Fochabers PC hosted the 2014 Celtic Challenge on 3rd and 4th May. The main sponsor was Diageo.
The players arrived to a warm welcome at the piste with nibbles and refreshments – a chance to practice and renew acquaintances.
After a welcome by Colin, Shirley and Linda Mellis from Diageo, play commenced at 9.00 am on the Saturday morning with the Scotland A & B teams up against each other, while Ireland faced Wales. The round ended after 11, with 2 games going beyond the 2 hour mark, with Wales in a narrow lead, closely followed by Scotland A & Scotland B.
The results of the first 4 rounds of matches were: Scotland A 11-5 Scotland B, Wales 10-6 Ireland.
Play continued in the afternoon in the sunshine although no team managed to dominate Scotland A managed to extend their lead and Scotland B had pulled themselves into 3rd place. The standings at the end of the first day’s play were: Scotland A 16, Wales 13, Scotland B 10, Ireland 9.
Sunday morning arrived with the threat of showers in the weather forecast and everyone hoped for dry weather. Scotland A took the 4 rounds against Wales with a score of 10-6 whilst Scotland B recorded an 11-5 score against Ireland. After 8 rounds the standings were therefore: Scotland A 21, Wales 16, Scotland B 16, Ireland 11. Scotland B were only 3rd by virtue of points difference.
One more round was completed before lunch and then, just as round 10 got going and everyone thought we might stay dry, it started to rain. And rain. And rain. The umpires called a break in play as the rain poured down the piste and flooded pistes 1 & 2 to the point that they were unplayable. Thankfully the rain subdued after around 30 minutes and all but piste 1 was playable. Cue frantic channel digging to attempt to drain piste 1 while play continued on pistes 2-8. By the end of round 10 piste 1 had drained sufficiently to be clear of water, although with all the mud and silt that had been washed down the piste it was very soft.
By the end of Round 11 Scotland A had done enough to win the competition, being 5 wins ahead of second place but the question remained which team, Scotland B or Wales, would finish in second, both were on 22 wins. Wales emerged from the last round with 3 wins to take second place. The final 4 rounds results were: Scotland A 8-8 Ireland, Scotland B 7-9 Wales.
The final standings were therefore:
1st Scotland A 29
2nd Wales 25
3rd Scotland B 23
4th Ireland 19
Congratulations to Scotland A. They will be hoping to retain the trophy when the Celtic Challenge returns to Dublin in 2015.
The SPA would like to thank Fochabers PC and volunteers, Diageo and the other sponsors and anyone else who contributed to a fantastic weekend’s sport and socilalising.