Sandie Fitzgibbon or Billy Morgan: Vote for your Echo Rebel Legend

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Sandie Fitzgibbon or Billy Morgan: Vote for your Echo Rebel Legend

The Echo Rebel Legends started out with 32 sports people who shone on Leeside and beyond since 1970.

SANDIE FITZGIBBON or Billy Morgan? 

The Echo is running a fun contest from here until March 11 where you can vote for your favourite Cork stars since 1970 and pick the winners in each round until we're left with an overall Rebel Legend winner.

There are 32 contenders, with a brilliant basketballer and camogie player and a Gaelic football icon paired off today

This poll will be open until 8am on Saturday morning.

Here's the case for each of the Leeside stars and keep checking here for the updates on the winners in each round.

SANDIE FITZGIBBON

The sport of camogie has always been a relatively successful one for this county and the outstanding Sandie Fitzgibbon made a huge contribution to that success.

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

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 successes 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 Cork senior medals with Glen Rovers that included the seven-in-a-row between 1990 and 1996.

Fitzgibbon also has eight Munster Senior Championship medals and just to round off her club career she won four Senior All-Ireland medals in 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1993.

There is no doubting Sandie played with and against the best during her career and she looked back on it with mixed emotions.

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

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 when I captained Cork to win the All Ireland title in 1992.”

After playing at the top 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 I could no longer give it the dedication that was required to play at inter-county level.”

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

Sandie was also a top-class basketball player and she helped the North Presentation School win the All-Ireland Cadet title in 1978.

At senior level, she helped Blarney win four National League titles and three National Cups, and she also played with Lee Strand in Tralee where she helped them win national league and cup honours in her three years with the Kerry club.

Her basketball skills were dazzling and despite being only 5' 6" she had the ability to wreak havoc on 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 career came in October 1990.

Picture: Denis Minihane
Picture: Denis Minihane

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 senior internationals with Ireland.

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

Sandie once again showed her incredible commitment and skills as the Glen defeated St Paul’s in the decider.

In 2000 Sandie was presented with the Millennium award in Cork for her achievements in sport, 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 with affection as one of Cork’s finest.

BILLY MORGAN

WHEN it comes to iconic sporting figures in Cork Billy Morgan shines the brightest.

Be it as a goalkeeper or manager, he’s done it all, winning every title possible and inspiring a county throughout.

Morgan stood between the Cork posts during three decades, 1960s, '70s and '80s, and brought the role of keeper to a new level.

Apart from being an outstanding shot-stopper, the Nemo Rangers great increased awareness of the importance of organisation and retaining the ball, when in possession.

Morgan started out in an era, when tradition had it keepers thumped the ball as far as possible up the field, but he had a different view.

Instead of going long all the time, Morgan’s first thoughts were on finding on a colleague to begin an attack.

He was ahead of his time in that regard and slowly, but surely, Morgan’s way of initiating moves from the back caught on and became the norm.

You could say Dublin great Stephen Cluxton carried it onto another level with his restarts, but it was Morgan who created the mold in the first instance.

He wore the number one jersey when Nemo made the breakthrough by winning their first county senior championship in 1972 which earned Morgan the right to captain Cork the following season.

And what a year ’73 proved to be as Cork swept to the Munster title, sweeping five goals past a bewildered Kerry in the Munster final and finding the net three times in the All-Ireland defeat of Galway to bring the Sam Maguire back to Leeside for the first time since 1945.

While Cork retained their Munster title in 1974, an emerging Dublin caught them by surprise in the All-Ireland semi-final and Kerry were also coming with a new team, which dominated provincially and nationally.

After retiring in 1981, Morgan immediately began the process of passing on all that he had gleaned from a brilliant playing career to future generations.

Either with Nemo, Cork, or UCC, Morgan cultivated a winning mentality with spectacular and regular success.

Of course, it wasn’t always that way because as the old adage says ‘you’ve got to taste defeat first before savouring victory.’

That was never truer during Morgan’s stint as Cork manager from the mid-1980s, when, despite being kings of the south, national glory proved elusive, at first.

Cork manager Billy Morgan ahead of the 1995 All-Ireland football semi-final at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Cork manager Billy Morgan ahead of the 1995 All-Ireland football semi-final at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Back-to-back All-Ireland final defeats by Meath, as well as a controversial draw, made Morgan even more determined to bounce back and Cork did it in style, claiming the next title in 1989 against Mayo.

And the crowning glory came the following season, the year of the double when both the Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy Cups were paraded in Cork for an historic first time.

Defeating Meath with 14 men only added to the sense of satisfaction for all involved.

During the middle noughties, Morgan took over the reign of manager for a third spell, availing of the back door in a couple of seasons to reach All-Ireland semi-finals and the final in 2007, when Kerry proved too strong in the second half.

More recently, Morgan rekindled his relationship with UCC and led them to three Sigerson Cups, including the 2019 edition

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