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

WMCC game 8

IRELAND 4 DENMARK 9

Arran and Ailsa at the world championships – photo credit WCF

The Irish Mixed team of James Russell, Ailsa Anderson, Arran Cameron, Katie Kerr and coach Steve Callan ended their adventure at the World Mixed Championships in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada with a defeat to Denmark.

The experienced Danish team got of to a flyer with a three at the first end, followed by a steal of two that effectively put the game out of Ireland’s reach. Twos were exchanged until the game was ended before the last end.

Russia, Denmark and Switzerland qualify from Ireland’s group for the final stages.

WMCC game 7

IRELAND 4 FINLAND 3

A storming extra-end victory for the Irish mixed curling team against Finland at the world championships in Canada took their win-loss record to 3-4 and boosted their confidence ahead of second in the group Denmark later today.

 

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

A very tactical game ensued with lots of singles and blank ends on the scoreboard as the two teams fought to keep last stone advantage. Finland had last stone in the last end, which was blanked and, therefore, the extra end, but Ireland keep their nerve to steal a one for the victory.

Their last game is at midnight (our time) tonight.

Come on Ireland!

 

WMCC game 6

IRELAND 2 USA 6

Arran and Katie on sweeping duty – photo credit WCF

There was another defeat for the Irish mixed curling team in Kelowna, BC, through the night, going down 6-2 to the USA.

Singles were exchanged over the first three ends before the Americans stole a one and then a two to put clear water between them and the Irish.Ireland struggled to get more that a one on the scoreboard and the USA ran out comfortable winners.

The team have a break now till midnight our time (4pm in western Canada) when they face Finland.

Come on Ireland!

WMCC game 5

IRELAND 3 RUSSIA 8

James Russell in action against Russia – photo credit WCF

Ireland suffered their third defeat at the World Mixed Curling Championships in Canada, going down 8-3 to Russia.

James Russell, the skip of Team Ireland – photo credit WCF

It was textbook stuff from the Russians for the first four ends, limiting the Irish team to ones while taking twos when they had the hammer. A steal of two by the Russians in the fifth end heaped the pressure onto Ireland and, after scoring another single in the sixth, the Irish curlers lost yet another two at the seventh.

The team will now regroup before facing the USA at midnight (BST).

WMCC game 4

IRELAND 12 NETHERLANDS 3

Ailsa and Katie mean business – photo credit WCF

A wonderful day for Ireland’s mixed team at the world championships recording their second win with a comprehensive rout of the Netherlands.

Ireland second Arran Cameron in action – photo credit WCF

A stunning six in the first end set the tone and after a few ends where they limited the Dutch to singles, a four in the sixth end meant the opposition offered handshakes.

Next up is Russia…….

 

WMCC game 3

IRELAND 10 BRAZIL 6

Ireland’s mixed curling team of James Russell, Ailsa Anderson, Arran Cameron and Katie Kerr got their first win of the world championships today in Kelowna, British Columbia, with a 10-6 victory over Brazil.

Lefty James Russell delivers his stone – photo credit WCF

The first three ends of this contest were a bit of a nightmare for the boys and girls in green, losing a single, a three and then another one before they got on the scoreboard with a three at the fourth end. That saved them from a tongue-lashing from Stevie ‘Hairdryer’ Callan at the break.

Back on the ice, the Irish limited the Brazilians to a single in the fifth before thumping seven shots past the Samba sliders over the last three ends. A dominant second-half display that drew comparisons with a certain  world cup semi-final circa 2014.

If they can just nutmeg The Netherlands later on today……

Come on Ireland!

Kelowna craic

Our top team in Kelowna are not alone! Hoards of Irish fans have descended on the Rockies town to support the curlers.

Coach Steve Callan as well as composing a comprehensive match report (see below) has also been taking photos to record a few “special moments” of the world championships.

Jane Cameron and friends fly the flag.

 

Ireland’s super fans Elspeth and Struan Callan.

 

The team in their Craig Whyte Appreciation Society tee-shirts and junior Canadian member Alice

The view from the coach’s bench in the game v Australia.

The team headquarters is sandwiched by the Canadians on one side and the Swiss on the other.

Coach Callan commented:

“The team and support all arrived in beautiful Kelowna on Thursday 11 October and set up team Ireland’s base camp for the next 11 days. We soon found out our house was located in between team Canada and team Switzerland’s houses and both had their flags flying from trees at each house. Not to be outdone on the flag score we duly hoisted three flags of our own!
“There was serious concern over the health of skip James Russell who arrived with an injured shoulder and almost no neck movement. We believe the injury was caused by putting his hand in his pocket for a round of drinks. A nasty fall on the ice during Friday’s practice did not help the injury either and made it considerably worse. There  was serious concern amongst the team that James would not be fit to start the competition and Ireland would either have to play with three, or if the WCF allowed it, I could step in.
“Thankfully following heavy duty painkillers, acupuncture, massage, a witchdoctor and no sympathy from the team, James made a remarkable recovery within 24 hours to declare himself fit to start against Australia on Saturday night at 8pm local time  following the opening ceremony.
“Game 1 versus Australia started slowly for Ireland and were 4-2 down at half time with nerves having a negative impact. Following the restart Ireland fell 5-2 behind. However Ireland pulled 1 back in end 6 and then stole a 2 in end 7 to tie 5-5 going into the last end, but without the hammer. Australia used this to their advantage to draw to the button with their last stone to take the game 6-5.
“The support for Ireland was tremendous and was only outdone by Canadian and USA fans. Arran’s wife Jane, Ailsa’s mum and partner, Katie’s dad and Steve’s wife and two children Elspeth and Struan made plenty of noise for Ireland. Elspeth in particular was very supportive with her cheering and flag waving and was subject to significant media attention during the game.
“Whilst down about losing to a team Ireland were more than capable of beating, the blow was softened by the Aussie team buying several pitchers of beer in the bar afterwards and some good quality banter.
“Next up is a strong Switzerland team ranked sixth in the world on Sunday at 12 noon local time.
“Game 2 started similarly to that against Australia and Ireland found themselves 2 down after end 1. However Coach Callan observed from the evening before that the Swiss team preferred to play a hitting game so Ireland’s tactic was to get plenty of guards out front and draws behind and make life awkward for Switzerland. Ireland quickly imposed themselves on the game and got to half time 3-2 up and playing really well with confidence increasing after ends 2, 3 and 4. The Swiss knew they were in a game.
“Somehow end 5 worked out badly and Ireland shipped a 4 and the momentum swung back to Switzerland. Ireland hit back hard with a 2 in the sixth end to be 6-5 down. Switzerland took their 1 in the seventh end leaving Ireland needing to score 2 in the last to force an extra end. Following excellent stone placement by Katie, Arran and Alisa, James had straightforward draw to tie the game at 7-all.
“The extra end was exciting and nerve wrecking as Ireland had 4 stones counting before Switzerland’s final stone. Their skip played a delicate draw and looked like it was going to catch a guard and hand Ireland a famous but deserved victory. However, the so called “luck of the Irish” failed as the stone clipped the very edge of the guard stone and spun its way into the house and lie 1 and take the game.
“As  coach, I could not have been more proud of their efforts against Switzerland who are one of the world’s strongest curling nations. Ireland’s game management and accuracy was a massive improvement on the first game versus Australia and hopefully bodes well for the rest of the competition. Whilst deflated following the loss to Switzerland there is increased confidence within the team that some more positive results will come Ireland’s way.
“Next up is Brazil at 12 noon local time on Monday quickly followed by The
Netherlands at 8pm.”

WMCC game 2

IRELAND 7 SWITZERLAND 8

After a spirited fightback to take this game to an extra-end, Ireland’s mixed team lost out, once again by one shot, in their second game at the World Mixed Curling Championships in Canada.

Ireland’s mixed team skip James Russell – photo credit WCF

The team had gone into the fourth end break leading 3-2 after stealing in two consecutive ends, but the Swiss swiftly wiped that advantage out, taking a four in the fifth. Ireland got a good two back in the sixth and after giving up a single, kept their nerve to score the deuce to tie the game up at seven all at the end of the eighth. The Swiss team then used the last stone advantage in the extra end to take the single for the win.

Next game for Ireland will be against Brazil at 8pm (our time) tomorrow.

Come on Ireland!