Two Irish-born American footballers, Daniel Whelan and James McCourt, have been signed as undrafted free agents, by the New Orleans and the LA Chargers.
Whelan, a punter who we have written about previously, will link up with the Saints at their training camp, where he will have the opportunity to fight for a place on their roster.
Whelan is originally from Enniskerry, where he lived until he was 13, and played outhalf for St. Gerard’s in Bray.
His family settled in Palm Springs, before he went on to attend the University of California Davis, where his performances for the side earned him a place in the FSC All-American team.
He is an impressive athlete at 6’6’ and 215 pounds, and was eligible for the draft last year but chose not to enter and complete his college degree.
The Saints, whom he wishes to impress, play in the NFC South Division with Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but missed out on the post-season last year.
Hit a 73 yarder today💪🏻🍀 pic.twitter.com/cMye3LFZhn
— Dan (@danwhelan37) January 18, 2021
Dublin-born James McCourt, who is formerly of the University of Illinois, is hoping to earn his place as a kicker on the Chargers’ roster, as he awaits the start of their training camp.
The Chargers also failed to make to post-season last year, as they finished behind both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Las Vegas Raiders in the AFC West Division.
Should either make the final roster of their respective teams, they will become the first Irish-born player to make an NFL roster since Dubliner Neil O’Donoghue.
O’Donoghue was drafted in 1977 by the Buffalo Bills, and went onto play in the NFL until 1985, while also featuring for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The NFL is one of the toughest leagues to make it in and to get on a roster, and if either player achieve their dream, no matter how successful their career’s end up being, it will be a phenomenal achievement.