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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Amond out for Leeds scalp in FA Cup

Carlow man says Newport can spring big surprise on Championship outfit

Carlow-born Pádraig Amond, pictured in action for English League 2 side Newport County.
Carlow-born Pádraig Amond, pictured in action for English League 2 side Newport County.

The only minor problem this weekend is trying to find the details of the Welsh TV broadcast of his came so his family back in Ireland can watch.

Otherwise, Carlow lad Pádraig Amond (29) has every reason to look forward to the clash tomorrow between his club, fourth-tier side Newport County, and Leeds United.

Medals have eluded the much-travelled striker in his career but the cup competitions have been good to him, feeding a sense of confidence as a promotion-chasing Leeds side head to Rodney Parade for the third round tie.

"It's my first time in the third round so hopefully the Cup run can go on for a while," says Amond.

"And to me, the magic of the FA Cup is still there. I know the Champions League and Premier League are important but I could never understand why people disrespect the FA Cup.

"I have enjoyed the cup competitions over the years. I got to the FAI Cup semi-final with Shamrock Rovers, I was with Sligo Rovers in 2010, the year they won the FAI Cup, though I left and moved to play in Portugal before they won it, my last game for Sligo was in the FAI Cup quarter-final, and I played in the League Cup final in Portugal.

"So I love the cups. Are Newport County going to win the FA Cup? Probably not, but winning a couple of games can do wonders for the club, and for players too.

"I still see players getting moves off the back of a couple of games in the FA Cup, it's as if the last 23 league games are forgotten about and if you do well in one FA Cup game on the TV, you catch the eye and might get a move."

Pádraig Amond in action for Shamrock Rovers against Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo during a friendly back in July 2009. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Pádraig Amond in action for Shamrock Rovers against Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo during a friendly back in July 2009. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Though they avoided Premier League opposition, Leeds at home is a good draw for the boys at Newport. "They are still a massive club," says Amond. "There's always been a strong link there between Leeds and Ireland, back to the Giles days, I still see them as one of the biggest clubs in England, so it's great for us to play them.

"We played them in the League Cup earlier this season, at Elland Road. I only signed for the club that day so I wasn't eligible, we lost 5-1 so it would be good to play them today.

"It's a free shot for us as no one expects us to win, and if we could get a replay at Elland Road, or win and make the fourth round, that would be massive for this club financially, the money from a Cup run could be the difference between getting promoted or missing out.

"The ground is sold out, the whole place is buzzing with Leeds coming to town, it's a big deal for us and we're confident.

"Even though Leeds beat us 5-1 in the League Cup a while back, we were winning 1-0 and missed chances to go 3-0 up, the game could have finished 5-5, so although they are a few leagues ahead of us, we have a chance."

Amond only joined Newport County, from Hartlepool United, last summer and although success was not instant, with a 14-game goal drought, things have gone well of late, Amond scoring twice in the last two games and he has Leeds in his sights, the 29-year-old happy in Wales.

"It's a good set-up over here. We average 4,000 fans for every game: if you take Cork City out of it, that's bigger than any club back home. I loved playing in the League of Ireland and I still watch the matches on TV and check the scores, but it's so much more stable over here.

"Clubs are more stable, contracts are longer, wages are better, and that's why someone like Patrick McEleney leave the league to play for the likes of Oldham and I can see more players like him coming over to play in the lower leagues here, it's just a fact of life."

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