The 2020-21 ICA season kicked off at Greenacres for our opening bonspiel with 16 members gathering and getting used to the new “Return To Curling” guidelines. Temperatures were taken upon entering the rink, social distancing was enforced at all times and there was a keen eye to spot the trendiest mask on display. Crucially, however, two games of curling were played with everyone enjoying both being back on the ice and the company and camaraderie that is at the heart of the Irish Curling Association.
David Whyte and his team of Nathan Furey, Gilly Drury and Frances Donald took on James Russell’s team which included Christine Furey, Ian Donald and Christina Graham. David forged out into an early lead but was pegged back as the Russell outfit found their sea legs and marched along the comeback trail. With the scores tied coming into the final end, it proved a step too far for Team Russell as David scored 2 to complete a 7-5 win.
John Wilson’s rink of Eoin McCrossan, John Burns and Claire McCormick had a stuttering start against Andrew Gilmore, Arran Cameron, Frances Whyte and Eleanor Burns. A big score of 4 turned the tied however as the teams head towards the last few ends. Leading by 2 in the last end, Team Wilson needed more to seal the bonspiel title but couldn’t muster it as Andrew and co claimed a final end steal. Final score: 7-6.
President Eoin concluded the day by thanking both everyone who attended as well as the staff at Greenacres for their work to ensure both a safe and enjoyable day. Prizes were distributed and all eyes now turn to the battle for The Fyfe Trophy at The Irish Open taking place at Greenacres in three weeks time.
IN one of our occasional retrospective posts, we look back ten years to the European C League at Greenacres in September 2010 and a gold medal for the Irish women’s team.
Having never together played before – in some cases even met each other – Carolyn Hibberd, Louise Kerr, Hazel Gormley-Leahy, and Mel Porter came through the qualifier to book their place at that year’s European B League in Champrey, Switzerland in December. They were ably coached at the C League by Johnjo Kenny.
Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia also sent teams to Greenacres, and the Irish beat the Turkish team 11-3 in the final.
We, your committee, like to think that we are approachable and know the mood of our members. One of the key areas of our development plan is the membership offering and so we have put together a short survey to ensure that was the case and to hear your ideas for reinforcing and growing our membership.
Please answer as honestly as possible and only say you are interested in events if you really are and will travel to support such. Also please take the time to explain if required or add suggestions at the end.
We will close the survey on Sunday 9th August to allow some time to review at our next committee meeting. This was sent to all members by email on 27th July – if you haven’t received it please check your junk mail and reach out if we have missed you somehow!
Eoin McCrossan became the youngest ever President of the Irish Curling Association yesterday during the Association’s first-ever virtual annual general meeting on Zoom.
Twenty-eight members of the ICA dialed in including Katie in LA and Colin and Dale in Ontario.
David Whyte, who has put in a lot of work on behalf of the ICA during his three years in the post as our president, gave his report for the curtailed season, due to the coronavirus pandemic, thanking the members for their support during his time in office. He congratulated Margarita Sweeney-Baird being awarded the British Empire Medal for her work with inclusive skating.
He highlighted the news that the World Mixed Championships were to be held at Aberdeen for the next three seasons meaning John Wilson and his team of Alison Fyfe, Craig Whyte and Jen Ward would be heading there in October to represent Ireland, assuming the 2020-2021 season gets underway. David expressed disappointment that the world health crisis deprived teams of the opportunity to represent Ireland internationally.
The financial report showed the ICA to be in a good financial position to move quickly to establish curling in Ireland in the future although establishing a venue remains elusive. David thanked Craig Whyte for his work on the DAP funding.
The big news was that Eoin McCrossan had been proposed and seconded for the role of president and this was approved by the meeting with a virtual show of clapping hands and thumbs-ups. Eoin arrived on the scene, and memorably disappeared from the ice, at the Four Nations in 2015 down at Fentons. Since then he has become an integral part of Irish curling and has represented his country at the World Mixed Doubles Championships and the European C League. Aged 27, he becomes the ICA’s youngest-ever president.
After his elevation to the top job, President Eoin said: “It is a great honour and quite humbling to become the president of the Irish Curling Association and I am aware of the long line of excellent presidents that I follow, particularly the immediate past president, David Whyte. David always showed considered and thoughtful leadership while allowing others on the committee and wider association to be heard and feel valued. His commitment to the role was shown in the extra year he served as well as leaving an excellent mark through the establishment of the ICA Development Plan and the memorable achievement of our Curling in Dublin in January 2019.“
“I am very excited to build on this excellent work and am touched by the many supportive messages I have received from members and can’t wait to get started. I hope through my term to increase opportunities for association members both on and off the ice, maintain our growth in membership and continue our dedicated march towards ice in Ireland. Who knows – there might even be a few success at the Four Nations and WCF events along the way!“
There was also a welcome onto the committee for John Wilson.
Good luck to Eoin for his two-year tenure and, hopefully, we will all meet again on the ice later in the year.
Mousemaster Eoin McCrossan reports on the recent digital curling challenge between Ireland and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
“Eight ICA members were victorious in their international digital curling challenge against Saudi Arabia overcoming an overnight deficit to secure a 124-116 victory. The curlers were split into two teams of four and took on four of their Saudi counterparts across the weekend. Eoin, Gillian, David and Clare teamed up in half of the draw with John Wilson, Johnjo, Frances and Tom completing the octet. The competition was based on total shots, with the nation scoring the most winning.
“The competition began with opening ceremonies and greetings between both side with President David welcoming the challenge from the Saudi contingent. A strong start on Saturday morning saw the Irish storm out to a commanding lead before a swift reversal of fortunes and some incredibly dominant Saudi wins swung momentum in their favour and saw them take an overnight lead of eight shots.
“After overnight pep talks and renewed focus the Irish kept everything tight and clawed back shot after shot as things got tighter and then tension rose. Sunday afternoon was the hammer blow for the Saudi effort with some crucial large wins for the Irish squad meant they had an unassailable seven shot lead heading into the last game. An entertaining four ends followed with the ‘Mousemaster’ playing an aggressive game an emerge victorious and cap the tie off with a flourish.
“Closing ceremonies followed with newly formed friendships and potential new curling destinations on the horizons front and centre. Particularly mention must go to John Wilson who not only won all four of his games, contributed 27 shots to the Irish cause – a remarkable 20 per cent of the Irish total!”
EIGHT ICA keyboard curlers have accepted an online challenge from their curling buddies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Led by Mousemaster Eoin McCrossan – with Gillian Russell, David Whyte and Clare McCormick, plus John Wilson, Johnjo Kenny, Frances Whyte and Tom Roach, the two teams will play for Ireland against two Saudi rinks led by Alastair Fyfe (international curler and founding father of curling in Saudi Arabia).
The games will be staged over the weekend and after a zoom conference between the players of the two countries all the action will happen in Room 3 of the online games portal FlyOrDie.
Here’s the bonspiel information and the draw.
Good luck everyone and look out for results on the ICA Facebook page.
Well done to Eoin McCrossan who blasted all-comers off the laptop during the ICA’s first-ever bank holiday virtual bonspiel. And congratulations also to all those who took part, making it a resounding success.
Eoin was crowned the inaugural ICA Virtual Bonspiel Champion after a series of excellent playoff performances, and a final victory against Arran Cameron, to cap off an enjoyable weekend of online curling action. Starting with a field of 24 including ICA members, supporters and hangers-on, a triple knockout was played across the weekend to whittle the field down to the eight quarter-finalists.
Now it’s all over, the ‘Mousemaster’ himself has compiled his report from the frontline: “Leading the way were the undefeated pair of Iain Wallace and John Wilson who qualified through the ‘A’ road with convincing wins. The B-road saw Arran Cameron and Maggie Wilson through as they sent the losing A-road finalists into more of a tailspin giving them their second loss on the bounce. Finally, that left the C-road, where it was do or die, kill or be killed and everyone was scrapping for their lives.
“I saw off Fiona Spain 3-1 with some canny steals and Jason Medhurst recovered to see of David Whyte 5-2. JJ Kenny was edged out by old friend Andy Penker meaning that Gillian Russell held the household bragging rights as she downed Frances Whyte to seal the last place in the playoffs.
“Big scores with hammer were the name of the game in the playoffs as one big end proved telling across the games. John Wilson kept his run going with a fine win over Andy Penker and Arran Cameron stole the last to seal a nervy win over Gillian Russell. “I was set fair against Maggie Wilson until an inspired two in the third end jolted the game, meaning I had to draw the side of the button to seal the 5-3 win. Completing the semi-finals was Jason Medhurst who upset the second seed Iain Wallace 6-2 to give Wallace his first loss of the championship.
“The first semi-final saw a rematch from earlier in the event when I had an opportunity to gain revenge over Medhurst. Our A-road match had ended 5-1 to Medhurst, but I was not to be denied this time round. A strong start with hammer saw me off to 4-0 lead and two more steals with Medhurst going all out meant an unassailable lead – final score 6-1.
“The second saw Cameron shine and Wilson falter. Cameron started with hammer and a missed hit for four resulted in only a score of three but still swung the game in his favour. Stealing the next two ends saw a similar lead and the final beckon. Wilson managed to remind the crowd of his abilities with an excellent runback to finish and score two points and finish the game 5-2.
“Another chance at retribution then for me – having downed my A-road conqueror in the semi-finals, I had the chance to do the same to my B-road nemesis, Arran, in the grand final. The last tie between us had ended 4-1 to Cameron and he would hope the repeat the same. A blitz of a first end saw all out attack as we both put on a show for the fans. Those watching were gripped. Some excellent craft and touch saw the bar raised shot by shot. After a great chip takeout, the dust settled and I managed to score four in the first end to lay a big marker down. Cameron came firing back throwing the virtual kitchen sink at me but with his last draw of the second end agonisingly not curling enough a single was scored and the end looked nigh. I scored another two points in third and the celebrations could almost begin. A final end of throw-throughs, 360 degree spinning slides and showboating runbacks completed the match with Cameron drawing for a single point and offering congratulations with the final score 6-2.”
You can review the complete draw and linescores from the event here.
What a weekend that was, fun and drama with some curling thrown in. Now, do the virtual world championships beckon…??