ESI 2012 – Day 1

Report from Bill Gray:
Johnjo Kenny      0 1 0 2 1 0 1 0 5
Karl Grossmann 0 0 4 0 0 1 0 1 6

The Irish Men opened up their Euro Seniors Invitation campaign with a narrow defeat. Taking to the Ice without Skip and talisman, Johnjo Kenny, they lost by a single shot to the Swiss team that they had defeated  in an extra end at the Worlds in Copenhagen.
The team lined up with Bill Gray skipping, and having blanked the first end, should have had a two in the second when lead David Hume couldn’t avoid playing footie with the running take-out stone which resulted in a single.
A bad loss of 4 in the third put the Irish boys on the back foot but a two in the next followed by a steal in the 5th got them back on level terms.
They managed to restrict the Swiss to a single in the 6th but Bill Gray failed to convert a nose hit for a two in the 7th-scoring a single to level the game again.
Without the hammer, the Team tried to manoeuvre some guards around but despite a couple of cracking draw attempts by David Whyte which sweepers David Hume and second Tony Tierney struggled to judge perfectly, it was left to the skip to play an angled tap up which was a fraction heavy and gave up the one by a couple of inches.
Not the start the guys were looking for but with the Big Man coming in tonight to play the ex World Champ Keith Prentice, they will be going all out to reverse this mornings result.

ESI 2012

OUR mens senior world champions curlers  team take to the ice today for the first time since their historic win in Taarnby on April 21st this year.
The team, along with the Irish ladies seniors ,are taking part in the European Seniors Invitation at Greenacres Ice Rink.
The men  – Johnjo Kenny, Bill Gray, David Whyte, Tony Tierney and fifth man David Hume will play Karl Grossmann from Switzerland at 10.45am today and follow up with  a 7pm  game against former world senior champion Keith Prentice from Scotland.
Tomorrow they play Sergey Korklenko from Russia at 12.45pm and on Friday at 8.30am take on the Italian team skipped by Carlo Carrea and at 2pm they play their final round-robin game against Win Needeman from the Netherlands.
The ladies team – Marie O’Kane, Gilly Drury, Christina Graham and Charlotte Tierney (filling in for Louise Kerr) will play world senior silver medallists Barbara Watt from Scotland at 2pm this afternoon and come up against Bitte Oslund from Sweden at 7pm tonight.
On Thursday  at 4pm the ladies play Renata Nedkoff of Switzerland and on Friday at 8.30am the opposition is Margerta Matuskovicova from Slovakia and their final round-robin game is against Lois Brown  from Scotland at 4.15pm.
The semi finals at at 7pm on Friday and the final is at 3pm on Saturday.
Good luck to both teams.

EMCC Louise’s Blog: 2012 Post Mortem

Escape from Colditz and other stories….

The Irish Mixed Curling team’s visit to Erzurum in Turkey for the European Mixed Curling Championships was in turns breathtaking (literally), hilarious and traumatic.

Curling wise it was a case of could have and should have done better. There was no doubt that we had the beating of every team we played, bar the Swiss. But, as our skip pointed out in no uncertain terms, “When competing at that level, inconsistency and basic errors will be swiftly punished”.

The loss to Sweden on the last stone was a particularly gut wrenching as the game was ours for the taking if only I had cleared the guard with my second stone instead of skiffing it. (God don’t you replay those shots 1,000 times again in your head and never miss.) But, however, although this made Robin’s last two stones more difficult, we still had a shot for the game. The cool dude Swedish skip had played a perfect freeze onto the top of Robin’s first stone in the four foot and was well hidden. Robin’s second stone was well played but despite furious sweeping we just could not hold it and instead of sitting on top of the Swedish stone for shot, it drew an inch to far. Always with the Irish at the European’s another inch would make all the difference.

The Swedes were unbeaten at that point and afterwards the third player said to me in the changing rooms: “I say to myself if we win this game I believe in God.”

After that complete scunnering it was a huge effort to get motivated for the last game against the Russians. But somehow we did enough to get the win despite spending ten minutes in complete darkness halfway through the game after a power cut. That seriously made us wonder about the nearness of the Syrian artillery.

So that was the curling over despite finishing on the same win-loss record as Switzerland they got the nod from Dor the umpire as they had beaten us in the round robin. When Scotland’s men were in the same position in the Seniors last April they got a play-off. But hay-ho – not that we’re bitter.

Team on the terrace of ColditzThe accommodation at the Dedeman Palandoken Ski Lodge, better known as Colditz, was our base for the week but unfortunately well out of the town. Three quarters of the way up such a steep mountainside all vehicles heading there spent the last ten minutes in first gear. Once you arrived you realised there was nothing – absolutely nothing – for miles and miles and miles.

Captured there by the organising committee, we had to cope with food that was on the south side of inedible. exploding showers, heaters that would either not switch off or on, doors coming off their frames, telly’s with no cables and worst of all – no internet connection when the Ryder Cup was on! Disssasstaaar!

Having endured this for a week, tunnels were dug, the guards had been distracted and on Friday night Colonel Gray made his escape in the back of the bread van. As the clock ticked onwards through the evening, Flight Lieutenant Kenny said: “It will be bummer if we are sitting in the dining room and Robin is marched back in by the guards.”

On the Wednesday we took a two-hour tour of Erzurum that was unmissable thanks to the antics of Olga the (former) Russian coach and her side kick Nadina. Olga just took complete control of proceedings elbowing the wee Turkish guide out of the way. She was soon directing us all on and off the bus, up and down the streets and in and out of the Mosque. But the highlight has to be sitting cross-legged in a Turkish tea house sipping tea and eating God knows what. The bread looked like napkins.

On the Friday we nearly topped that by returning to the same teahouse to buy a smoking hookah. Johnjo said he was keen to try it and Hazel knew how things like that work so when the huge glass jug arrived the Big Man sucked and sucked and sucked on the pipe thingy. He must have lungs like a racehorse as when he exhaled we were all engulfed in apple flavoured smoke. JJ compared it to being a contestant on Stars on Your Eyes…………”Tonight Matthew I am going to be………”

The Curse of Erzurum

During the week at least four competitors were hospitalised with food poisioning and most teams had one or more members down with Montezuma’s Revenge, (Ewan McDonald have a scarey moment when giving ice followed by a quick sprint to the toilets) the Finnish lead returned from being treated for food poisioning only to be carted back to hospital the following day after severing a tendon in her hand on broken glass (they won the bronze with three players). The Austrian lead fainted on the ice and on the last day we discovered our Turkish tour guide had fallen over a step and broke her ankle. We emerged fairly unscathed. I had a sore throat and lost my voice for a couple of days but I think I picked that up in the plane on the way to Istanbul, Johnjo had a dicky tummy for a day and a sore knee after a spectacular trip over the hack and Robin found he was a bit breathless, but he put it down to his big belly crushing his lungs when he sat down in the hack. Haz on 40 fags a day was the picture of health.

But at least the sun shone and I went go karting for the first time ever. But Haz accused me a being a ‘Noddy’ driver having overtaken me twice.

Quite a week as always summed up by the fact that when we finally discovered Erzurum had a Burger King we nearly burst into tears of joy.


It was a different curlers on tour experience, certainly, but always an honour to represent Ireland.

Opening Bonspeil 2012 – results

Held at Lanarkshire Ice Rink in Hamilton on Sun 7th October 2012.

This is the ICA members main opening bonspeil of the season and a chance for all members to get together and catch up on events throughout the summer.

For this bonspeil, attending members were divided up into six rinks who are drawn to play against one other rink.

PJ Wilson, Yvonne Chalmers, Ron Paterson & Maureen McCullough
Christine Furey, Geoff Orr, Fiona Turnbull & Elizabeth MacKay
PJ Wilson’s team won 13-3 and is the overall winner
David Smith, Charlotte Tierney, Christina Graham & Pat Wood,
Carolyn Hibberd, Jim Winning, Sharon Graham & Bill Radcliffe
David Smith’s team won 4-3
John Graham, Gillian Drury, Mary Radcliffe & Steve Callan
Tony Tierney, John Burns, Susan Scotland & Isobel Fyfe/Kathie Nixon
John Graham’s team won 6-5

EMCC Louise’s Blog: 2012-10-04

Game 7 v Russia: 5-3 win

In what would turn out to be their final game at the European Mixed Curling Championships here in Erzurum in Turkey the Irish team of Robin Gray, Louise Kerr, Johnjo Kenny and Hazel Gormley Leahy fourth win in the competition left them with the same ranking as Switzerland and the team were convinced that the record would be good enough to take them into the post round-robin challenge for the final two quarter final places but chief umpire Dor Bothwick said no as Switzerland ranked above Ireland having beaten them in the round-robin.

The team played more consistently in this game and , despite having to deal with a ten-minute power cut at one point, went into the last end with a comfortable two shot lead. But the pressure was on when the Russians got two shots locked in the house with a guard out front. Johnjo peeled the front guard but Louise Kerr with her first stone jammed the guard. When the Russians put on a second guard the only shot left was the raised double take out which Louise thankfully nailed with her second stone. The stunned Russkie fourth played a draw into the house which was a simple take out for Robin Gray for the win.

Game 6: 5-4 loss to Sweden

It was another heartbreaking loss here today for the Irish at the European Mixed Curling Championships here in Erzurum, when the team went down by one shot to Sweden after skip Robin Gray´s last stone draw an inch too far. The team had a roller coaster road during the game from the first end when Robin had to draw against a four. Singles were exchanged for the first few ends but a big mistake by the sweepers in the sixth end meant that the team scored a one when most of the house was open.

The last end was the killer as the team only had to keep the four foot clear for Robin´s last stone but when Louise Kerr just shaved the guard moving it but leaving some cover, the Swedish skip pounced. He drew to the back of the four foot and Robin followed him in for shot. The Swede then froze against that stone leaving Robin with the same shot as his first one but, despite furious sweeping, it just drew a inch too far to the wrong side of the shot stone, rolling a fraction off the shot stone leaving the Swedish shot lying.

Skip Robin Gray said “Shattered to lose a game to the best team in the competition and a perfect freeze from the opposition skip that he would make only five per cent of the time, left us with an extremely difficult shot which with hindsight, we perhaps should have played a cold draw to the pin. Congratulations to our team though who played a fantastic game this morning.”

European Mixed Championships 2012 Results

Robin Gray (skip); Louise Kerr (third); Johnjo Kenny (second); Hazel Gormley-Leahy (lead).

Our Irish squad went to Turkey to take part in the European Mixed Curling Championship in Erzurum
Turkey from 30 Sep – 6th Oct 2012.

There were 24 teams,split into 3 groups – blue, green & red, competing. Ireland in the red group.

Schedule of play was:

Mon 1st Oct 12:30am Slovenia (Gregor VERBINC)   won 8-3,
Mon 1st Oct  7:30pm France (Sandrine LEVEQUE)   won 9-4,
Tue 2nd Oct 12:30am Scotland (Ewan MACDONALD)  lost 8-4,
Tue 2nd Oct  7:30pm Italy (Alessandro ZISA)     won 8-2,
Wed 3rd Oct  9:00am Switzerland (Martin RIOS)  lost 8-3,
Thu 4th Oct  8:30am Sweden (Rickard Hallström) lost 5-4,
Thu 4th Oct  3:30pm Russia (Roman KUTUZOV)      won 5-3.

Team Ireland finish up 3rd equal with Switzerland in the red group, but narrowly missed out on the quarter finals due to ranking.

EMCC Louise’s Blog: 2012-10-03

Game 5 v Switzerland: 8-3 loss to Switzerland

In the early session here today in the Erzurum curling arena, Ireland´s mixed curling team went down to the current European champions in what was a difficult game. As skip Robin Gray commented afterwards, that the team needed to be more consistent with basic shots to compete at this level.

EMCC Louise’s Blog: 2012-10-02

Game 4 v Italy: 8-2 win for Ireland

After the disappointment of losing their first game in the morning the Irish team came roaring back with a solid performance against Italy. The team of Robin Gray, Louise Kerr, Johnjo Kenny and Hazel Gormley-Leahy had control of the game from the beginning, scoring a three and a two in the first two ends. The Italians had the chance of a four in the sixth end after the Irish got into a guddle but the luck of the Irish held out and he jammed the Irish stone he was hitting onto his own stone giving up the shot.

Game 3: 8-4 loss to Scotland.

It was all going so well too. Ireland´s mixed curling team were 4-1 up on Scotland at the five end break here at the European Mixed curling Championships in Turkey, but the loss of four shots at the fifth end saw the might of the Scottish foursome ease into another gear. In the sixth end Robin Gray´s draw for a one to tie the scores was slightly too long and after his hit for a one at the seventh swung too far, it was handshakes.
The team are still confident of getting more wins but this was a game that they could have won if they had been paying more consistently

EMCC Louise’s Blog: 2012-10-01

The Irish Mixed team of Robin Gray, Louise Kerr, Johnjo Kenny and Hazel Gormley Leahy got their second win in the European Mixed Championships when they beat France 9 – 4.

This was a more patchy performance than the earlier game. A two in the first end and a big four in the sixth end – which would have been a 5 if Robin Gray´s last stone had not picked up. They still have not yet been taken to the full 8 ends.

Game 1 v Slovenia: 8 – 3 for Ireland

Ireland got off to a good start in the European Mixed Curling Championships here in Erzurum, Turkey. This was despite losing a three at the first end. The Irish team had played a steady end but the Slovakian ship played a great two stones to get his deuce.

However, after that hiccup Ireland were totally in control of the rest of the game and were never really under any real pressure. After scoring two twos and singles in the next four ends there were handshakes offered.

Skip Robin Gray said: “It was good to get a win in the group of death as God knows where the next one will come from.”