BRIAN MCCORMICK SPORTS
SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH: SEPTEMBER
TYLER Toland became the youngest player ever to line out for the Republic of Ireland Women’s team when she was introduced as a late substitute during their 2-0 win over Northern Ireland at Mourneview Park on Tuesday, September 19.
The Deele College student was just 16 years and 43 days old when she replaced Megan Campbell at the Lurgan venue.
Two weeks ago, the young St Johnston woman made her first start for the Republic of Ireland women’s team as they delivered an excellent away performance in Slovakia to make it two wins from two games in their 2019 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Next up is a trip to the Netherlands to face the European Champions on November 28 for Toland who has been joined on the Irish squad by Milford’s Amber Barrett and Roma McLaughlin from Greencastle.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week, Tyler recalled first hearing that she had been called into Colin Bell’s senior squad.
“Daddy had been in contact with the coach and then I got an email out to say that I was selected on the squad,” she said.
“It was super to be involved and then to get playing was just brilliant. I came on in the 82nd minute.
“Obviously, I was nervous and a wee bit apprehensive but I was delighted to be involved. It’s a great experience to be playing with the older girls,” Tyler said.
Her father Maurice, a former Finn Harps and Fanad United player, and mother Anne Marie were in Bratislava last month to watch Tyler make her starting debut. They’ll also travel to Holland at the end of November should Tyler make the squad.
The talented young midfielder is also a member of the U17 national squad where she is joined by Amy Boyle Carr from Glenties.
The Irish Under 16 Player of the Year in 2016, Tyler also played for the Irish Under 15, 16 and 17 squads last year.
“The draw for the Under-17 Elite Qualifiers is on November 24 so we don’t know yet who we’ll be playing when they start up around March time next year,” she said.
The U17 Elite Stage will be made up of seven groups of four teams with the top seven teams going through to play the finals in Lithuania alongside the hosts.
A fifth-year pupil in Delle College, Tyler has been in camp with the Irish Senior squad for at least a week in each of the past three months. There’s also home-based training sessions so the girls meet up quite a lot.
“The principal (Joe Boyle) and everyone at the school have been very good, letting me catch up whenever I’m away. At the end of the day though it’s up to me to catch up which is for my own benefit,” she said.
Toland has also been lining out for Sion Swifts in the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership while she plays for Maiden City in the U16 Boys National League.
“It’s a really good standard with the likes of Linfield, Glentoran and Cliftonville. We were due to play Linfield this week but the game has been called off because seven of their boys are on International duty,” she said.
“I’ll continue to play in the boys league as long as I can keep up with them,” she smiled.
Tyler’s younger sister Cate (13) is also a talented footballer.
“She’s about three foot taller than me and started playing with Sion Swifts last year. She’s doing well,” Tyler said.
Football has always played an important part in Tyler’s young life and she hopes to progress to the Under 19 National squad next season and to get more game time with Bell’s Senior squad.
Indeed, the Irish head coach who was able to watch her closely during the Women’s Under 17 European Championships in May believes that Tyler is an exceptional young talent.
“She is a player I believe who would benefit from being around the senior squad as we look to progress the young talent we have in Ireland,” he said.
“It’s a great start to the campaign with the two wins over Slovakia and Northern Ireland so now we look to the Netherlands game and take that confidence into that game. It will be another tough game but we’ll look at it and try and come up with another winning strategy,” he added.
Hopefully, Tyler, Amber and Roma will all get the call-up to be part of the Irish squad for the game against the Netherlands at the Stadion de Goffert, Nijmegen, on November 28.
Home games against both Slovakia and the Netherlands follow in April next before they face Norway, home and away, in June. Their final Group 3 match is at home to neighbours Northern Ireland on August 31, 2018.
“It’s just great to be involved and hopefully I can stay in the senior squad. I’m also looking forward to getting back playing for the U17s next year too,” Tyler said.
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