The Leeside legends series: Sandie Fitz the bill as a camogie and basketball dynamo

The Leeside legends series: Sandie Fitz the bill as a camogie and basketball dynamo

Sandie Fitzgibbon had the ability to wreak havoc on a basketball court.

THE sport of Camogie has always been a particularly successful one for this county and the outstanding Sandie Fitzgibbon made a huge contribution to that success during her playing career.

Sandie enjoyed a very successful career which included winning seven consecutive senior county medals with her beloved Glen Rovers.

Picture: Denis Minihane
Picture: Denis Minihane

She began playing with the Glen as a nine-year-old and won her first All-Ireland Minor medal in 1978, at the age of 14.

Sandie was born in 1964 and was one of a sporting family of six sisters and one brother.

Her achievements in camogie are nothing short of amazing and her most notable achievement was playing in 13 Senior All Ireland camogie finals with Cork.

At club level, she won 10 senior county medals that included seven on the trot between 1990 and 1996.

Sandie also has eight Munster championship medals and just to round off her club career she won four Senior All Ireland medals in 1986, 1990, 1992 and 1993.

There is no doubt that Sandie played with and against the best during her illustrious career and she looks back on it with mixed emotions.

“I would say losing six All-Ireland titles in a row up to 1991 was the most disappointing for me but in a nutshell it was the same for all my teammates,” she said.

Sandie Fitzgibbon enjoyed a long career in the Cork jersey, including playing in 13 senior All-Ireland finals.
Sandie Fitzgibbon enjoyed a long career in the Cork jersey, including playing in 13 senior All-Ireland finals.

At no stage did Sandie ever feel that she wouldn’t reach the Holy Grail with the Rebels.

“Thank God our luck changed, and it was a dream come true for me when I captained Cork to the 1992 All-Ireland title,” she added.

After playing at the top level for 17 years, Sandie decided to call it a day in 1997 at the age of 33.

“When you play at the top level for a long time it really does take a great deal of commitment and I felt at that time that I could no longer give it the dedication that was required to play at inter-county level,” she said.

Two years later, after giving Glen Rovers 26 years of incredible service, she decided it was time to bow out.

There were many great opponents that Sandie faced both at club and inter-county level.

“I respected all my opponents, but I would say the Downey sisters, Angela and Ann, were the most competitive I had to face.

“I could not pick a favourite teammate because I was very lucky to be surrounded by talented players throughout my career.”

Sandie was also a top-class basketball player. Playing with the North Presentation School, in 1978 she led them to the All-Ireland Cadet title. At Senior level she helped Blarney win four National League titles, three National Cups, six Cork Senior leagues and five Cork senior championships.

Her basketball skills were dazzling and despite being only 5’-6’ she had the ability to wreak havoc on the court.

Indeed, Sandie’s talent is still spoken about in basketball circles and to represent your country at the highest level of the sport speaks volumes of her skills.

Amazingly, throughout her playing career Sandie mixed camogie and basketball and was never fazed by the demands.

The busiest week of her life came 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 to play three internationals with Ireland.

Having returned to Ireland on Friday, she had only two days to recover before lining out with Glen Rovers in the All Ireland camogie final.

Sandie once again showed her incredible commitment and skills as she helped the Blackpool side defeat St Paul’s in the decider.

To round off her silverware collection, Sandie won the Munster Youth Sports Star in 1983, Jury Sports Star in 1990 and 1992, Camogie Player of the Year in 1992 and 1995 and the Delta Airlines Olympic Basketball award in 1992.

In 2000 Sandie was presented with the Millennium award for her achievements in Sport in Cork, an award she so richly deserved.

There are many legends in the sporting world on Leeside but the name of Sandie Fitzgibbon will always be remembered as one of Cork’s finest.

Cork camogie legend Sandie Fitzgibbon in action against Galway at Croke Park in 1998. Picture: SPORTSFILE.
Cork camogie legend Sandie Fitzgibbon in action against Galway at Croke Park in 1998. Picture: SPORTSFILE.

FACTFILE:

Won her first All-Ireland Minor camogie medal with Cork at the age of 14.

Was on six consecutive losing Cork teams in the All-Ireland camogie finals up to 1991 but her dream was realised in 1992 when she captained the Rebels to win the title.

Retired from inter-county camogie in 1997 and two years later did likewise at club level.

Played a total of 26 years at club level for Glen Rovers.

Won a total of 64 basketball caps for Ireland at Senior International level.

More in this section

Sponsored Content