American Football nomads 'The Vipers' find new home to nest

THE North West of Ireland's premier American Football team the Donegal Derry Vipers have finally found a place they can call home.

By Simon Collins
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 4:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2022, 4:04 pm
The Donegal Derry Vipers take a break.
The Donegal Derry Vipers take a break.

After almost seven years in the wilderness, the nomads can settle into their new surroundings at Judges Road for 2022 and beyond after reaching an agreement with City of Derry RFC.

It’s been a challenging few years for the cross border club who have been without a base since the loss of their traditional home at Drumahoe’s YMCA grounds following severe flooding in 2017.

Founded in 2014 by Cathal Curran, the Vipers have wandered from venues in Letterkenny, Limavady Rugby Club, the Vale Centre in Greysteel, Lisnagelvin and Prehen Playing Fields before finally nesting at their new Waterside residence.

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And the announcement arrives just in time with the Vipers preparing to host their opening home fixture of the 2022 American Football Ireland (AFI) season this Sunday where they will showcase their new surroundings and begin a new era for the club.

Taking on Kildare Crusaders, the Vipers hope to mark a special occasion for the club with a memorable victory.

And chairman, Paul O’Donnell, who described the news as ‘a breath of fresh air’ after years of logistical struggles, believes their new base will ‘reaffirm a strong club identity in the local area’.

“After several years without a home, the Donegal Derry Vipers have taken a huge leap towards securing a pitch with the joint support of City of Derry Rugby,” confirmed the Vipers chairman. “This now reaffirms a strong club identity in the local area, and a focal point for the community to get involved in with The Vipers in one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland.

The Donegal Derry Vipers' search for a new home is finally over.

“This opens up more opportunities to work alongside City of Derry Rugby Club to develop sport within the local area, which will consolidate the Donegal Derry Vipers for years to come.”

Club PRO, Adrian Boyd added: “Securing our new home ground for the 2022 season and beyond has been welcomed as a great success for the club after the last two years. This will allow The Vipers to expand both within the local community and on a competitive level.”

With the search for a new home now over, team manager, Mark Gillen believes the club can concentrate on growing squads and its fanbase.

“There’s a huge opportunity for growth, not only for our club but also involving some of the plans City of Derry have for their club,” said Gillen. “We hope that this relationship can help to boost the growth of both our respective teams.

“The partnership now in place with City of Derry Rugby Club provides a fantastic opportunity for us to establish our home field. Regular home games, training for kitted, flag football and youth football all at one central location in Derry.”

Both the Vipers and City of Derry RFC enjoy a close relationship and it was a partnership which was formed thanks, in part, to the work done by Danny Wright, a member of both clubs.

“Danny reached out about the potential for The Vipers playing their home games at the ground but The Vipers committee saw this as an opportunity where both clubs could work together for mutual benefit.

“The now Multi-sport nature of the facility means that Vipers may be able to pick up some new skills courtesy of the CoD athletes and vice versa.

“For long serving Vipers this is a breath of fresh air. We have always managed to source a location for our home games but it has been over four years since we have had a facility to really call home. Originally starting at the YMCA in Drumahoe before the unfortunate flooding, then moving to the Limavady Rugby club temporarily.

“Everyone at The Vipers is looking forward to our first home game this Sunday, with good weather on the way. We hope the local community comes out to see what the new home of American football in Donegal and Derry has to offer.

“We are hoping that with a regular home field now secured the spectators for each game will start to increase.” Home games are a good family day out and we love to put on a show. With our second game of the season coming up this Sunday against the Cill Dara Crusaders we are looking to lay down a marker of our intentions this season and bring home the win. What better way to Christen our new home field. If you come out to watch you can expect to see lots of scoring and lots of action.”