Carlow’s Pádraig Amond the toast of Newport

Striker says his next column for Carlow Nationalist will be written with a ‘sore head’

Newport goal scorer Padraig Amond celebrates after scoring the winning goal during the FA Cup third round match against Leicester City. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Newport goal scorer Padraig Amond celebrates after scoring the winning goal during the FA Cup third round match against Leicester City. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

 

A year ago as they watched the win over Leeds United at the same stage of the competition, the majority of supporters at Rodney Parade probably weren’t able to remember the previous time, almost 40 years ago, their club had made it to the fourth round of the FA Cup. For Newport County, though, a new year giant killing is the new norm.

It certainly wasn’t the cup runs that Pádraig Amond moved to south Wales for but after what he describes as the “best worst night’s sleep ever,” he is enjoying another day in the limelight in the wake of the League Two side’s remarkable defeat of Leicester City.

In the fourth round last season, he gave his side an early lead against Spurs. A late winner this time probably tops that but either way, the Carlowman is amassing a nice collection of memories from the competition.

“You work all your career for moments like that,” says Amond of the converted penalty five minutes from time on Sunday. “Thankfully the ball went into the back of the net. It was half two or three o’clock when I got to bed afterwards. I re-watched the game with a few drinks – myself and the missus – and then I was on the radio over here at a quarter past seven. My phone’s been hopping. I’ve had to do a few things I’m not used to doing, but it’s brilliant to be able to chat about it.”

Obliged to play in midfield these days because of a bit of an injury crisis at the club, the striker’s latest big moment came when former Morecambe teammate, goalkeeper Danny Ward, committed himself early and Amond hurriedly changed where he was sending the spot kick.

“I know you are told not to change but he went a little bit early and I was going the same way so I just said; ‘Okay, as long as it’s away from him,’ so it was sort of down the middle because I was thinking to myself: ‘just hit the target’. Happily the celebrations started a few minutes after that.

“Up until that the game was very similar to Spurs last year in that we scored the early goal which was a cross from Robbie Willmott, went in 1-0 at half time and then they scored in the 82nd minute, the exact same as Harry Kane last year and so you are thinking, ‘oh no, here we go again’. And with the injuries we have at the moment, the last thing we needed was a replay.

“But the crowd lifted us and we sort of just went for it in the last few minutes. We did well to win the penalty and then for the last few minutes it was a case of all hands on deck again because this was a second opportunity we were after getting so we had to see it out.

“Watching it back on Match of the Day last night I was still expecting James Maddison’s shot in the last few seconds to hit the back of the net, the angle I was at it looked so close, but at the time that was the moment when I finally thought, ‘yeah, this could it for us’.

For Amond himself, it was goal number 16 of the season, one more already than he managed in the entirety of last year’s campaign and he has high hopes for the remainder of this one. “The plan is to get to 20 as soon as possible and then see where we go from there. Hopefully those goals can get us back up the league and maybe give us a chance of making the playoffs because our form in the league has been a bit patchy.”

In the meantime, though, there is this Monday evening’s fourth round draw to look forward to. Initially, he has no hesitation about who he wants and where he wants to play them: “Man United away” he says emphatically.

“I’m a Shamrock Rovers fan,” he says, when asked if it is because he is a lifelong supporter, “but Man United would be the English team that, if I went over to England, I always wanted to play for and to play at Old Trafford would be brilliant although we’d probably have a better chance of beating them if it was at Rodney Parade.

“Honestly,” he continues, “I don’t mind who we get; I heard a few people saying that knowing are luck we’ll get Barnet or Gillingham or Oldham, another League Two team but that’s probably our best chance of qualifying for the next round so why would we turn that down? It’s brilliant for us just to be able to have that conversation because to be honest with you we should be out of the competition. Wrexhan should have beaten us the first day but thankfully we got away with a replay then beat at home but we got away one there and they will be looking at yesterday a little bit disappointed.”

Before that, there was an away win at the Metropolitan Police which, he describes as “an experience and a half. But we were talking about it yesterday,” he says. “For me this was bigger than Spurs last year because Leicester had won the Premier League a couple of years ago but that this is the beauty of the FA Cup, there was one round between us playing the Metropolitan Police and Leicester City.”

Newport’s run, he hopes, might yet end up being more even remarkable than that.

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