Kieran Joyce or Donal Lenihan: Vote for your favourite Rebel Legend

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Kieran Joyce or Donal Lenihan: Vote for your favourite Rebel Legend

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

KIERAN Joyce or Donal Lenihan? 

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, today it's an Olympic boxer against one of Ireland's best-known rugby figures.

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

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

KIERAN JOYCE

WORLD Coach of the Year Billy Walsh believes that Kieran Joyce was one of the greatest boxers Ireland has ever produced.

Wexford-native Walsh, who departed as Irish head coach in acrimonious circumstances in 2015 to take over as head coach with the USA, said the Sunnyside BC man always left everything in the ring He said: “Kieran was a fantastic competitor and wore the Irish vest with pride. I was at plenty of tournaments with him, and he always gave it his all.

He had a superb international record. He was very seldom beaten and if you were lucky enough to beat him, you knew you were in a hell of a fight.” 

Joyce was unveiled as Cork’s Boxer of the Century at a Centenary Dinner Dance in celebration of 100 years of the sport on Leeside in 2014.

Joyce represented Ireland on over 100 occasions. He won European Elite bronze in Bulgaria in 1983 before lining out at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988 in between securing six Irish Elite titles.

Following the death of his coach Albie Murphy, Joyce put in many years of service as head coach with Sunnyside BC.

Coach Albie Murphy with a trio of Sunnyside internationals, Gordon Joyce, Paul Buttimer and Kieran Joyce. In 1987 all three won National Senior titles on the same night.
Coach Albie Murphy with a trio of Sunnyside internationals, Gordon Joyce, Paul Buttimer and Kieran Joyce. In 1987 all three won National Senior titles on the same night.

In 1983, he boxed for Ireland at the European Elites in Varna, Bulgaria and toppled Norway’s Kristen Reagan and Hungary’s Tibor Molnar to secure bronze but was beaten on a split decision by eventual gold medallist, Petr Galkin of the USSR, in the semi-finals.

A year later, Joyce represented Ireland at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The Sunnyside man got a bye in the welter class and stopped Basil Boniface of Seychelles in his first outing.

He met Joni Nyman of Finland in his next bout. The northsider boxed exceptionally well in the first round but lost the second and third, and Nyman won on a 4-1 split.

His second Olympic experience was at Seoul 1988. By the time these Games came around, Joyce was unbeaten in Ireland and had moved up to the light middle division. Battling to make that limit, he moved up another notch to middleweight The Corkman was drawn against Filipo Palako Vaka of Tonga in his first bout at 75kg and stopped the brave but outclassed Polynesian in the first round.

Uganda’s Franco Wanyama, a renowned puncher, was next on a day of enormous disappointment for the Irish squad as they were all, including Joyce, eliminated.

However, Joyce’s exit was particularly galling as he was on the wrong end of a controversial 3-2 split decision from a fight many believed he had won.

Joyce admitted after the contest that the verdict killed him as he was sure he had done enough to progress. “My objective was gold,” he said. The loss marked the end of his Olympic dream and journey.

Meanwhile, 20 years before Joyce exploded onto the national boxing scene in 1983, another Northside legend, Mick Leahy, won the British middleweight crown in England after stopping George Aldridge in the first round in Nottingham.

He was asked for his thoughts on Joyce and said the Sunnyside BC stand out “was a fearless fighting machine who propelled himself out of proportion in his quest to achieve victory at all times.”.

DONAL LENIHAN

IF ever a sportsman was destined for the top it was surely Donal Lenihan.

Even from an early age in CBC, where he captained the famous academy to junior and senior cup success, Lenihan stood out as one for the future.

His path was typical back in the old amateur days, school, university, province, country, and the ultimate honour of a Lion.

Lenihan had all the attributes of being a legend of the second-row, strong, powerful, skilful and athletic.

At 6' 5" and 17 stone he fitted the bill perfectly in locking a scrum, but it was his ability to make spectacular two-handed catches in the line-out which stood out.

Lenihan’s progression continued on an upward spiral after leaving Christians to attend UCC, where he came under
the wing of a former Ireland second-row, Dr Mick Molloy.

Lenihan was part of a star-studded College side, which shocked the all-conquering Shannon in the final of the Munster senior cup in 1981.

The Limerick team had a pack of forwards feared all over Ireland and beyond, but they reckoned without being led a drag all over Musgrave Park on a sweltering Easter Saturday.

That season proved memorable for Lenihan because later in the year he won his first international cap against the touring Australians.

Willie Duggan and Donal Lenihan. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Willie Duggan and Donal Lenihan. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

At 22, he would have been considered young for a second-row, but with the likes of the late Moss Keane around to keep an eye out, Lenihan took to it like the manor born.

The next natural step was switching club on graduating from UCC and Lenihan joined Cork Con, where he enjoyed more success, all the time proudly representing Munster, as well.

During his stint at the Temple Hill club, he helped the Cons to three provincial cups and was an important figure in the club’s capture of the initial All-Ireland League 30 years ago.

That was another famous day in Con’s history as they travelled to Limerick to take on Garryowen in their own back yard in a winner-take-all closing game and duly prevailed in front of a thronged Dooradoyle.

For a full decade, Lenihan was part and parcel of an Ireland team, which lifted the country’s spirits with some memorable display and triumphs.

During his time in the green jersey, Lenihan helped Ireland claim three Five Nations titles and a couple of Triple Crowns, in addition to rising to the honour of captaining his country 17 times.

One of the great days at the old Lansdowne Road came against England in the final game of the 1985 championship with everything on the line.

Lenihan played a pivotal role in the winning score, breaking off a line-out and setting up a ruck which led to another Corkman, Michael Kiernan, dropping the winning goal to clinch the title.

Lenihan also played in two World Cups in 1987 and 1991 and toured with the Lions in 1983 and 1989 before calling it a day the following year against Wales, when he won his 52nd and final cap to bring a brilliant international career to a close.

He went down the road of management after hanging up his boots and teamed up with coach Warren Gatland to lead Ireland in 1998 and Lenihan was the Lions manager for the tour to Australia in 2001. These days he is president of Con in a difficult season for everyone.

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