2023 World Mixed Doubles Qualifier Preview

IT is less than a week since Ireland’s last international competition, but men’s skip John Wilson is back in action with his partner Alison Fyfe as Ireland take on the world in Dumfries to try and qualify for the 2024 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships. The team are once again supported by their coach, Eoin McCrossan.

The Dumfries Ice Bowl plays host once again to 26 teams from around the world who will battle it out for 4 spots to the worlds, hosted next year in Ostersund, Sweden. Ireland are in Group A alongside Germany, India, Kyrgyzstan, Lativa, Chinese Taipei and Ukraine. The round robin phase begins tomorrow evening and runs until Tuesday ahead of playoffs beginning on Wednesday. The top 2 teams in each group will proceed to a double knockout competition. If you can make it to two wins, before you succumb to two losses then you will book your ticket to the World Championships in Sweden.

Qualification this year is particularly important as it is the first step on the journey to the 2026 Winter Olympics. Alison Fyfe, then playing with her dad Neil, earned Ireland an Olympic point in the build up to the 2018 Winter Games, something she remembers fondly: “I remember beating Hungary, who were the current world champions at the time, it probably is still my curling highlight. The great thing about mixed double is it has given smaller countries a chance to dream of the Olympics. There’s a long way for us to go, but you never know when lightning can strike!”. For her partner John Wilson, it is the perfect chance to move on from his experience at the Europeans, “Although we stayed in B-Division in Perth, the week was below our expectations. I’m really excited to be back on the ice so soon especially playing Mixed Doubles. It’s such a fast, fun and exciting format – and I get to sweep!”

Ireland’s first game is tomorrow night at 8:30pm against Germany. You can keep track of the scores here: https://livescores.worldcurling.org/wmdqe/default, watch live streams through Curling Stadium Europe here: https://curlingstadiumeurope.com/home or of course, attend live and in person at the Dumfries Ice Bowl!

Furious fight for Fyfe Trophy

THERE was a real ding-dong battle last Sunday for the Fyfe Trophy, presented to the ICA by the Fyfe family, in memory of John and Isobel Fyfe. It is also the annual ICA Open Championships.

After four games of four ends, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, the winners were the team of Kyle Paradis, Craig Whyte, Steve Callan and Carolyn Hibberd.

The silver medals went to Neil Fyfe, Ross Barr, Frances Whyte and Geraldine Murphy.

The bronze medal went to Eoin McCrossan, Alison Fyfe, John Burns and John Dunlop.

Also skipping teams to the bottom, in descending order, were John Wilson, David Whyte and Bill Gray.

Thanks to our guests who made up the numbers to get six rinks out and thanks to Greenacres for hosting the Irish.

Results:

  1. Quinn (Kyle Paradis): 6 points, 8 ends, +6 shots, 17 shots scored
  2. Martin (Neil Fyfe): 5 points, 10 ends, +3 shots, 11 shots
  3. Harrington (Eoin McCrossan): 5 points, 8 ends, +2 shots, 17 shots
  4. Kavanagh (John Wilson): 5 points, 8 ends, +1 shot, 12 shots
  5. Logan (David Whyte): 2 points, 6 ends, -5 shots, 14 shots
  6. Dana (Bill Gray): 1 point, 7 ends, -7 shots, 11 shots

Profile – Clare McCormick

CLARE has represented Ireland internationally over 50 times, so she gets an updated set of questions to answer, as we know so much about her already!

Name? – Clare McCormick aka Forbes
Age? – Ancient 
Occupation? – Retired 
In-turn or out-turn? Yes
Best ever curling memory? – Bronze medal 
If you had had to switch careers, what job would you have done? -Gardener

Best / worst subjects at school? – Art
Who’d be your four ideal dinner guests? – 
Earliest curling related memory? ­–
Favourite curling destination and why? – Chambéry. Cheeses and chocolate ( and being an honorary Barr)
How do you relax away from work (and curling)? – 
The person you most admire, alive or dead, and why? – 
What did you have for breakfast this morning? -Sausages 

Profile – Brian Mathews – Ireland skip

It’s back folks! Profile time. Let’s all find out a bit more about the Irish team at the world mixed in Aberdeen. Starting with skip Brian…

Name: Brian Mathews
Age: 39
Occupation: Accountant
Status: Married
Children: 1 
Years curling: 27 (?)
Home club: Leinster
Favourite sport to watch:  Soccer
Favourite sport to play:  Curling
Who would I like to meet:
Favourite TV show: Simpsons
Favourite holiday destination: Hawaii
Favourite Irish curler:  Johnjo Kenny (thanks for being our coach!)
Most prized possession: My daughter, Aoibhín
Marooned on a desert island with: A boat
Me in five words: Proud father, husband, musician, curler

World Mixed Curling Championships preview 2023

Team Ireland are ready to go for the first WCF event of the season as Curl Aberdeen plays host once again to the 2023 World Mixed Curling Championships. Ireland are represented by Brian Mathews, Clare McCormick, Jason Medhurst and Stephanie McDonald after their victory in March at the Irish Mixed Championship in Dumfries. 

Below: Brian, Stephanie, Jason and Clare

History will be made as it marks the first time that the ICA is represented by a team with 3 members based on the island of Ireland. In addition to this, it will be Brian and Jason’s international debuts.

We asked Brian a few questions ahead of the worlds:

ICA: “How did you get involved with the ICA?”

Brian: “When my wife and I first decided we would move to Ireland around 2018, I looked into whether curling existed there, and found the ICA.  Separately and coincidentally, I met Jason at a summer league game in Oakville, Ontario in 2019, and when I mentioned my impending move he mentioned he was also going to be in Ireland.  I made the move in early 2020, and after some painful COVID delays, I was finally welcomed with open arms to my first ICA event in Edinburgh in 2021.”

ICA: “How did you form this team?”

Brian: “Stephanie first approached Jason and Brian to put a team together, but the group struggled finding a fourth player.  Fortunately, at the Four Nations event in Aberdeen, while we were sitting around a table at the dinner banquet and discussing our lack of progress, John Wilson spoke up and said “Clare doesn’t have a team, she’ll play with you, right Clare?”  It was a perfect match, and who could have guessed that fate would have us back in Aberdeen only eight months later representing Ireland at the Worlds!”

ICA: “What chance have you all had to prepare for the world championships?”

Brian: “Well, we’ve had months to watch ourselves back on YouTube from Dumfries (and the view count continues to rise).  We had a great weekend session in Greenaces with Johnjo,  and Clare was lucky enough to get in a few games during the week, plus an extra practice session.  Enough to shake off the rust and get excited to curl again.”

ICA: “Finally, what are your hopes for this week and what team are you most looking forward to playing?”

Brian: “Our main focus is to enjoy the experience.  It’s such a great opportunity to get to take part in a Worlds, so we’ll do our best to enjoy everything both on and off the ice.  I think Brian, Jason, and Stephanie are hoping we can make the playoffs and get a chance to play against Canada!”

34 teams head to Aberdeen for an initial round robin phase in four groups from Saturday to Thursday before playoffs begin on Friday for the top 12 teams. Ireland are in group A along with Israel, Belgium, Netherlands, Japan, England, hosts Scotland, Wales and Sweden. They begin their campaign early on Saturday morning against Israel at 8am before the rest of the group – and the home nations – await!

Streaming for the event is available directly from the WCF website here:

Opening bonspiel at Geenacres

THE first ICA game of the new season took place at Greenacres Ice Rink today with four rinks on the ice.

Neil Fyfe’s team were the winners after a victory over Arran Cameron’s team and in the other game David Whyte’s rink got the better of Alison Fyfe’s foursome.

Great to get back on the ice and wonderful to see friends old and new there.

Pictured are winners Maria O’Neill, Charlotte Tierney, Neil Fyfe and John Dunlop

Opening Bonspiel 2023-2024 season

THE Irish will gather at Greenacres Curling Cub for the opening bonspiel of the new season tomorrow at 12 noon.

Four teams are taking part and here they are:

Arran Cameron                 vs           Neil Fyfe

Frances Whyte                                 Charlotte Tierney

John Burns                                        John Dunlop

Russet Fullarton                               Maria O’Neill

David Whyte                      vs           Alison Fyfe

Christine Furey                                 Louise Kerr

David Hume                                      Ari Furey

Eleanor Burns                                   Trish Boult

Bill Gray MBE

THE Irish Curling Association is immensely proud tonight of our secretary and good friend Bill Gray, who becomes a Member of the British Empire in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Bill playing for Ireland in the World Senior Curling Championships in Gangneung, Korea in April

Bill has been recognised with the Honour for his sterling work as Chairman of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, for services to Agriculture, to Charity and to the community in Scotland.

Bill said tonight: “To say that I am incredibly honoured and humbled to have received this award is a massive understatement.

“It is as much for the incredible people that I have worked with through my agricultural career as it is for me and I will be forever grateful for their support.”

Bill (above) during his term as Chairman of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

Bill’s citation reads:

William (Bill) Gerald Gray MBE, 63 years old, Midlothian

Chairman, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. For services to Agriculture, to Charity and to the community in Scotland

● In 2019, he was appointed Chairman of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, following 4 terms as a volunteer Director, 14 years as a director and 3 as chair.

● Joining RHASS he has brought a board of 59 trustees and 16,000 memberships.

● Due to Covid-19 the Highland Centre Ltd was closed meaning that £1.5M of the charity’s income was lost. Under his efforts, an unprecedented fundraising campaign was developed raising over £600,000 in record time.

● He was then recognised by independent consultants as leading one of the fastest and most successful membership campaigns ever.

● The society has seen huge financial losses during the pandemic, however he single-handedly brought in revenue to the site from a public company which raised over £700,000 income over two years.

● He did this while he was a full-time employee of a farming business of 660 hectares and many estate diversifications while also supporting all activities of DEFRA.

● He was a project director of the new membership pavilion at the Royal Highland Centre which received a very positive response when used at this year’s Royal Highland Show.

● In 2021 he met with the government and stakeholders and worked very hard with his team to help take RHS online. In under 80 days, the Society delivered 7 days of 12 hours of action from behind closed doors, reaching over 100 countries which put RHSS back on the map.

● He was later recognised as Arable Farmer of the Year in Scotland in 2021.

● He plays an instrumental part in the development of new farming talents. He partnered with a neighbouring farm to become one of the Scottish Government Monitor Farm projects, where he worked alongside a young farm manager to help develop a highly successful project regularly attracting between 60-100 farmers to share best practice.

● It went onto being Farmers Weekly Farm Manager of the year.

● In June 2022, the RHS returned where he delivered one of the most important shows in history.

● He is also a supporter of the Royal Highland Education Trust, a charity that opens rural Scotland to thousands of schoolchildren.

● He has delivered significant improvements to the farming estate, diversifying business, adopting renewable technologies, developing new income streams, and driving innovation.

● He is Director and Former Chair of the Lothian Machinery ring coop, which works to save farmers money through pooling of resources and combined buying power.

● He was instrumental in establishing routes to economies of scale and commercial buying power.

● He was the Past Chair of Dalkeith Show, a show in Midlothian which promotes food and farming to the local community, he also served his local community as a community councillor.

WELL DONE BILL AND HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS FROM ALL ICA MEMBERS!

C League bronze for Ireland

CONGRATULATIONS to Ireland’s women who won bronze medals in the European C League this afternoon at Dumfries Ice Bowl.

Coached by Eoin McCrossan, the Irish women, Ailsa Barron, Alison Fyfe, Jen Ward and 17-year-old Erin Furey, beat Portugal 9-6.

Well done our girls! Everyone in the ICA is very proud of you.

Ireland out at quarter-final stage

BOTH Irish teams at the world seniors in South Korea exited the competition at the quarter-finals stage yesterday.

The women had a hell of a battle with the Japanese team, with Irish skip facing a tricky draw to the pin for the win after the Japanese skip’s last stone, which was supposed to be a guard, crept into the house to sit just behind the pin. Dale’s stone was a foot too heavy and, despite frantic sweeping to curl it over on top of the shot, rubbed off it and to the side.

The game had been carefully managed by the Irish to ensure last stone in the last end. But the first end looked like going horribly wrong when the Japanese, who had hammer, looked like getting four. Thankfully the good hitting skills of the Irish, with a crucial last double take-out from Dale changed the end and the Japanese decided to blank. They then took a single in the second end

After taking a two in the third and forcing the single in the fourth, the Irish blanked the fifth and took a well worked two in the sixth. In the seventh, the plan was to force again but a couple of missed hits left Japan an easy draw for two.

In the last, Japan got guards up that the Irish could not get rid of but the path to the four foot was open at the end. Unfortunately, the Japanese got in there first, albeit unintentionally.

The Irish men on the next sheet came off worst in a bruising encounter with Canada.