Tyler Toland leaning on Levante experience as big international week beckons

Tyler Toland (centre) during the 3-0 Nations League win over Northern Ireland in the Aviva Stadium in September 2023

Tyler Toland (centre) during the 3-0 Nations League win over Northern Ireland in the Aviva Stadium in September 2023 Credit: Conor Ryan (ETPhotos)

Macdara Ferris reports from the Ireland training camp

Tyler Toland is back enjoying her football – both at club and international level. The Donegal women struggled to get first team game time when at Celtic and Levante and was left out in the cold with Ireland under Vera Pauw.

Eileen Gleeson was quick to bring Toland back into the fold during last year’s Ireland Nations League campaign – handing her a first start in the green jersey for four years. Back in the Ireland squad and playing regularly with Blackburn Rovers, the 22-year-old is in a good place coming into the start of qualification for EURO 2025.

“it’s brilliant to be back,” said Toland when chatting to the media ahead of Friday’s qualifier in France. “I had an injury (ruling her out of February’s Ireland friendlies), but thank god it wasn’t something serious, just something minor. We’re back and ready to go. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of games.”

While the player had limited game time during her time with Levante, she believes the time spent in Spain was very useful to her – particularly for playing at international level. “Obviously I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to in Spain but experience-wise it was great. 

“It’s very technical there and high intensity, you’re playing with some of the best players in the world - obviously the Spanish are right up there (winning both the World Cup and Nations League in the last six months). I think I took a lot from it. I bring all my experiences back here to the squad.”

She signed for Blackburn Rovers in the Championship last October and is enjoying her time there, both on and off the pitch, plus she is living close to Manchester and Liverpool allowing her to fly home handily.

“I’m absolutely loving Blackburn. It’s been a great move for me, getting a lot of game time. The people are really good and the club’s just been really good for me. I’ve no complaints. I’m really, really enjoying it.

"There’s a few Irish with the men’s team, there’s Sammie [Szmodics] and Connor [O’Riordan] with a few other boys (including Andrew Moran who is on loan from Brighton). 

Much has been made about the difficulty of the EURO draw with Ireland due to face European heavyweights France and England in the next week with Sweden rounding out the group.

“I was excited looking at the draw. I wanted to play against the best in the world. Everyone does, because that’s where we want to be ourselves. To get that experience, to play them in the likes of the Aviva, it’s going to be unbelievable and can only do us good. England have some of the best players in the world. 

“This is exactly where we want to be. We’re Irish and we’re going to be hard to beat. We’re going to do all we can to prepare ourselves.

"Once we step over that white line, we’ll do everything we can for the country. Getting the opportunity to play against the best players in the world is where we all aspire to be, both individually and collectively.” 

The extended Toland clan will be coming down to the Aviva next Tuesday to cheer her on and the player is hoping for another big crowd on Lansdowne Road – close to 36,000 attended the women’s senior team’s debut in the venue last September in the 3-0 Nations League win over Northern Ireland.

“I think there’s a lot coming down from Donegal. It’ll be nice to have some home support in the Aviva Stadium. I think ticket sales are going well and they’ve just released the single tickets as well. Hopefully there will be another big push on that!”