Roy Keane or Rachel Kohler: Vote for your favourite Rebel Legend

Have your say in our fun competition to be in with a chance to win a €200 voucher
Roy Keane or Rachel Kohler: Vote for your favourite Rebel Legend

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

ROY Keane or Rachel Kohler? 

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 our pairing both hit the heights at international level in their chosen sports.

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

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

ROY KEANE

WHAT is it that can be said about Roy Keane that hasn’t already been said?

The short answer is nothing, but a reiteration of what has been said about him perhaps underlines just what a force of nature he was.

In the public consciousness, the game that sums up the Mayfield native is the 1999 Champions League semi-final second leg against Juventus. Despite having picked up a booking that would rule him out of the final, Keane was the driving force as United came from 2-0 down to win 3-2, scoring the first goal in Turin.

While Keane and Sir Alex Ferguson are not close, the manager’s description of his captain’s performance perfectly summed him up.

“Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player.”

Ryan Giggs’ view of the player he played with for 12 years was in a similar vein.

“You never felt you were beaten when Keaney was in your team,” he said.

He never threw in the towel. I don’t think any of the rest of us were less determined to win than Keaney, but what makes him different is the way he gets it across, his anger if you like.

“More than any other player I’ve seen, he affects players around him.”

Roy Keane battling Italy in New York in the 1994 World Cup. Picture: Eddie O'Hare.
Roy Keane battling Italy in New York in the 1994 World Cup. Picture: Eddie O'Hare.

Of course, you could say that it was easy for people associated with Manchester United to talk highly of such a talisman but Patrick Vieira, who locked horns with Keane for nine seasons in the Premier League when he was with Arsenal, offered a similarly glowing testimonial.

“What I like about him is the fact that he wouldn’t talk; he’d take the kick, he wouldn’t say anything, then, on the next one, he’d give it to you and he would expect, of course, that you say nothing.

“He’s not the kind of player who talks a lot. So he’ll take the kick, he will give back, but I like him — he’s quite fair.”

Eoin O’Callaghan’s new book, Keane: Origins, outlines how Keane’s attitude remained as clear-headed and impenetrable from his days with Cobh Ramblers, when he was on a FÁS football course, through his early years at Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough.

Such a player could only thrive in the environment which surrounded him at Manchester United and it’s not overstating things to say that the Republic of Ireland wouldn’t have qualified for the 2002 World Cup without him. How they would have done if he hadn’t departed is a moot point but doesn’t dull his achievements.

It says much about Keane’s force of personality that so many people became Sunderland fans when he became the club’s manager in 2006. We’ll leave the last word to another genius full of personality, Eric Cantona.

“He was the best in midfield; he could play everywhere. He could play the holding role and be defensive, but then he could suddenly burst forward and score goals.

“He was so intelligent in how he played the game and let me tell you, it felt good to have him behind me for four seasons. He’d win the ball and then give it to me. And what a character!”

RACHEL KOHLER

RACHEL KOHLER is among the top and most respected hockey players of all time to have worn the green shirt of Ireland or the red of her club, Harlequins.

Just mention her name to anyone who has even a passing interest in hockey and you will invariably receive an enthusiastic response.

Her dedication to the sport has been incredible, and her skill and stamina, along with her composure, were standout features of her game.

Her leadership qualities made her a role model for all aspiring young players.

Born in 1974, Rachael began playing hockey for her school, Roxboro, and, five years later, she joined Harlequins. Rachael continued her hockey education at UCC, helping them to win two inter-varsity titles.

She won many international honours, at U16, U18, U21, and senior levels, and has represented Munster at all age groups.

She has won the Munster Senior League and Cup on numerous occasions with Harlequins, but her greatest triumph came when her club won the 2000 Irish Women’s Cup and the European Club Championship.

Rachael was capped at senior level for Ireland 166 times and in doing so became Ireland’s most capped player, male or female, at that time.

She also had the distinction of playing in two World Cups with Ireland, in 1994 and 2002, the latter in Australia, where she captained the side.

Rachel Kohler. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE.
Rachel Kohler. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE.

“The trip to the World Cup was probably my best experience in hockey, as it gave me the opportunity to play against the top players in the sport.”

The best moment of her career, outside of captaining Ireland in Australia, was winning the European Cup with Harlequins.

Another milestone for the Cork ace was reaching 100 caps for Ireland, which she did in March 2000, and, in the three seasons with UCC, winning the intervarsity title in Cork, in 1996.

But even a player who has been successful Rachel has also had some disappointments.

“I was very down when we lost on the golden goal to China in the Pre-Olympic Games, at Milton Keynes, in 2000,” she said. “We were also 35 minutes away from qualifying for the Sydney Olympics, after losing 2-0 to Spain.

“The other two major setbacks were missing the tour to America in 1996, to illness, and an injury I got that required nine stitches in my face wasn’t a good experience. Having said all that, hockey has been very good to me and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

The stronger nations in European hockey are Holland, Germany, and England, but Rachel feels that the standard is improving in this country all the time.

“I believe the younger players are much more advanced than I was at their age,” she says. 

That bore fruit in 2018 when Ireland won silver medals at the World Cup finals in a tournament they weren’t fancied by most to even get out of the group stages. Since then the Irish women’s side have gone on to qualify for the next Olympics for the first time ever.

“My mother and father have always been there for me, as well as my brother, Mark, and sister, Jessica, as we are a very united family and that’s always nice, when you feel the need to talk to somebody,” Rachael said.

In a sport that has had many great players over the years, Rachel will be remembered as one of the greatest that this country has ever produced.

More in this section

Sponsored Content