Despite overwhelming difficulties, football has survived, even thrived, in Derry, second city of Northern Ireland. After a gap of 13 long years out of the senior game, Derry City have been competing with teams from south of the border in the League of Ireland since 1985.
For 2017, the Candy Stripes are based further north of the border, way up into County Donegal in the Republic. Buncrana in Inishowen hosts Derry’s home games at Maginn Park while City’s Brandywell Stadium undergoes a £7 million redevelopment. The arrangement may extend for the year.
The situation depends on progress at the club’s home on Lone Moor Road, close to landmarks such as the Free Derry Corner and the Bloody Sunday Monument.
Football has been played here since 1900. Derry City moved in shortly after their foundation in 1928.
It is not yet clear where Derry will be hosting Europa League fixtures in summer.
Buncrana is 24km (14.5 miles) north-west of Derry via the A2/R239, a drive of 40min.
City Cabs Derry (+44 28 7126 4466) quotes £16 for the journey. For a Buncrana cab, West End Taxis (074 936 2198) is based near the ground.
John McGinlay runs two buses every day (€20 single, €30 return, reservations not required) to Buncrana Supervalu store on Cockhill Road from Dublin Hugh Lane Gallery/Parnell Square North via Dublin Airport and Derry Water Street, overall journey time 4.5hrs. The last one back is at 4.30pm.
McGonagle runs the No.956 service from Derry Buscentre in Foyle Street to St Mary’s Road in Buncrana, close Maginn Park, hourly up to 6.10pm, two buses on Sundays. Ulsterbus (No.181) has two services a day, Mon-Fri, the last one at 5.40pm.
For Dublin-Derry, Bus Éireann (No.33)/Ulsterbus (No.U274) have 5-6 buses a day, journey time 4hrs. There’s a midnight service back from the Ulsterbus depot, Foyle Street.
Go Visit Donegal has hotel information for Buncrana.
Visit Derry has local hotel information there.
In Derry, the four-star Maldron is close to the bus station, with 90 rooms, a gym and sauna. Its Lyric Bar shows TV football. Also nearby is superior B&B Townhouse No.8 http://no8thetownhouse.co.uk/. Waterfront four-star City Hotel Derry, with a pool and gym, offers attractive weekend breaks.
Saddler’s House on Great James Street is convenient, comfortable and affordable. Breakfast is a feast.
For bars near Maginn Park, see Derry City.
In Derry, pubs surround the Richmond Centre mall. Football is screened in one of the three bars that comprise the historic River Inn, revamped in 2016.
For an old-school community pub, The Derby on Great James Street is a revered spot with TV football.
Across the Foyle, near the train station, the Glen Bar (28 Dungiven Road) has become a real football haunt with two big screens and a full schedule.