Lambert excited about Premier return to championship top table
Nearly seven years have passed since the Tipperary ladies played their last senior championship match, so hosting 11-time All-Ireland champions Cork in Ardfinnan for the Munster Ladies football semi-final on Saturday (2pm) will be a proud moment for the county.
Considering captain Samantha Lambert also hails from the South Tipperary village, there is great excitement in the area, and with the team on the back of an unprecedented run of results, there is a touch of confidence too.
Tipp enter the summer on the back of an undefeated 2017 that saw them win the National League Division 3 title, the Munster intermediate crown and the All-Ireland intermediate title.
This year, they earned promotion to Division One by beating Cavan in the Division Two final, although, according to Lambert, losing to Waterford in the group stages along the way was a timely taste of defeat.
"It was nearly the best thing that happened to us, losing to Waterford," said Lambert.
"It wasn't really a wake-up call, but maybe the unbeaten run had a bit of an effect on us and there was pressure on us to keep going.
"After winning for so long you forget what it feels like to lose a match. Having that feeling back in the dressing room was nearly like losing an All-Ireland final and we don't want to feel like that again."
At 27, Lambert is one of the most experienced players in the squad. She debuted in 2008 and was part of the All-Ireland intermediate-winning side later that year and for the three years of senior football that followed.
"We're looking forward to it, it'll be a brilliant test for us," she adds.
"A lot of our girls are quite young and fearless - it doesn't matter who they're up against. We have the potential to give Cork a good rattle and here's hoping we do.
"I don't think we have hit our potential yet, but hopefully that will come out on Saturday. No team is unbeatable."
And what about facing Cork in front of the Lambert clan?
"The parish of Ardfinnan is nearly all Lamberts so they'll definitely be out. They've travelled the length and breadth of the country to support me so I'm sure they'll make it to Ardfinnan.
"It's a great parish to support us. I have no doubt there'll be huge numbers there. The club's U-14s are playing at half-time so they're all excited for their big day too."
Tipperary have a full squad to pick from after corner-forward Orla O'Dwyer shook off a knock sustained playing camogie last weekend.