For the third consecutive season out of 4 years, the Donegal Derry Vipers are in the playoffs and hosting a semi-final for the 2nd consecutive year. This time in Limavady cricket & rugby club on the 29th July 2018 (2pm kickoff) If you looked at the record of the team from the past 3 years you would assume that the Donegal Derry Vipers are a long established team with a history of sporting excellence. Well…. No
It has been a crazy 4 years from the start. The team was founded by Cathal Curran who decided on a whim with no players actually recruited to wing setting up a team in the IAFA having heard about an American Football League in Ireland. After a massive recruitment drive by Curran and some relentless marketing, he managed to grab a head coach and about 50 interested (widely ranging athletically) individuals.
I have played with the Donegal Derry Vipers since the first game ever when we were on the wrong end of a 72-0 blowout, I actually had just joined the team before having heard about the team through a friend who had a friend playing on the team. The first week I joined was the first week before the game and we’d just received pads and the equipment. We’d a lot of fun that week messing around pretending to be NFL athletes and of course the usual slabbering before the game about who was going to score the first touchdown.
Needless to say, based on the spoiler already in the previous paragraph, none of the slabbering actually came true and we definitely narrowed down the squad from the pretenders to the core foundation over the first year which was a brutal first year.
To say we had a trial by fire in our first year would be an understatement as we went 0-5 before winning the final game of the season and finishing 1-5 (Whilst I was in Paris). Since then we had an undefeated season in 2016 – winning the bowl vs the Wexford Eagles, a slow start to 2017 losing to the Rhinos in a swamp 9-8, before finishing the season 6-2 in our first year in the IAFL1 ( The 2nd division in Ireland) We lost the final game of the season in the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion having run out of time in the Mavericks 5 yard line, the Mavericks went on to win the bowl last year and we were left with a lot of should’a would’a could’a thoughts.
It may only be an amateur sport but the sacrifices members of the team have made over the last 4 years have been immense as we’ve suffered just about every sporting injury you can imagine. Blood, sweat & tears have definitely been given in the quest for the SBC and promoting American Football in Ireland as well as playing for the local bordering communities.
In our 4th Season we’ve had a lot of great new players join and the lads who help up our games so much last year have made even further strides. Every year the team loses some key players to injury, jobs & relationships but the machine keeps on rolling.
The team has climbed from strength to strength and now the teams actually looking in great shape despite some key injuries to major players. Those injuries would have tripled the squad in years past but thanks to the committee and attitude of the players, we’ve actually built up serious depth.
In what will likely be my last season with the team (for a few years anyway) whilst I work on my own business and get settled somewhere with my soon to be wife, I’m hoping we can finish stronger than last years result when we inevitably came up short.
A trip to the bowl is the minimum on everyone’s expectations but we’re not making the same mistake of overlooking our first hurdle this year. We have been caught out before this season and Wexford (The team we beat in the bowl) definitely made the most of it destorying us 35-6 at home. The team has come on considerably since then mentally so we’re ready now for the final stretch.
As it is, we win the semi’s and we’re in our 2nd bowl in 4 years with a chance to win promotion into the SBC which has been the goal from the start. We lose and we’re out. It’s that simple