Ballyboden St Enda’s star Simon Lambert is looking forward to doing battle with his former county manager Anthony Daly in Sunday’s Dublin Championship final at Parnell Park.
‘Dalo’ took the reins at Kilmacud Crokes at the end of 2017 and has guided the south Dublin club to a third successive county final in his first season.
Lambert was part of the Dublin panel that captured their first Leinster title in 52 years under the Clare man in 2013, though he fell out of favour under his successor Ger Cunningham.
He hasn’t given up hope of a recall to the panel at the age of 30 but, for now, he’s enjoying an upturn in fortunes for his club side as they prepare for their first championship final in five years.
“Dalo and Richie [Stakelum] – that’s a county setup,” Lambert said ahead of this weekend’s heavyweight showdown.
“It’s passion that Dalo’s going to bring to it. He’s been excellent for them. He’s got their house in order.
“They were up and down in the League. But there’s going to be nothing in between us. There never is between us and Crokes.”
Having negotiated their way past St Vincent’s in the semi-final, Lambert, like most observers, expected to face double All-Ireland champions Cuala in the final.
Crokes tore up the script, however, with a narrow win over Cuala in the semis to set up somewhat of a grudge match, Boden having edged them out the last time they contested a final in 2013.
It’s been a long wait for the west Dublin side – who won six championships in the seven years leading up to that triumph – to get back to the level to which they’re accustomed.
“[It’s been] too long. Every year you don’t win one you think ‘are we ever going to get back there?’ Five years, yeah. 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. I suppose you could say they still had a hangover. But 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 the secrets behind Boden’s form this year has been a smaller number of disruptions due to players stepping up to intercounty level, and that consistency has translated to the pitch.
“One of our biggest issues if we’ve had so many lads with Dublin. And were coming back. 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.”