Padraig Amond, after 14 years of playing abroad, has returned home to play for Waterford FC. As he mentions, “I’m delighted to be going home now after being away for so long.”
When asked why now is the right time to return home, Padraig said:
“I’ve got two young kids, one who’s potentially getting to the age of starting school. So instead of starting to upheaval them after he started school, we decided to come home and get settled in first and then let them be able to grow up back home around their cousins and for ourselves, myself, and my wife, to be around with our families again. It was time to go home. I’ve been away for 14 years now, and yeah, it’s a long time to be away from everybody.”
The decision behind the move to Waterford FC raises the question of why this club, out of the many other Irish clubs, would happily take a player of the same caliber as Padraig Amond. Padraig had this to say:
“I think the manager there is a very, very good manager. I have always admired the work that he has done, starting from what he has done at Longtown, and then when he went to Bohemians, he did an unbelievable job there. At the time, it was a shoestring budget he had because the boards were going through severe financial difficulties, and he brought a lot of exceptionally good young players through. He obviously would have lost a lot of them because the teams that had more money in the league were able to take them away from him, but they still had exceptionally good European campaigns. So, the chance to probably work with him and to work with people like Alan Reynolds”.
“So, to work with him, Brian Murphy’s the coach, and David Breen is another coach. It appealed to me, and it is a good decision so far. I have been there for a few days, and I spoke to the manager quite a lot in between all that. But it feels like it’s the perfect move, and it was the right decision for me.”
So, with this transfer news, can we expect the same level of success from Padraig Almond, who has had over five individual trophies throughout his whole playing career.
“Yeah, look, I feel it’s a very young squad, and obviously one of the big reasons I was brought in was for my experience. So, you know, my role now is to obviously try to help the club finish as high as possible in the league and do well in the Cups, but also to help bring on those players. They have some very talented players there, and already the players have been very keen, asking me questions about different things. I’m sure they’ll ask loads more again, and they’ll learn from me, but equally, I’ll be trying to learn from them as well because sometimes the best thing you can do is watch the youth and see what they do because their exuberance, their youthful exuberance, and their energy levels can help bring me along as well.”
When the choice of leaving Woken came up for Padraig, he recalls it not being a tough decision to make in the end.
“I don’t think it was a tough one really in the end because, you know, I wanted to kind of go on my terms, and you know, luckily, I was able to do that. It was not a case that you knew I was released as a 25-year-old and then scrambled around trying to find something over in Ireland; as I said to you, it was very much a family decision. There have been other opportunities in the last 12 months, 18 months, that did happen but did not happen for one reason or another: coming home. And yes, as I said, it was a family thing to come home for my family, who have been huge supporters of me throughout my career. Before I left to go play in Portugal, I do not think my mom and dad missed a game, from the age of five or six when I started to when I left. So, it was difficult for them to get over it and watch every game. So now they can go watch games. My kids can go watch games freely because I’m not travelling up and down the country in England.”
“It’s just nice that I’ll be able to do all that and still have my friends and family be able to come to every game or whatever game they want to do rather than having to put the expense on themselves of flying over and we’d only see them for a few hours before they’re flying back. So just things like that made it easier. When I spoke to Woken, they did not want to let me leave, but they understood the reason behind it.
In terms of the League of Ireland, Padraig believes that there has been a massive increase in fan bases and a completely different style of play for all the teams around Ireland.
“The fan base has probably increased, and probably the style of play has changed quite a bit as well. It has gotten a lot better. Now, that is not to say that it is better now than it was 15 years ago. All of that is subjective. There seem to be a lot more younger supporters getting into the games now. Even from watching a lot of the games last year, you see young boys and girls watching them. It’s very rare that in any other league, 15 years ago, nowhere was selling out unless it was a big Dublin derby or a cork against Rovers in the last couple of games of the season for the title or something like that.”
“As I said, the style of play, people are implementing all kinds of different styles now; there’s a more passing style; maybe it’s probably a little bit more attractive to watch. So, it is vastly different from what it was maybe 10 or 15 years ago, but ultimately, it comes down to being an entertainment product for supporters; they want to be entertained, and maybe that is why the crowds are starting to come again. Facilities-wise, we are very lucky at Waterford with the facilities we have with the university down there and the partnership they have, which is brilliant. Some of the grounds in the country probably do need to be redeveloped.”
We look forward to seeing what the season holds for a veteran player like Padraig Almond as he joins a young Waterford FC side in hopes of achieving some of the same success he found playing internationally.