As Newcastle Roller Girls' first International Tournament, EuroClash, 25-26th March, approaches, we're catching up with all of the teams attending to give a little insight to their 2016, and their plans for EuroClash itself.
Today, we're covering one of the two National Teams which will be rematching at EuroClash: Team Ireland Roller Derby. Team Ireland played at the Road to TBC at the end of 2016, but were exceptionally new at the time. With much more experience under their belts, they'll be competing against Team Scotland again in March, as part of their progress towards the Roller Derby World Cup in 2018. Sara Devine and Lt Damn contributed to these responses for the team.
The Team Ireland training roster came together in 2016 just in time for the Road to TBC. How much preparation did you get in before the tournament?
We had only finalised our training squad 1 month prior to the tournament and managed to get in 1 training session before the tournament.
At Road to TBC, Ireland placed a pretty strong 5th, after two particularly close bouts against Belgium and then Scotland. What lessons do you think you learned from TBC, and how happy were you with your performance?
Overall, I was very happy with our performance at road TBC. The skaters who played the event gelled very quickly as a team and honestly if I didn't know better, I'd have thought they'd been training together for much, much longer.
With Dublin Roller Derby also competing at EuroClash, and forming a significant chunk of your roster too, we imagine that the rest of the Ireland roster will be turning up to cheer them on! But what other teams and matchups are you looking forward to watching over the tournament?
I'm personally really looking forward to watch the newly formed Leeds Roller Derby in action to see what they are capable of. Looking at the line up of teams, it won't matter what game is on, it'll be a good one for those watching so I can't wait to see some great derby.
We know that Team Scotland are working hard on their own roster (which will be finalised before EuroClash) and are planning on bringing an even stronger game to the rematch. How are Ireland feeling about the chance to do this over - and how much do you think you've changed in the last few months of training and experience?
We can't wait to get back on track as a team. The skaters have been working their butts off in training weekends, which will have been hosted both in Dublin and Belfast ahead of Euro Clash. Whilst we know know that Scotland will be out to prove a point after their defeat by us at Road to TBC, we will be ensuring that we focus on our game and the things we can control. I have no doubt that Scotland will be coming at us stronger than ever, so we will need to be on top of our game if we are to have a repeat of the result in Wales last year. This year is already becoming quite full of bouts between National teams - after this matchup with Scotland, do Ireland have any other bouts lined up?
We have been discussing potential bouts but nothing has been added to the calender as yet.
Of course, the ultimate aim for all National Teams is the World Cup in Greater Manchester. In 2014, Ireland placed into the Round of 16 stage, losing to a very strong Sweden; your roster is quite similar this time around, potentially, but with 3 years' more experience, how are you hoping to place in 2018?
We will go into the 2018 World Cup having trained as hard as we could have. We will be as prepared as we can be and will work to place as high as possible. Every team going to the world cup will have something to prove and will be wanting the same thing, so all we can do is focus on our game and work together as a unit in order to have the best chance of success.