BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE Donegal-Derry Vipers, the first American football team to be set up in the county, held its first training session last Sunday – and organisers were thrilled with the attendance.
Forty-seven prospective players turned up to attend the session conducted by the Vipers Head Coach, Jason Brock, at Aileach FC in Burnfoot.
The Vipers are set to compete in the IAFL (Irish American Football League) in 2015, with the season getting underway in March, meaning Donegal could host its first taste of Gridiron action soon.
Formed by Newtowncunningam’s Cathal Curran and Moville’s James Fox, the Vipers have picked up a big following in recent months, culminating when Brock led a training session last Sunday for almost 50 players.
“We were more delighted than shocked really,” says Curran, whose vision finally came to fruition on a chilly morning in Burnfoot. “The week before the first session I didn’t sleep much at all.”
Everything was riding on it, and a bit of doubt was creeping in for Curran.
He says: “The worst fear I had in my head was seeing James and myself ,Jason Brock, Johnny Loughery and Ryan McKinley standing in the hall with only 10 people there to actually take part
“The attendance we got was very uplifting.
“When we saw a massive queue of cars down the road pulling in, it made the fourt months of work worth while.”
Loughrey has joined as the physio while McKinley is taking care of the strength and conditioning coaching. Brock is an American who is now based in Buncrana.
Curran believes Brock’s knowledge can help the Vipers settle into their new surroundings.
He says: “It comes so naturally to him.
“I think we can learn so much from this guy and this sport, the drills are so tailored to each position.”
Refreshments were provided for the players and coaches afterwards by Curran’s aunts, Geraldine Curran and Margaret McNamee. The IAFL season starts in mid-March and for Curran and his crew that is their ultimate goal.
The IAFL – which uses the NCAA rules, those used in college football in America – includes teams like the Belfast Trojans, Carrickfergus Knights, Cork Admirals, Craigavon Cowboys, Dublin Rebels, Trinity College, UCD, UL Vikings, West Dublin Rhinos, Dublin Dragons, Drogheda Lightning, Meath Bulldogs, Mullingar Minotaurs, North Kildare Reapers, Waterford Wolves, Tyrone Titans, Dundalk Mavericks, Galway Warriors and the South Kildare Soliders.
Add to the list for 2015 the name of the Donegal-Derry Vipers.
Curran says: “The plan for the short term now, as in the next two weeks, will be for the players to learn as much as they can from Jason, including all of the basics and to learn about each other.
“We only have a short time now until our first game, so the players will have to form that togetherness and fight for each other mentality extremely quickly. But with Jason in control, I can’t see this being an issue. As long as we are as competitive as possible and everyone fights for each other then that’s mission accomplished.”
The club has announced a special offer for admission to their three home League games. Patrons can see the Vipers’ three home ties for €10 while children go free.
Curran says: “The season starts in March so it will be on us before we know it.
“For James and myself it is all about the in-house marketing aspect of the club and to get as many people attending the games as possible to support the team.
“We want to make our home games a family fun event with a large fanbase and following. We are also confident of forming a cheerleading team, even though work on this has only begun.”
To purchase a ticket from the club or fore more information, log onto the Vipers’ website www.donegalderryvipers.com or on Facebook, Donegal/Derry Vipers, while the club is also on Twitter, @donegalderryvip
With the Super Bowl and all of its razzmatazz set to grip the coming fortnight, the Vipers might well be getting up and running at just the right time.
Curran says: “Jason’s aim will of course be fulfilling the first fixture and forming a competitive team, not to mention sorting out the prized position of Vipers starting quarter back.
“There are a number of people trying out for this position as expected and Jason has said no decision will be made until he has analysed all the footage from the tryout.”
A MONTH ago, Letterkenny mountaineer Jason Black headed across the Port Bridge on his most dangerous expedition.