Ireland Ready for B-League Return

Ireland’s Men are gearing up for the 2022 European Curling Championship in Östersund, Sweden which marks their first appearance in B-Division for a decade. Östersund plays host to both the A and B Division, with international curling returning to the town after the Mixed Doubles and Seniors were staged there in 2018. The Irish gold medal-winning team from Lithuania’s C-Division returns led by skip John Wilson. John is backed up by third Kyle Paradis, second James Russell and lead Craig Whyte. The team will be supported by coach Eoin McCrossan, in their aim to keep Ireland at this level.

The competition consists of 16 teams, split into two groups of 8. The top three teams in each group will proceed to promotion playoffs with a chance to be one of 2 new teams in the 2023 A-Division and at the other end of the standings, the bottom two teams in each group will contest the relegation playoffs to determine the two relegated teams. Ireland are in a group with England, Wales, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovakia, Finland and Estonia.

John is itching to get going,

“I’m nervously excited, I can’t wait to get going – I’m very happy to return to international competition and feeling good to have the gold-medal winning band back together. Our preparation has been good, with Craig and I taking part in the world mixed and then joined by James from LA and Kyle from Belfast in the build-up. We have been working hard to get ready for championship conditions as well as getting a grilling from Coach Eoin on strategic scenarios – so we feel prepared!”

Ireland last played at this level in 2012 in Karlstad, Sweden and for lead Craig Whyte that was his first international experience,

“I’m excited to be back to try and right the wrongs from 10 years ago! I’m looking forward to playing together again as a team and building on the performance and result from May as well as playing some new teams!”

Although there are new teams lying in wait – Ireland’s first game is against Ukraine in a repeat of May’s C-Division gold medal game. The round-robin portion of the competition runs from Saturday to Thursday with playoffs taking place on Friday and Saturday. You can follow the scores on the WCF website here. You can also keep up to date with the scores and show your support on our social media channels.

Successful Season Kick Off at Greenacres

The 2022/23 season kicked off in style for the Irish Curling Association as members gathered at Greenacres Curling Rink for an Opening Bonspiel and Training Day. Members were first put through their paces by guest coaches Colin and Drew who helped members shake off any summer rust with drill stations across three sheets focussing on the line-up, working with a laser and sweeping.

This is the second season in succession that an opportunity to get comfortable on the ice has been offered to members and it was once again gratefully received. One member noted, “I’ve never received any formal coaching since I started using a stick to deliver – so that was really helpful”. Another hoped their good form would carry into the bonspiel “It’s not often I get a chance to just practice – when I’m in a game and a shot goes wrong I don’t have any chance to stop and work out why and work on it… Hopefully, this will mean the game later goes totally to plan!”

The opening bonspiel saw 6 teams keenly contest 3 games for early season bragging rights and prizes. The scores were as follows:

  • David Whyte 13–4 Bill Gray
  • Andrew Gilmore 7-3 Eoin McCrossan
  • John Gilmore 9-7 Ross Barr

Some memorable shots were made (and almost made!) by every team. In particular, we were joined by Jordan and Daniel as guests from Glasgow University Curling Club as well as Geraldine Murphy making her first outing to an ICA event.

President Eoin presents prizes to the winning team – Alison Barr, Nathan Furey & David Whyte.

After the games, President Eoin made the presentations to the winning teams – but that wasn’t all! Following the European Championships C-Division, there was one further presentation to be made. Member John Furey had made the trip out to support both teams in a coaching capacity but was unable to stay for the medal ceremony. Totally unknown to John, Eoin revealed the medal and was delighted to be able to present it. “You’ve really got me there” was all John could muster. Special thanks go to his wife Christine who made sure John was at the rink with no idea of why!

Our next event will take place at Greenacres once again with the Irish Fyfe Trophy Open Bonspiel being staged on 30th October.

World Senior Profile – Bernie Gillett

Ahead of the Irish Ladies team’s trip to the World Senior Curling Championships on 23 – 30 April 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, let’s have a look at one of our player profiles:

  • Name – Bernie Gillett
  • Age – 63
  • Occupation – Physiotherapist and homemaker
  • Status – Married
  • Children – Brian 35, Clare 34, Kevin 33, Sarah 30, Owen 28, Kiera 27
  • Years curling – 25
  • Home club and ice rink – Thornhill Curling Club, Ontario
  • Favourite sport outside curling – golf
  • Who would you really like to meet? – can’t think of anyone!
  • Favourite TV programme? – BBC News
  • Favourite holiday destination and why? – Brazil snorkelling down the Rio da Prata River with an anaconda snake, which fortunately I did not know could be there or I would not have even stepped into the river!!
  • Favourite other Irish curler and why? – Louise Kerr with 100 caps for Ireland – amazing!’
  • You can save one prized possession. What is it? – my possession my phone my lifeline to my kids and all my life.
  • Who would you choose to be marooned on a desert island with? – my husband Tom as I trust he would figure out how to get us off the island.
  • Sum yourself up in five words – Enthusiastic, encouraging, empathetic, respectful, loyal.

2022 Irish Men’s Championship Preview

Two teams will hit the ice in Dumfries to contest the 2022 Irish Men’s Championship. The Ice Bowl will once again play host to the best-of-3 series beginning on Saturday at 11am with game 2 scheduled for 4pm and the final game if required will take place on Sunday at 10am. The winning team will earn the right to represent Ireland at the European Curling Championships C-Division in Vilnius, Lithuania in May.

European Curling Championships C-Division 2021, Geneva, Switzerland

Coming off a fourth-place finish at the most recent C-Division, John Wilson returns at skip with a slightly altered lineup of James Russell, Kyle Paradis and Craig Whyte. John is excited for the challenge of the weekend

“Craig, Kyle, James and I are all looking forward to getting on the ice on Saturday and competing for the opportunity to represent Ireland in Lithuania. To get back on the ice and play competitive curling is exactly why all of us play the sport. Kyle, Craig and I haven’t been on the ice together since Geneva and we are extremely excited to play in an Irish Championship. Dumfries is always a great place to play, the ice is always prepared to an excellent standard and the venue and competition should be a cracker.”

European Curling Championships C-Division 2021, Geneva, Switzerland

Adopting the role of challengers are Team Cameron with skip Arran Cameron backed up by David Hibberd, Steve Callan and Eoin McCrossan. The team are happy to play down expectations as Arran explains

“Well it’s nearly here and Team Cameron are feeling excited for the playdowns. Training unfortunately has been a bit sketchy with events on and off and COVID pings here and there, however we did enjoy competing at both the British Open and the Haggis. The team being located across Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Perthshire doesn’t make for easy logistics but we have enjoyed the craic when we have managed to get together. We go into this weekend as challengers with three of John’s team having competed last year in Geneva and we know we are up against it. We do however feel it’s important for the growth of the ICA to have playdowns where possible and would encourage more to get involved in the future if you can. We are looking forward to some good curling and a few beers with John and his team this weekend”

Scores will be available on the ICA social media channels with a full event write-up available on the website soon after. Good luck to both teams, the long road to Vilnius in May starts with the battle in the bowl!

ICA Opening Bonspiel and Training Day

Thirty ICA members gathered last week at Greenacres to start the season in earnest. To help get members back into the swing of things this was a bumper event with a morning training day preceding an afternoon bonspiel.

The training morning was generously supported by the WCF Development Assistance Program to help the ICA to hit the ground running in their post-pandemic recovery. This was incredibly gratefully received by members of all abilities. “It was such a wonderful opportunity to practice rather than to be thrown into a game” explained member Clare McCormick. Eleanor Burns agreed: “I was just so happy to have the chance to practice after so long, it was really important to get my confidence back”. After getting to grips with the ice, members worked on a number of skills; honing their setups and deliveries concentrating on consistent rotation and weight control. For some members though, the aim of the session was a lot simpler: “I’ve only fallen once – so that’s a success” Steve Callen wryly noted.

With the sea legs re-established; 8 teams took to the ice in the afternoon with some incredible shot-making accompanying some close (and not so close) games. The final scores were:

    Neil Fyfe 10 – 4 John Wilson

    Alison Fyfe 10 – 6 Jen Ward

    JJ Kenny 3 – 12 Andrew Gilmore

    James Russell 9 – 5 David Whyte

That meant that the winning team were Andrew Gilmore, Dave Hibberd, Isla Kinnear and Ari Furey. President Eoin presented the prizes, thanking everyone at Greenacres for keeping everyone safe, fed and entertained and expressed a huge debt of gratitude for the number of members supporting the event. In particular, he welcomed Brian Mathews all the way from Dublin and new member Megan Priestley.

We’re off and away – stay tuned for the rest of season 2021-22!

Euro C profile – Craig Whyte

Name – Craig Whyte

Age – 32

Occupation – Business valuations

Lockdown loath? – Trying to get a tee time on the golf course

Lockdown like? – A 10 second commute to work

Staycation destination? – Cairngorms

Coffee order? – Black

Best curling team to watch and learn from? – Mouat

Any competition superstitions? – Green socks

What will finally break the internet? – The new ICA website