Dumfries once again plays host to the Irish Men’s Championship as two teams are set to contest a best-of-three series to determine Team Ireland at the next European Championships.
Defending champions Team Wilson are aiming to defend their crown after retaining Ireland’s status in B-Division at the 2023 Europeans in Perth. Skip John Wilson is once again supported by third Kyle Paradis and lead Craig Whyte. Andrew Gilmore will step in as second instead of James Russell. The team are supported by their coach, Eoin McCrossan. Although they are no strangers to the international stage, they are hungry for more and are excited to get playing. “We always relish a national championship” explains skip John Wilson “and we’re excited to play some good games and try and defend our crown!”.
They will face Team Mathews, led by current Irish Mixed Champion Brian Mathews. He will be joined by 2012 world senior champion Bill Gray as well as previous Irish men’s representatives Arran Cameron and Steve Callan. Brian sprung a bit of a surprise at last season’s Irish mixed to emerge as champion and is happy to do the same again: “I think I play best when there’s no pressure involved and I can just play my game. The team are looking forward to having a good weekend and seeing what happens. It’ll be great!”
The 2024 Four Nations was a successful outing for the Irish Curling Association as they won two of the three trophies they contested, beating Scotland and England, but lost to Wales by a single shot in a tight tussle for the triple crown.
This year’s event was held at the Flower Bowl near Preston, England and a small band of Irish players travelled up, down and across the Atlantic for the chance to represent the association. Things started well for the Irish with two contests against Wales on Friday night. Dale Sinclair skipped the women to a handsome win, with Kyle Paradis doing enough to give Ireland the tie in a loss to the Welsh men. The highlight of the contest was a memorable double to score 2 in the 8th end and send Ireland into Sunday with a 2-shot lead.
Saturday morning was the reverse for the team as Kyle Paradis skipped his men to a big win over England, and Dale Sinclair kept it close in a narrow loss to England that came down to the last shot. Things got better and better for the team with Ross Barr leading the men to a huge win over the Scots and Bernie Gillet lost in the final end to give Ireland the lead in all 3 trophies overnight.
A wonderful dinner and some memorable (if less than wonderful) dancing followed, with the President leading by example as ever with his full dancing arsenal on show.
On Sunday, 6 mixed games would decide the fate of the trophies and the first set of games were against Wales. A strong win for Wales against Kyle Paradis left Ross Barr with it all to do. He did manage to win, but the Welsh knew they had done enough and peeled out the final shot of the game to win the contest overall and retain The Meikle Trophy. A topsy-turvy second set of games against England saw Kyle Paradis take an early lead, only to draw his game and Eoin McCrossan was down 6-2 before coming back to win 7-6. Thanks to the previous day’s results, The Turnbull Trophy was secured for another season. Finally, the Scottish games. Ireland had a 9-shot lead from Saturday and they needed every single one as Scotland had levelled the contest after 4 ends. Ross Barr, pulled a few shots back to limit the damage but the comeback kid of the day, Eoin McCrossan, skipped his team for a 5-0 deficit to win 7-5. The Marshall Millenium Trophy was once again Ireland’s.
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!”
The 2023 European Championships B-Division kicks off this Saturday in Perth, Scotland with Ireland’s men set to take part. The competition, which runs from 18th-25th November, marks the second year the Irish men will compete at this level after a recent successful return. The team of John Wilson, Kyle Paradis, James Russell, and Craig Whyte supported by coach Eoin McCrossan made the playoff round last year and will be hoping for more of the same.
The competition will see 16 teams compete in two groups of 8, battling it out for two promotion spots to next year’s top tier. The top three teams of each group will proceed to the playoffs for the medals and promotion opportunities, whereas the bottom two in each group will battle to avoid the trapdoor that will send two of them back to the C division.
Ireland is in group B alongside recently relegated Spain, England, Wales, Slovakia, and Austria along with promoted sides Ukraine and Liechtenstein. Their first game is against Spain on Saturday at 2pm and their round-robin efforts conclude with their Ukraine game on Thursday afternoon.
Following their golden success at the 2022 C-Division in Lithuania, Ireland’s men travelled to Ostersund, Sweden last season, and with a record of 4-3, made it to the playoff round before succumbing to France in a tight playoff game. This hasn’t changed the focus of the team who know that the competition will be tight.
“Last year our group was so evenly matched that coming into the last game we could have finished anywhere from 7th to 3rd. We know that there’ll be tough competition ahead but we’re feeling good and excited to get going!”
Admission to the event at the Dewar’s Centre, Perth is free and live scores, schedule and team information can be found here.
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
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
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: