we didn’t notice

There was a grand dinner on the Saturday night with delicious food and copious amounts of alcohol – all courtesy of the organisers.

On the Sunday, after a morning game against our American friends from the famous Margarita Club, we took a drive up the hairpin bends out of Cortina, accompanied by bikers with wheels and bikers with engines to the vertigo-inducing cable car ride at Lagazuoi. From there we climbed to the 7870 metre summit of Falzarego and gazed in awe as the snow-capped high Alps stretched off into the distance.

You too can climb mountains in sandshoes.
It’s going to be a long wait for the next competitor….

The day we returned home, we heard that Cortina, co-hosting with Milan, had been awarded the 2026 Winter Olympics. We were chuffed for the townspeople as they were very excited about getting the Games back again. As well as curling in the Olympic stadium, which now has a modern roof, having been open air in 1956, we also visited the old bobsleigh track, which has been out of commission for 11 years, having originally been built in 1923. The Italians are allegedly going to spend €38 million refurbishing it in time for 2026.

Every curler should experience a trip to Cortina – it’s fantastico!

WSCC 2019 Games 4,5 & 6

David and Neil hard at work

GAME 4: Ireland 4 – 7 Japan

Three days is a long time in curling!! The Senior Men joined battle with Japan on Tuesday night in a significant game with qualification in mind. Right from the outset, the guys were a bit cagey and not quite hitting their straps and a tight game resulted which was not really what the doctor ordered. The scores remained close but could have been so much different had a hit by Skip Bill in the 2nd end not chipped a Japanese stone into shot position where a hit and stick would have left Ireland lying 4 or 5 putting pressure on Fujisawa-san.

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Ireland and Japan following their Round Robin game

(Yep his younger daughter is Satsuki Fujisawa who skipped the Japanese women to Bronze in the 2018 Olympics).Ultimately Ireland needed a steal in the last to keep the game alive but Bill’s last draw just came up short and gave the opposition a hit to clear the irish counter to leave him with a single shot to win. Definitely a game to forget for the Irish.


The Senior boys were back on the tricky and slow sheet G again the next day, taking on England. This was a much more promising effort with Ireland moving into a 5 shot lead in the first end and controlling the game all the way to the 7th when England conceded. The real drama at this point however was the Last Stone Draw and associated Draw Shot Challenge as with Japan having beaten Ireland and Poland beating Japan, if Ireland managed to beat Poland then Draw Shot could determine qualification. A nervy LSD by Bill and David resulted in our overall DSC being top of their group, just 2cm ahead of Poland so moving into the final RR game against Poland, it was to be a straight shootout for qualification.


In a nutshell this was comfortably the most disappointing defeat in the recent team’s history – probably out ranking the disappointment of not beating Russia last year in Ostersund at the same stage. What made it worse was that the team played exceptionally well for 6 ends with total control and pressurised their Polish opponents in every end, leading 4-2 after the 6th. Then disaster struck in the 7th end. A series of missed shots or poor results from shots along with one poor tactical call resulted in Poland lying 4 when Bill came to play his first skip stone. A heavy multiple take out was called and executed well but only resulted in one Polish counter exiting the house and the others being spread around – lying three. The Polish skip played a draw to the back 4 to lie 4 and Bill was left to try and cover that stone and hope that it wouldn’t be able to be struck out. His draw was fractionally heavy and missed the break point which resulted in it taking a different path to similar shots which had been played well all game. The stone agonisingly slipped past the back 4 stone and gave the Polish skip an open draw for a 5, which he made. Ireland were now 7-4 down in the last and tried hard to manufacture a three but some strong hitting (and a couple of fortunate ones at that) by the Poles ran the boys out of stones. The dream was over for yet another year but this time it seemed so much more deflating coughing up a big end when they had been in control.

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Post match catch up with our Polish friends (and conquerors!)

Poland have made great strides in the past couple of years and it was good to have a chat with them afterwards as their association with our great friend Tony Tierney who coached Agnieska (the Polish coach) and also with Gordon McIntyre who had coached some of the Polish Senior team as well as Ireland seniors over the years.

Reflecting on the week, Skip Bill said, ” As ever it has been a privilege to represent Ireland at a World competition and I am proud to be part of this band of brothers and we should be similarly proud of our efforts this week. Ultimately, I think we lacked some of the consistency we have had in previous campaigns and made a few too many errors at crucial times – something you can’t afford to do at this level if you want to progress, particularly as the standard at seniors is still increasing at the top end. Despite all of that, we’ve had a blast – made more new curling friends – had a barrel load of laughs at various times and seen some amazing scenery in and around Stavanger. We are now officially broke however!!. Onwards and upwards.”

WMDCC – game 7


Louise sorts her hair in case the WCF photographer snaps her. Photo credit Frances Whyte.

Ireland’s mixed doubles team, John Wilson and Louise Kerr, finished their world championships outing on a high with a win in their final game against Qatar.

Having just won the draw shot challenge, the Irish team secured a one at the first end and gave up a one at the second.

John concentrates on the line. Photo credit WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik
“Needs to draw”…….. Photo credit WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik

Taking their powerplay in the third, accurate hitting from John, including a double take out left them in a good position. Qatar’s Mabarak Al- Abdulla drew into the open house for shot but a hit and roll out gave Ireland a big three.

John again! Photo credit WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik

Ireland stole in the fourth end and piled the pressure on in the next end with great draws followed by good, well placed guards. When the Qatar last stone got caught on frosty ice at the side of the sheet it was four shots to Ireland.

And John again! Photo credit WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik

The team then gave the opposition a one in the sixth end.

In the seventh end, Qatar got a good last stone at the back of the button, but John Wilson drew to the four foot a foot in front of it. Ireland’s attempted tap-back for two clipped a front stone to give up another steal.

The Qatar team shook hands at this point and Ireland had a second win. The teams statistics were also good, boosting their overall percentages for the competition!

This will be the last year that Ireland automatically qualify for the world championships. Next season, the top 16 from this competition will go straight to the worlds, but other countries will have to play a qualifying competition where the top four will qualify for the world championships.

WMDCC – game 6


In the pre-game line up. Photo credit WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik

Ireland lost their penultimate game at the world mixed doubles championships here in Norway, mainly due to a poor last stone at the first end when I was too light with a stone in an attempt to get into a cluster of New Zealand shots.

Bridget Becker and John. Photo credit WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik
Against New Zealand. Photo credit WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik

But we plugged away and got a mini-break in the seventh end with the Kiwis’ power play backfired on them. We were both making the shots called by this time in the game which is always a confidence booster.

“The spirit of curling” lives! Photo credit – WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik

We really enjoyed the game with good shots from all four players and after wards we decamped to the bar for a beer. We will bow out tomorrow morning when we play Qutar at 9am.

Bridget, Louise , John and Sean. Photo credit – the coach!

Wish us luck!