FA Cup hero Amond’s dream moment arrives

Padraig Amond had opportunities to return to Ireland a couple of years ago when he found himself dropping down the leagues in England.

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Padraig Amond extended his term with Newport County this season. He is pictured with CEO Alex Tunbridge (left) and manager Michael Flynn

Padraig Amond had opportunities to return to Ireland a couple of years ago when he found himself dropping down the leagues in England.

The former Shamrock Rovers striker had contact with league champions Dundalk and Linfield up north, while the Hoops had also enquired about his availability.

He had spells with Home Farm and Crumlin United in his teens, teams that broke up due to players going to England while he stayed in Ireland with Rovers.

Having finally got there, he chose to slug it out with non-league side Grimsby Town and work his way back up the ladder, first with Hartlepool United and, now, Newport County.

That decision has been vindicated more than once and, after coming desperately close against Tottenham last year, he fired his side to victory over Leicester City in the FA Cup on Sunday.

It was Amond’s penalty five minutes from time, after the 2015-16 Premier League champions had equalised three minutes before, that sealed a deserved 2-1 win for the League Two side.

The former Home Farm and Crumlin United schoolboy must have thought ‘here we go again’ three minutes earlier when their early opener was cancelled out by Rachid Ghezzal’s rocket.

Harry Kane had forced home a leveller in the same minute – the 82nd – 12 months earlier after Amond had opened the scoring, and Spurs won the replay at White Hart Lane.

This time there would be no late reprieve for the Premier League side and, for a lower-league striker like Amond, scoring the winner in a cup tie is as big as it gets.

“That’s the type of moment you dream about growing up,” a beaming Amond tells the Dublin Gazette.

“You practice those penalties. It’s the same with anything, with Gaelic football or hurling or whatever, you practice the free in the last minute to win the All-Ireland final.

“You would have practice penalties for the FA Cup final. Granted, it wasn’t the FA Cup final, but Sunday night was like our FA Cup final.

“You’re playing the Premier League champions from a couple of years ago, who have Premier League winners all over and England internationals.

“To score the winner was a fantastic feeling, and it was just brilliant to win the game after the disappointment of not beating Tottenham last year.”

Amond recently triggered a year’s extension to his deal in south Wales, and he couldn’t be happier with the decision-making that led him to Rodney Parade.

“It was the right decision to stay over here. You want to play full-time football and, unfortunately, back in Ireland there’s only a couple of teams that can guarantee that.

“If it doesn’t go right there, you’re back to part-time.

“I want to be involved in football as long as I can, and I want to play at the highest level possible.

“And I still dream I can play at a higher level – I still think I can.

“It’s just about getting that chance, or whether that chance might be with Newport, who knows?

“Between now and the end of the season it’s about keeping the head down and trying to score as many goals as possible, get to 20 goals as quick as possible and see where that takes you.”