On Sunday, the table topping Donegal Derry Vipers will play not only their first game in Donegal but the first game of full contact, high octane American Football ever in the county.
With the club's founders hailing from Newtowncunningham and Buncrana, the club has always had a green and gold heart and the in-form Vipers want to share their success with their home county.
As one of the first sports clubs to bridge across the counties and the communities, The Vipers want to set roots in Donegal after a successful Try-Outs event in Letterkenny in January. This will work hand in hand with their base in Derry at The YMCA in Drumahoe, fondly known as The Viper Pit.
The Vipers will welcome The Galway Warriors to Colaiste Ailigh in Letterkenny in what will be the biggest game in the club's history.
A victory for the Vipers will see them achieve something momentous, beat The Warriors and The Vipers are guaranteed to finish at least in the top 2 in the IAFL2 division and with that grasp a place in the Bowl game, with a chance to finish champions of their division and gain promotion.
For a club just 18 months old, playing a ‘new’ sport, in 2 counties known for their sporting talent and history, the future couldn’t be brighter for The Vipers.
In The Warriors, The Vipers face an old enemy, one that they know all too well having matched up against the Galway men three times already in their short history. In their maiden year the priority for The Vipers was to gain the experience and knowledge of the game needed to survive in the sport.
The first ever game between the two clubs in June last year ended in a Warriors victory, beating the Vipers in Derry by a score of 21 – 15.
The final game of The Vipers season would be in Galway, The Warriors were pushing for promotion themselves, winning 3 of their 5 games that season and a win against The Vipers would have been the cherry on top. The winless Vipers had other ideas, with the season sitting at 0-5 the players knew it was now or never, the time for learning was over, the time for winning had begun. The Vipers ran out 17 – 6 winners and in that moment they validated all the blood, sweat and tears that had been shed since the club's formation just 8 months previously.
With that win under their belt the Vipers went into the off-season with a sense of pride that would carry them onto this season. New players, improving veterans, increased coaching staff and dogged determination to keep moving forward sent the club into over drive and they hit the ground running. The Vipers dispatched of The NI Razorbacks (27-0), The North Dublin Pirates (26-6) and once again, The Galways Warriors (24 – 6) as they continued that winning habit to start the season off with 3 Wins and 0 Losses, bringing their winning streak to 4 successive league games.
The Vipers would be forgiven for having one eye on the undefeated Wexford Eagles, the only other team to be 3-0 in their division and their probable opponents if they were to reach the bowl game but all minds are focused on Game 4 against The Galway Warriors.
The Vipers want that win, they want that spot in the bowl game, they want to be promoted and they will run through walls to get it.
This game will have a special feeling for the Vipers Donegal players, 6 foot 6 Tight End Colm Kelly from the Frosses, Safety Pauric Rose from Ballybofey, Full Back Johnny Lynch from Buncrana, Tight Ends Darren Gibson and Thomas Comiskey from Convoy and Buncrana, Wide Receiver Eugene Mc Laughlin from Clonmany, Defensive Line Man Joe Dohery and Chris Tinney both from Carndonagh, Safety Eamon Quinn and Corner Back Maitis Mc Kelvey from Castlefinn and Letterkenny, Corner Back David Doherty and Linebacker Ronan O Conor both from Letterkenny, Defensive Lineman Gavin Doherty and Half Back Cathal Curran from Ballybofey and Newtowncunnigham.
The game is at Coliaste Ailigh, Letterkenny on on Sunday at 2pm.