By Kevin Regan
On Sunday, Padraig Amond will fulfill the dream of many Irish and UK based soccer players and grace the hallowed turf at Wembley Stadium.
Having achieved many great accolades in an highly successful sporting career to date, the Carlow man will join a very distinct and rare group of players who have played at both Croke Park and Wembley Stadium.
Amond of course played for Carlow in the Leinster Minor Hurling Final in 2006 in a year which he also made his League of Ireland debut for Shamrock Rovers and will equal the feat of Dublin legend Kevin Moran who also played at both grounds.
This season has been a memorable year for Amond at Grimsby Town, which recently saw him pick up no fewer than nine accolades including the joint golden boot award.
It’s been quite a journey for Amond to date in a career which also saw him feature against Real Madrid in a friendly a few years back with Cristiano Ronaldo among the opposition ranks.
After a modest spell at Portuguese Premier Division side Pacos De Ferreira, Amond came back to England for spells at Accrington Stanley and Morecambe before moving on to Grimsby Town this year where he has been a revelation.
Having hit the net on no fewer than 30 times this season, Amond has simply been on fire and come Sunday he will be Grimsby’s go to man with Forest Green Rovers the only team that stands between them and a place back in League Football.
It’s expected that 15,000 Mariners fans will travel to the capital in what’s dubbed to be the biggest game in the club’s recent history, after six seasons in the National League.
In an interesting twist, Carlow Senior Footballers face Louth in their Leinster Championship opener on Saturday, and there is no doubt in my mind that Padraig would be the first name on Turlough O Brien’s team sheet having excelled at underage level.
The same could be said for the Carlow Senior Hurlers who may have survived relegation to the Christy Ring Cup had he been available, so the GAA’s loss is most certainly Soccer’s gain.
But who knows, maybe one day when Amond has enough of the Soccer and Sean O Brien finishes up with Rugby we might see the pair of them play Championship Football for Carlow before retirement and what a prospect that would be!
For now though we wish Padraig well and hopefully he bags the winner at Wembley on Sunday!