Two of Cork’s sporting icons are going head-to-head today in our Echo Rebel Legends competition.
Tens of thousands of votes have been cast on EchoLive.ie for the 32 nominees chosen for the fun contest more than a month ago.
Hundreds of readers - often more than 1,000 per day - have flocked to vote every day in our match-ups between stars of the recent past, most of whom would never have come up against each other in their real sporting careers.
Local clubs, as well as the host of sports-obsessed Cork people have got behind their favourites and there have been some big upsets - not least the victory for Sandie Fitzgibbon, the camogie and basketball star who knocked out the peerless Roy Keane in the semi-final.
Sandie now faces the amazing Rena Buckley, the football and camogie multi-All-Ireland winner in the final.
Our winners don’t have to be the most famous, but they have to be respected and even loved enough to be able to attract Echo readers to click and vote for them.
To reach this stage against the most distinguished of modern sports heroes in our city and county, both women would, of necessity, have had to have an enormous impact on Cork sport and on the Cork public.
Anyone wondering how they could eliminate some of the most famous stars in Ireland only has to look at their record of achievement.
Think of the busiest week of Sandie’s career, back in October, 1990.
On Sunday she played an All-Ireland club camogie semi-final with Glen Rovers in Derry and immediately after the game travelled to Boston and played three senior international basketball matches with Ireland. The following Sunday she was back with the Glen to win the All-Ireland. That is only a small sample of her achievements.
Rena is the winner of 11 All-Ireland Senior Football medals and seven All-Ireland Senior Camogie medals - and that is only a small sample of her achievements.
It will come as no surprise to Echo and EchoLive.ie readers that women’s sport has surged to the fore in Cork. We have been banging that drum for many years.
Our Women in Sport Awards is a highlight of the Cork sport scene every year and we look forward to getting back to the live event as soon as it is safe to do so. But we like to think that the awards, the Women’s Mini Marathon and the dozens of pages of women’s sport we have been featuring every week over the past decade and more have contributed to the growing prominence of women’s sport and of the superstars it produces.
Two of them will now contest the final. One will be the winner. But as anyone who has followed this series knows, there are no losers among the 32 nominees.
It has been our privilege to relay the narrative of their success and to profile their wonderful careers.