AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Punt pays off for Toland

Loughlain Toland pictured with his wife Merry Jo Toland, after Watertown Red and Black's recent win.
Loughlain Toland pictured with his wife Merry Jo Toland, after Watertown Red and Black's recent win.

A former junior player from the Waterside is using his footballing skills in America - but not for the beautiful game.

Ex-Roe Rovers and Top of Hill Celtic player Loughlain Toland is the kicker for American football side Watertown Red & Black.

The Red & Black are a semi-professional American football team based in Watertown, New York.

Founded in 1896, they are the oldest semi-pro side in the United States and Toland got his break when, after trying to find a soccer team became virtually impossible, a Facebook post came calling looking for a kicker.

“I moved out from Derry, in September of last year and was looking for a soccer team to play with and there was nothing in the place where I live in Watertown New York so nothing really happened,” he admitted.

“So, I didn’t play for a while then I got a job coaching soccer in Syracuse NY and ended up hearing about trials for a team in Syracuse called Syracuse FC.

My wife’s cousin messaged me and said the local semi-pro team are looking for a kicker, so I rang the coach and went to practice, they loved me and they gave me a spot on the team.

Loughlain Toland

“I ended up going to the trials completely out of shape and made it through to the last trial and then didn’t make the team.

“About a month or so later my wife’s cousin messaged me and said the local semi-pro team are looking for a kicker, so I rang the coach and went to practice, they loved me and they gave me a spot on the team.

“Since then I have been their kicker/punter now and I’m really enjoying it.”

Watertown, who play in the Northeastern Football Alliance, currently sit top of the East Conference after winning their opening four games. They face fellow unbeaten side Troy’s Fighting Irish this weekend and Toland is hoping for another victory.

Last weekend, the New York Jets fan, who conceded he had no interest in American football before moving Stateside, played his part in their comeback 59-20 win over Broome; in fact Toland had an impressive 37-yard field goal in the victory.

“I have to admit I had zero interest until I came to America and saw how massive the sport was when I arrived,” he added.

“I’m really enjoying everything about the game, the atmosphere at the games is crazy, they play music between each play and really get everyone pumped up.

“My longest kick in practice was a 50/55-yard field goal, but I haven’t had the opportunity to execute it in the game, but on Saturday night I had a 37-yard field goal, which was great.

“We have another big game this Saturday and hopefully we can make it 5-0.”