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Dublin: 19 °C Saturday 8 August, 2020
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Life after Dublin - 'Do I have any regrets? Maybe about what I said? Possibly so.'

Simon Lambert is gearing up for the Dublin county final almost three years after being axed from the county panel.

Simon Lambert will be in action in next Sunday's Dublin county senior hurling final.
Simon Lambert will be in action in next Sunday's Dublin county senior hurling final.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

IT’S COUNTY HURLING final week and enough has occurred since his last appearance with Ballyboden St-Enda’s for Simon Lambert to appreciate this build-up.

Ballyboden collected six titles between 2007 and 2013, Lambert a Dublin hurler at the time and a lynchpin in their run of club success.

Now it’s almost three years since he was cut from the county squad by Ger Cunningham and while still harbouring ambitions to play, a recall has not been forthcoming.

His omission in late 2015 did not sit easy with him, accusing Dublin boss Cunningham at the time of ‘disrespect’.

But with a current vacancy in the Dublin managerial hotseat, Lambert is hoping to get a chance to impress for 2019.

“I’m 29. I’m 30 in a few weeks. I finished three years ago. For me, it didn’t finish nicely. Do I have any regrets? Maybe about what I said? Possibly so.

“Ger had to do a job. End of story. He looked at his panel after year one and said ‘I had to get rid of X, Y and Z. I was one of them. Did I think I was good enough to play? Yeah.

“Do I still think I’m good enough to play? Yeah. But that remains to be seen for whoever comes in.”

Lambert freely admits to being disappointed at not getting an opportunity to audition when Pat Gilroy took over for the 2018 campaign.

Simon Lambert Simon Lambert in action for Dublin against Galway in 2015 in Croke Park. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“I was yeah, I’ll be honest, it hurt me. No different to Joe (Fortune), when Dublin were looking for a management, he probably thought he was going to get into that role.

“That was a year ago, I was 28, absolutely, you feel you’re coming to the peak of your career, you think you have something to give. My club (form) has probably been indifferent over the last couple of years, I’d absolutely agree. But I still definitely did think last year I had something to offer, both on and off the pitch.

“I heard numbers like 65 or 70 lads that were brought out. And you’re kind of going, ‘Jeez, am I not in the top 70 in Dublin?’ I’m going from playing for Dublin to not being in the top 70. That’s Pat’s way.

“If he wanted to go a different way about it, that’s fine. I would be a small bit envious of the lads and how good the setup was this year and the continuity that they all had.

“They were unlucky with the couple of results they had. But as I said, I’m enjoying my hurling and football with the club. The fact that I’m not with Dublin means I can go and play football with the club, that’s the other side of it.”

He’s keeping an eye on the hunt for the Dublin boss and will be interested in the identity of the new man with Anthony Daly, manager of the Kilmacud team that Lambert’s club face next Sunday, one of the candidates believed to be in the running.

Anthony Daly Kilmacud Crokes manager Anthony Daly. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“Dublin’s a lot different from the setup Dalo left. Obviously the likes of (Chris) Crummey, Trollier (Eamonn Dillon) – they’re probably leaders in the team now that Dalo brought in. But whatever Dalo does, Dalo does.

“I’m sure he’d like to get back into county management, whether that’s with Clare or with Dublin. If he goes back with Dublin, all the best to him.”

“if Dalo gets it I wouldn’t be saying he’s going to bring me back but the door, for me, I’ll always keep the door open to playing with Dublin, no matter what age I am.

“So whoever comes in, I’ll just try to perform on Sunday and you never know, if it’s Dalo or Mattie (Kenny) or Anthony Cunningham, they’re probably the three lads that are being touted for it. I’ll just look after myself on Sunday and see what happens.”

After ruling Dublin hurling circles in the first part of his career, Lambert and his Ballyboden team-mates have had to watch Cuala and Kilmacud dominate in recent times, accumulating five of the last six crowns.

With All-Ireland club kingpins Cuala having exited the 2018 stage, there is a major opportunity to grasp silverware.

Ballyboden St Endas team celebrates winning Ballyboden St Enda's players celebrate winning the 2013 Dublin senior title. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Every year you don’t win one you think ‘are we ever going to get back there?’ 

“And we haven’t even looked like we were going to get to a final. Last year, we beat Cuala six weeks after they won an All-Ireland.

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“I suppose you could say they still had a hangover. But (we) beat them.

“And a week later, we lost to Crumlin. No disrespect to Crumlin, but we would have expected to beat any other club team.

“So yeah, we’ve kind of got our act together under new management. I’m just look forward to Sunday.”

“One of our biggest issues is we’ve had so many lads with Dublin. Granted, when we were successful, we probably had seven or eight.

“But it takes its toll. We’re doing our day-in, day-out training with the club and then the county lads are just coming back in straight into the team.

“And it kind of disrupts the whole thing. This year, we had only three or four lads – Niall McMorrow dropped himself off it.

“So it hasn’t been as disruptive. That’s a big factor.

“Obviously then having Joe (Fortune, I never had Joe but most of the team had him with DIT or underage and they knew what he was about.

“So it was great to have him. In fairness to Joe, he great at delegating as well and his man-management skills are great.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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