After almost seven years in the desert, nomads can settle in their new surroundings at Judges Road for 2022 and beyond after reaching an agreement with the City of Derry RFC.
The past few years have been difficult for the cross-border club, which has been without a base since losing its traditional home on the Drumahoe YMCA grounds to severe flooding in 2017.
Founded in 2014 by Cathal Curran, the Vipers moved away from the venues of Letterkenny, Limavady Rugby Club, Vale Center in Greysteel, Lisnagelvin and Prehen Playing Fields before finally nesting in their new Waterside residence.
And the announcement comes just in time as the Vipers prepare to host their home opener of the 2022 Irish American Football (AFI) season this Sunday, where they will showcase their new surroundings and start a new era for the club.
By taking on Kildare Crusaders, the Vipers hope to mark a special occasion for the club with a momentous win.
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 region”.
“After several years without a home, the Donegal Derry Vipers have taken a big step towards securing a ground with the joint support of City of Derry Rugby,” the Vipers chairman confirmed. “It now reaffirms a strong club identity in the region and a focal point for the community in which to become involved with The Vipers in one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland.
“It opens up more opportunities to work alongside the City of Derry Rugby Club to develop the sport in the region which will solidify the Donegal Derry Vipers for years to come.”
Club PRO, Adrian Boyd added: “Securing our new ground for the 2022 season and beyond has been welcomed as a great achievement for the club after the past two years. This will allow The Vipers to grow both within the local community and on a competitive level.
Now that the search for a new home is complete, team manager Mark Gillen believes the club can focus on growing the squads and its fanbase.
“There is a huge opportunity for growth, not just for our club but also for some of the plans the city of Derry has for their club,” Gillen said. “We hope this relationship can help drive the growth of both our respective teams.
“The partnership now in place with the City of Derry Rugby Club gives us a fantastic opportunity to establish our home ground. Regular home matches, training for kitted, flag football and youth football, all in a central location in Derry.
The Vipers and City of Derry RFC enjoy a close relationship and it’s a partnership that has been formed thanks in part to the work done by Danny Wright, a member of both clubs.
“Danny spoke of the potential for the Vipers to play their home games on the pitch, but the Vipers committee saw this as an opportunity where the two clubs could work together for mutual benefit.
“The now multi-sport nature of the facility means Vipers may be able to learn new skills from CoD athletes and vice versa.
“For the long-time Vipers, it’s a breath of fresh air. We’ve always managed to find a location for our home games, but it’s been over four years since we’ve had a facility to really feel at home.Originally starting at the Drumahoe YMCA before the unfortunate flood, then temporarily moving to Limavady Rugby Club.
“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 will come and see what the new home of American football in Donegal and Derry has to offer.
“We hope that with a regular pitch now secure, the number of spectators for each game will start to increase.” Home games are a good family day and we like 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 mark our intentions this season and claim victory. What better way to christen our new home ground. If you go out to watch, you can expect to see plenty of goals and plenty of action.