Caroline Forde or Linda Mellerick: Vote for your Echo Rebel Legend

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Caroline Forde or Linda Mellerick: Vote for your Echo Rebel Legend

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

CAROLINE FORDE or Linda Mellerick? 

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 one of the greatest basketballers Cork produced facing one of its best camogie players today. This poll will be open until 8am on Sunday morning.

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

CAROLINE FORDE

CAROLINE FORDE is arguably the greatest Irish women’s basketball player of all time.

Described by one basketball correspondent as an unstoppable force of nature, Forde burst on the National League scene, making her debut for Blarney at 13 years of age. For the next 20 years, she dominated Irish basketball at all levels like no other player has done, winning every title, award, and honour in the game.

Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year on more than one occasion, National Cup final MVP, Jury’s Hotel Sports Star Awards, multiple National Cup, National League and Top 4 titles and medals.

Forde has done it all and with a very high basketball IQ, she achieved all of this from the little rural village of Blarney where there was no previous tradition of the game.

She has over 100 international caps from U15 to senior levels; toured the east coast of America on several occasions back in the late '80s with Ireland, and turned down several Division 1 college offers to remain at home.

Forde played with Ireland in European and Olympic Championships, being the highest scoring Irish women’s player in the 1988 Pre-Olympic tournament in Malaysia and in the process averaging an extremely impressive 16 points per game.

Against Canada, she hit eight of nine shots for 17 points, had a game-high 19 points against Japan, also played against Sweden, Italy, and Czechoslovakia where she finished with another game-high of 17 and shot 86% for the five games from the free-throw line. Note there was no three-point line back then and if there was she'd have scored a lot more points!

During her National League career, she averaged over 20 points per game, won the treble of League, Cup and Top 4 with Blarney, and being the complete player she was, played both ends of the floor, often marking top American players, and was very much seen as tough an opponent and as strong defensively as she was offensively.

The Blarney Ladies Basketball team that won the ICS Building Society National Cup in 1987. Back: William Stokes, coach Dommie Mullins, captain Miriam Forde, Annette Forde, Mary Sullivan, Beryl Piper, club chairman Jim O'Keeffe; front, Mary McGuire, Jess Hurley, Maeve O'Brien, Caroline Forde, Tracey Nagle, Sandy Fitzgibbon and Elaine Hurley.
The Blarney Ladies Basketball team that won the ICS Building Society National Cup in 1987. Back: William Stokes, coach Dommie Mullins, captain Miriam Forde, Annette Forde, Mary Sullivan, Beryl Piper, club chairman Jim O'Keeffe; front, Mary McGuire, Jess Hurley, Maeve O'Brien, Caroline Forde, Tracey Nagle, Sandy Fitzgibbon and Elaine Hurley.

For those who didn’t see her play at her peak, Caroline would not be out of place in today’s WNBA. If one tried to describe the way she played she was like a combination of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Lebron James, and scored threes for fun. More often than not with the game on the line.

The contribution of Caroline to Blarney’s unbeaten title-winning season in 1990-91 and her MVP match-winning National Cup Performance for Tralee in the 1992-1993 season all back this up.

Like all great players Caroline is modest by nature, and left her game do the talking as she just loved to play, down the local schoolyard, or in the Arena in Tallaght, it simply didn’t matter.

Caroline did so with honour and distinction as a formidable team player with a lot of other legends of the women’s game both at club level with her beloved Blarney, Tralee, and Waterford respectively, and also on the international stage with Ireland. It is those experiences, friendships, and memories, and in particular, those forged playing with her late beloved sisters Miriam and Annette that Caroline cherishes most of all.

LINDA MELLERICK

THE name Linda Mellerick is synonymous with camogie.

She was one of only four Cork players selected on the camogie team of the century in 2004 where she was joined by her club mate Sandie Fitzgibbon and fellow Corkonions Marie Costine and Pat Moloney.

A wonderful player, she was born in Tipperary but moved to Cork at a very young age where she attended St Patrick’s school at Gardiner’s Hill.

It was there that young Mellerick decided to try out camogie. Up until then, Linda didn’t really know what camogie was, but her friends said it was similar to hockey and so she thought ya this will be fun.

A superb athlete, Linda had a unique style, she covered every blade of grass on the pitch and her work-rate was huge. She stood out a mile in the days when helmets were not worn and her reddish/blonde hair could be spotted all over the pitch as she weaved her magic. A player who always liked to be in the thick of the action, Linda frequently left her markers for dead, she had huge energy and skill and was always available to help teammates in defence or attack.

Her trademark solo runs were legendary and she split many a defence as she set up or took scores.

Her wonderful spirit and leadership qualities made her a special player, Linda’s dedication to training and the game was superb and she always put in huge effort. I have memories of Linda finishing shift work and coming straight to training with Cork and Glen Rovers, tired and drained but ready to give one hundred percent as always.

That was Linda Mellerick, always striving to be the very best and to lead by example, she frequently could be seen urging on and driving team-mates to be better and better.

She enjoyed a wonderful inter-county career with Cork which spanned 21 years and won six senior All Ireland medals 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2002, one minor All-Ireland and one junior, 10 National Leagues and four Gael Linn Interprovincial titles.

The pinnacle of her career at inter-county level saw her captain Cork to All-Ireland success in 1993; she was honoured by her club to lead Cork twice and became the only player to captain Cork to win All-Ireland senior titles on two occasions, in 1993 and 1997.

Linda Mellerick celebrates the 1998 All-Ireland at Croke Park. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Linda Mellerick celebrates the 1998 All-Ireland at Croke Park. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Linda was Player of the Year in 1993 and 1998. She originally planned to retire in 1997 but returned for five more years and eventually hung up her hurley in 2002 after winning her sixth All-Ireland medal and two years before the introduction of the Camogie All-Stars scheme.

In what was a fantastic club career, she won eight Cork County Senior Championships and three All-Ireland Club Championship medals as well as Munster club and All Ireland sevens with Glen Rovers whom she joined in 1986 having played underage with Brian Dillon’s. She captained Glen Rovers to county championship success in 1996 as they overcame Imokilly to record a record seven in a row, a feat only ever recorded once previously when Glen Rovers took titles from 1962 to 68.

She was a wonderful player and a great ambassador for camogie.

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