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Lambe's still mint for Vins

HE'S known as the Da Lambe. "Yes, everyone calls me that," smiles Tony Lambe Senior.

He's been running teams at St Vincent's for 40 successive years. "No, I never took a break from it. I had holidays alright, but it was straight back into it.

"St Vincent's is such a special place. The people there are second to none.

"We have had our share of great players down through the years, and they all come back. It's lovely to see them still giving to the club."

Tony particularly admired Davy Billings. "Dave was always one of my favourite players and he's still very much involved today.

"He also rated Raheny's Alan Larkin. "They were two unsung heroes in my opinion. I was a selector when Alan managed the Dublin minor footballers."

These days, Tony is managing the St Vincent's AFL Division 7 side. "The lads are having a fine season, and we are having a few laughs along the way. What more could you ask for?

"I first became involved when I got married and moved to Marino. All my children were wrapped up in it." Tony had 10 kids, seven sons and three daughters, and now a squad of grandchildren.

One of his sons, Tony junior, is the accomplished referee, while another, John, is the vice-chairman of Vincent's.

"I remember us playing in the Oval in Raheny before we moved to Páirc Naomh Uinsionn. It's a fabulous facility and the work goes on in developing the grounds there.


"The club is getting stronger all the time. There's such a deep tradition. Characters like the Foleys, Heffo and Brian Mullins, who is the chairman today.

"Jackie Gilroy, Pat's father, was chairman for years. He did so much.

"We'll all be rooting for Pat and the team on Saturday. Hopefully, they can show the same spirit as the hurlers. Weren't the hurlers terrific?"

Tony has his trusted methods for management. "We all have our own ways of looking after teams. Having a happy camp and having a bit of craic is so much a part of it," he says. "You have to treat everybody with respect. If you are down to earth and honest with players, you'll get the response. It doesn't matter what age-group you are dealing with, having respect for your players is crucial.

"I have seen changes alright. The game is so much faster now. It's all about speed. And the coaching is better.

"I'm all for whatever improves the welfare of the players. It's good to see things like coaching courses. That all helps the games in the long run."

One of Tony's fondest memories is the trip to Australia with the Dublin Colleges.

"Gerry O'Brien, a great St Vincent's, Ardscoil Rís and Tipp man, wasn't able to go, so I went instead.

"We were there for a month. We had a great time. I have a brother living there for the last 50 years. I brought all the team to see him."

Tony is intent on creating more treasured memories: "I'll go on as long as I can."

His magical, managerial mix continues to inspire. In the haven of legends, the Da Lambe has become one himself, a man who keeps on giving and never counts the cost. Priceless.