From 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday Sarah Skehan is a technical writer for a well-known medical device company, but three times a week she straps on her roller skates and trains hard with other women of Limerick Roller Derby.
“It’s a full-contact sport,” she explains, “best described as rugby on roller skates without a ball.” Limerick Roller Derby is an established league currently celebrating 5 years in operation in Limerick. The team is ranked third in the country (Dublin and Belfast hold the top two rankings) and 88th in Europe out of 400 leagues across the continent. “We are completely self-funded by league members and fundraising. It’s really all about ‘by the skater, for the skater’ which is the motto of our governing body the WFTDA,” (Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association).
“There’s about 40 people in the league. We each have our different roles running the committee. This year we have a lot of games coming up in Wales, Paris and Berlin but we are struggling to find a venue for home games. We feel it is important for the league to show the community what we do.”
When asked how roller derby contributes to Limerick culture Sarah highlights the strong community of fantastic people, “There is definitely a sense of community. Most of us didn’t know each other outside of derby. It has introduced us to a lot of people from different walks of life, different countries, different counties.” Roller derby brings people together in a celebration of alternative sport and alternative culture.
“Should Limerick win the 2020 bid it would be great to see roller sports getting involved, not just derby, but skate boarding too. We would love to be able to host an All-Ireland tournament which would benefit local tourism. We could bring ten squads of players and track staff here from all over the country.”
Outside of the roller derby world Sarah would like to see more gigs coming to Limerick, “I just went to the Coronas in King John’s castle and it was amazing. We should use King John’s castle more as a venue and Thomond stadium. I think if we won the bid it would really put our name out there in Europe.”
Limerick Roller Derby are currently holding a recruitment drive for interested parties to come play or officiate in roller derby. The men’s team, the Pigtown Boys are looking for male skaters especially. The club will celebrate its fifth birthday with a table quiz and party at Dolan’s on May 28th. www.facebook.com/LimerickRollerDerby