by Daragh Small
Tipperary captain Samantha Lambert says she would love to be starting her career all over again as Ladies Football continues to break new ground.
On Saturday, the Premier County are involved in a double-header at Páirc Uí Rinn, where Lambert and Tipperary clash with Cork in Division 1 of the Lidl National League (5.0).
That game will be followed by Cork and Meath in the men’s National Football League, and the Ardfinnan defender is intrigued by the prospect.
“The double-headers are huge,” said Lambert.
“I have been on the team since 2008 and I can see the amount of progress that the LGFA, our sponsors Lidl and TG4 have made.
“The amount of support they have given us has been absolutely huge. It’s a credit to them because Ladies Football is really on the up. It is going in a positive direction.
“I would just love to be starting out my footballing career again with the way it is going. It really helps us and it spurs each of us on that there is such a crowd and support. People know about our games being on now.
“Those double-headers really help to get supporters to our games.”
Shane Ronayne’s side have lost their first two games in the top flight – their first year of Division 1 football – with defeats to Mayo and Dublin.
They are currently bottom of the standings heading into the game against the 2018 TG4 All-Ireland Finalists – and a team that has hoovered up League and All-Ireland crowns in recent times.
And while she loves the current rules of the Ladies’ game, Lambert believes a bit more physicality could be accommodated to keep Ladies Football ahead of the curve.
“Why would you change something if it’s not broken? It’s pure football and that’s what we want,” said Lambert.
“Maybe we could bring in a bit more physicality, that side of things could be worked on especially with the addition of strength and conditioning coaches in Ladies Football in the management setup.
“Why not use that physicality and get away with a small bit more of the shoulder. That is what strength and conditioning is about, it’s about being more physical, if you can’t use that then what’s the point in having them?
“Other than that the game is pure. There is no need for any major rule changes.”
Tipperary were promoted to Division 1 for the first time last season but they faltered in the championship and were demoted to the intermediate ranks.
After a brilliant start to 2018, it all concluded with a 2-14 to 1-14 loss against Cavan at Dolan Park in Virginia on 18 August.
“It was a disappointing ending to what could have been a really good year,” said Lambert.
“Things just didn’t go our way in the second half against Cavan. We have to build on that and forget about it. We can’t dwell on it too long.
“We have to drive it on this year and go out there and prove a point that we do belong up in the senior ranks. That is our drive this year, we want to get out there and compete against the best teams in the country.”
But playing top tier football in the Lidl NFL will undoubtedly aid the progression of a youthful looking outfit.
Lambert is in her third season as captain and she is tasked with being a leader as her side aim to move clear of the relegation mire.
“We are playing against unbelievable teams,” said Lambert.
“Our focus is to get a good performance in all of our matches and give everything we can. The results will look after themselves and what will be will be.
“But it will prepare us well for championship. It is great to be able to compete against the likes of Dublin, Galway and Mayo.
“We are under no illusions about what they are going to bring to the games, their physicality and speed.
“Being in Division 1, it’s a huge test for all of us. But you want to be competing against the best and it will bring out the best in yourselves as well.”
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