Ireland Stumble on Georgian Steppe

The third round proved anything but charming as Ireland dropped their first point of the season with a 2–2 draw against bottom-placed Georgia in the Pandanet Go European Team Championship. The evening started well, with Gavin Rooney and captain Philippe Renaut winning by wide margins on Boards 3 and 2. But then things started to unravel as Karl Irwin failed to appear for his late start on Board 1. As John Courtney fought a desperate rearguard action on Board 4, rumours began to circulate that Irwin was unconscious in a Beijing shebeen, sleeping off the Lunar New Year celebrations. Despite gains deep into endgame, John came up five points short and Georgia notched their first point of the thirteenth season. To add insult to injury, the United Kingdom triumphed 3–1 against Norway, and will move to the top of the table as Ireland are penalised for leaving Board 1 vacant.

An ashen-faced Philippe Renaut tendered his resignation while angry and frustrated supporters booed in the stands. Declining his offer, President Niall Tuohy called for a nationwide period of calm and self-reflection as the team prepares for a potentially decisive fourth round match against the UK on February 14th.

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