Tyler Toland facing Montenegro in her last appearance for Ireland in 2019. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Father of Tyler Toland hits back at 'ludicrous' Vera Pauw claims and calls on FAI to intervene

The Ireland boss addressed the Donegal teenager’s long-term international absence on a call with the media on Friday.

THE FATHER OF exiled Republic of Ireland Women’s midfielder Tyler Toland has called on the FAI to intervene in a simmering row that is threatening the international career of his daughter.

Maurice Toland says an independent mediator should be brought in following a series of allegations by Ireland Vera Pauw on Friday.

Pauw said that she had been subjected to “harassment and intimidation” by the Donegal man over his daughter’s absence from the Irish squad, claims he vehemently denies.

Toland, capped 13 times at senior level, has not been selected since she was an unused substitute for a game against Greece in November 2019.

Two months later, Toland’s services were sought for the Republic of Ireland under-19s ahead of a double-header against Russia in Marbella in March 2020. Despite the player’s willingness to travel, she wasn’t selected for the trip.

“The only conversation I have ever had with Vera Pauw was in January 2020, but to say that I harassed or intimidated her during that call is ludicrous,” he said.

“I texted Vera and asked when was convenient for her to speak. She called me and we spoke for around half-an-hour.

“I felt that if Tyler wasn’t in the plans for the senior team, it would have been good for her development and for game time to get with the under-19s. And the under-19 manager has contacted me asking about her availability, so this wasn’t me trying to influence or get Tyler selected.”

An email to the player’s father from Ruud Dokter, the FAI’s High Performance Director, in February 2020 acknowledged: ‘It is important that Tyler and Vera have a conversation shortly regarding Tyler’s future with international football.’

“Really, this should have been addressed 18 months ago,” Maurice Toland said.

“From that day to this, Tyler hasn’t been selected on an Ireland squad. Tyler has never declined the chance to play for Ireland and has never said that she would not play for Ireland under Vera.

“Tyler has always given what she can for Ireland. The comment that she needed to show ‘guts’ was below the belt. Remember, three years ago Tyler – she had just turned 17 – played almost an hour of a qualifier against Northern Ireland with two fractures on a knee.

“The FAI should step in here and do something. We know there is a big Dutch influence at the FAI and Irish coaches are afraid to speak up in case their own jobs come under threat.

“Someone has to step in here and get to the bottom of this. Allegations have been made against me — but at the end of the day my daughter and her future is the most important thing here.

“She’s only 18, but has played under Lorraine Counihane, Sharon Boyle, Sean Byrne, Dave Bell, Dave Connell, Colin Bell and Tom O’Connor for Ireland teams.

“Alan Mahon, a former Irish international, was her manager at Man City for a while. All of those people I think would stand over Tyler’s character, which has been savaged by Vera’s comments on Friday.

“The goalposts have been moved so often. At first, Vera said Tyler wasn’t getting enough game time at Man City; then she said the move to Man City wasn’t working out, that Tyler wasn’t the player she was; Tyler went on loan to Glasgow and all of a sudden it wasn’t about game time; now, she has come out and made it about me.”

vera-pauw-attends-the-game Pauw attending a Women's National League [WNL] game at the weekend. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Toland sent the Irish manager a text on 14 April in which she conveyed her wish for a ‘fresh start’, saying: “I feel I have a lot to give. I’m really working hard on my game and I am willing to do whatever it takes to play with you and get back in your team.” At the time of writing, a response had not been received.

Toland made her Irish debut in 2017, becoming the country’s youngest senior player in history. The midfielder had just signed for Manchester City before scoring in a player of the match display against Montenegro.

Pauw was among the attendance at Tallaght when Ireland beat Montenegro, a day before her unveiling as the new Ireland manager.

Toland — now on loan at Glasgow City — was left on the bench for games against Ukraine and Greece in 2019, when certain comments the manager is alleged to have made have been questioned by the player’s father.

Maurice Toland said: “One of the first things Vera said to Tyler came during a physio appointment. She said to her: ‘You think that you have made it? You have a long way to go.’ Tyler acknowledged that; she knew she had, and still has, a long way to go in the game.

“Vera told Tyler that she looked ‘too leggy’, that her legs had got 10cm bigger since she moved to City and suggested that she would pick up an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury ‘by the second week in November’ if she maintained the training she was doing.

“In Athens, Tyler asked for a meeting. Vera said, ‘Not tonight,’ as she was going sightseeing and the following day at breakfast, in front of a large group. After that, Vera questioned Tyler:’ Why aren’t you on my team? I was told that you were the first name on the team-sheet’.

“Tyler felt that she was ‘one of the sharpest’ players at training in that camp, but Vera’s response was: ‘I don’t care how sharp you are in training, you’re not paying me enough respect’.”

When the midfielder’s weight dropped from 63kgs to 57kgs, those close to her concerned about her physical and mental wellbeing.

The player’s father, who played for Finn Harps in the 1990s, said: “It was then we realised how deep that it went. You can see that when you compare pictures from the Montenegro game to a couple of months later.

“This is not about football. At this stage, football is secondary. This isn’t about who’s in a squad or who’s starting in a team — it has gone way beyond that at this point.

“As far as football management goes, it’s entirely a manager’s prerogative who they select for a squad and who they pick on the team.

“You have to respect a manager and the manager’s decision. Sometimes, you may not like a decision, but you suck that up. Respect is a two-way thing. What we have here is about the treatment of a young player who had just turned 18 and moved away from home for the first time.

“Vera spoke on Friday about having feelings — how does she think this leaves an 18-year-old player feeling?

“Vera said Tyler had to call and apologise – apologise for what exactly? She has said that Tyler has made a ‘mistake’, but hasn’t explained that comment.

“She has said that she wants to ‘save’ Tyler’s career, but her actions suggest otherwise.”

When contacted by The42 for comment, an FAI spokesperson said: “We are aware of the discussion around Tyler Toland and her position with the Republic of Ireland senior women’s team.

“This remains an issue between Tyler and our senior manager Vera Pauw, and Vera has our absolute confidence and support in dealing with this in an appropriate and measured manner but this will rightly remain a process that will not be in the public domain.”

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