Monday 18 February 2019

Cup hero Amond savours aftermath of high-profile penalty success

Padraig Amond. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Padraig Amond. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

At some stage this week, Padraig Amond plans to retire to a darkened room to go through all of the messages he has received since Sunday.

It will take him quite a while. The Carlow man's parents and brothers might have to follow a similar process too, given the volume of contact that has come their way in the aftermath of a perfectly-scripted weekend.

It was an old-school FA Cup tie against Leicester City, broadcast live on BBC. The pain of a successful giant-killing exercise was thwarted by a late equaliser from the Premier League side, similar to the visit of Spurs to Newport 12 months ago.

And then the twist, with the awarding of a late penalty to the League Two underdogs.

Amond seized the ball, ignored gamesmanship from opposing players, and confidently stroked his side into the next round.

Not a bad Sunday afternoon, all things considered.

He went home that night to watch 'Match of the Day' with his partner Caoimhe and ended up watching a full repeat.

The 30-year-old has learned to savour these moments, even the small things such as the frustration on the faces of Leicester players - things he didn't pick up on while caught up in the heat of battle.

"I wanted to see the whole build-up," he explains.

"Gary Lineker, Ian Wright, Alan Shearer. When you have three unbelievable strikers complimenting you on certain things, it's special.

"And to hear the team being praised as well. That's what makes it all worthwhile, and for everyone at the club as well - all the supporters that have been there for years trying to keep the club afloat. This type of thing doesn't happen us every week."

The well-travelled front man is enjoying life with Newport, with 16 goals in all competitions putting him on course for his best Football League tally.

He's been around the block, yet retains the same enthusiasm that has made him popular amongst his peers.

Amond spent most of yesterday obliging to media requests, and that also brought the ex-Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers player into contact with a vanquished opponent.

Leicester's James Maddison had tried to put Amond off before he ran up, helpfully reminding the Newport player about the consequences of missing. Maddison duly sent Amond a Twitter message to praise him for his successful conversion.

"That showed a touch of class," says Amond.

"The other stuff was just gamesmanship, I'd try the exact same myself. It happens every week and there's no badness in it.

"I'd take it as a compliment that someone said something to try and get in your head. Maddison is a top player who will be an English international for years to come; he made such a difference when he came on at half-time. Sometimes you can't get near somebody whose touch and movement is so good."

Amond enjoys the cup challenges because he retains the firm belief that the English lower tiers are stacked with players that would be comfortable at a higher level if they got the breaks.

From a personal perspective, he feels that his lack of pace has cemented perceptions about what level he can play at.

He has already started on his own coaching journey and volunteered to take up a role in the youth department which means he is now helping out with Newport's U-16 side as well as lining out for the first team.

That's added to his appreciation of the mechanics of the game, and manager Michael Flynn has asked Amond to drop into a midfield brief in certain fixtures.

"It's just a case of learning about passing lines," he says. "And knowing when to drop into the right positions when players are going to receive the ball."

The coaching experience has allowed Amond to sample another side of the sport too, and that's the onerous task of releasing youths deemed not good enough for stepping up the extra level.

As someone who has suffered a few setbacks on his journey, it was slightly unusual to find himself on the other side of the table.

"It wasn't a nice thing to do," he said.

"But as horrible as it is, it's something you're going to have to do for the rest of your career if you stay in coaching.

"You have to make hard decisions, and it's just a case of explaining that to the players. To tell them that they shouldn't believe that is it.

"One person's opinion might always be wrong and some players might just be late developers that need to be in the right place at the right time with the manager.

"I said to those kids, 'stick with it, and I hope we're wrong.' I'll be the first person to shake their hand if we are."

After all, Newport know a thing or two about defying the odds.

Irish Independent

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