Tuesday 19 March 2019

Newport's Irish duo hope to earn spurs at Wembley

Newport’s Pádraig Amond
Newport’s Pádraig Amond

The road to Wembley is a journey to relish, not fear, according to the Irish players at the Welsh club which makes that trip this evening.

To borrow a phrase familiar to the Carlow-born striker in the Newport County squad, Pádraig Amond, there won't be a cow milked in Newport tomorrow.

A large travelling support from Wales are bound for London, hoping that the team can make a mockery of their fourth-tier status and knock Spurs out of the FA Cup in tonight's replay, the first game a 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade where Spurs needed a Harry Kane goal to cancel out Amond's opener.

"It is going to be a great day for the fans going to Wembley and being proud of the team for getting there," says Mark O'Brien, the Dublin-born defender in the Newport side.

"And for the players it's the least we deserve for the season we're having so far.

"We proved at our place that we can be a match for them.

"Obviously it's going to be different circumstances on a different pitch but we're going to enjoy it and we'll be going there looking for the win."

Amond has already played on the Wembley turf, twice in the space of a week, when he was with Grimsby Town. So he has no reason to be in awe of his surroundings.

"Apart from England internationals, not many players get to play in Wembley twice in a week so it was a big deal for me," Amond said, the 29-year-old clearly not fazed by the big stage.

Amond's first experience of a big sporting occasion was at Croke Park, when he lined out for the Carlow minor hurlers in a Leinster final.

"Not many have played in Wembley and Croke Park. Maybe Kevin Moran, Shane Long, Niall Quinn, possibly Denis Irwin, and Shane Long is probably the only one to score in both of them," Amond recently told The Herald.

"I was at Grimsby when we went to Wembley and beat Forest Green in the playoff final in the Conference, and six days later we were back there, for the FA Trophy final, where we lost to Halifax, it was disappointing to lose that but the main one was the league game which we won."

Newport are still in the race to win promotion from League Two and that's the priority but, having beaten Leeds United in the last round at the first time of asking, there's a sense they can profit once again, at the expense of Spurs.

For O'Brien, who has worked hard to save his career after serious illness and injury, the Cup game has come at a good time as he's managed to get his place in the side of late.

"I've been sitting in the wings and the lads have been on a great run so I'm happy to be back in the team," he said.

"Everyone will be desperate to play and we will all want to keep our spot, not just for the Tottenham game but for the rest of the season."

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