JBM v Ronan O'Gara: Vote for your favourite Rebel Legend

The Echo wants you to help pick the best Cork sports star since 1970 to be in with a chance to win a €200 voucher
JBM v Ronan O'Gara: Vote for your favourite Rebel Legend

Vote for your favourite Rebel Legends each day.

JIMMY Barry-Murphy or Ronan O'Gara? 

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

We started with 32 contenders and are now into the last 16, with another tough choice for you to make. This poll will be open until 8am on Wednesday morning.

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


JBM as he is affectionately known, was the ultimate in the dual player role, a role that has ceased to be where the inter-county front is concerned.

Without any shadow of a doubt, apart from Christy Ring, JBM is probably the best-loved of all Cork GAA players through the ages.

He’s been there, done that as a player of immense ability in both hurling and football, an All-Ireland medal winner in both codes and at the end of a hugely successful playing career he entered the choppy waters of team management to lead Cork to a never to be forgotten All-Ireland SHC triumph in 1999.

Idolised in a red jersey, he had this unique ability to turn a game in an instant, he could be on the fringes for the vast majority of the proceedings before delivering a score that would change the course of a game.

Barry-Murphy first established himself as a dual player with the St Finbarr’s club. He made his debut on the inter-county scene at the age of 16 when he first linked up with the Cork minor teams as a dual player.

An All-Ireland medallist in both codes, he later won a combined total of three All-Ireland medals with the U21 teams.

Barry-Murphy made his senior football debut during the 1973 championship. He went on to play a key role for Cork in attack that year, under the captaincy of Billy Morgan, and won one All-Ireland medal in a memorable victory over Galway; thus ending a 28-year famine on Leeside.

He won Munster medals and one National Football League medal.

Barry-Murphy’s 11-year career with the Cork senior hurlers saw him win five All-Ireland medals, a record-equalling 10 Munster medals and two National Hurling League medals. 

He was an All-Ireland runner-up on two occasions. 

He was a major contributor to Cork’s three-in-a-row of All-Ireland hurling triumphs in 1976, 1977 and 1978.

As a member of the Munster interprovincial team in both codes, Barry-Murphy won a combined total of five Railway Cup medals.

Throughout his inter-county career, he made 57 championship appearances. Barry-Murphy retired from inter-county activity in 1987.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy in action for the Cork hurlers in 1984, when he won his fifth senior All-Ireland, and fourth hurling. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Jimmy Barry-Murphy in action for the Cork hurlers in 1984, when he won his fifth senior All-Ireland, and fourth hurling. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Following a successful tenure as manager of the Cork minor team, culminating in the winning of the All-Ireland title, Barry-Murphy was appointed manager of the Cork senior team in October 1995 for the first time. 

That first tenure saw a return to success for the Rebel County, with Cork winning one All-Ireland Championship, two Munster Championships and one National League in 1998, before stepping down as manager in November 2000.

Barry-Murphy subsequently enjoyed unsuccessful tenures as coach with the St Finbarr’s and Cloughduv club teams.

Over a decade after stepping down as Cork manager, he was appointed for a second tenure as Cork hurling boss in 2011. Once again his managerial reign saw a return to success, with Cork winning one Munster Championship and the county lost to Clare in the replayed All-Ireland final of 2013.

In August of August 2015, Barry-Murphy was inducted into the GAA Hall of Fame, an honour that was so richly deserved for one of Cork’s most iconic sporting figures.

This year he was on the sideline when St Finbarr’s regained the Cork County Premier Minor Hurling after a lengthy gap.

No doubt his presence was a major contributory factor in that victory alongside the rest of the management team and one is certain his fervent wish is that the victory can act as a launchpad for glory in the senior championship.


WHERE do you start with a career like Ronan O’Gara’s?

When it came to dramatic conclusions the out-half usually took centre-stage and it wasn’t always with his trusty right boot either.

There was the afternoon on a bright day in D4, when O’Gara spotted a chink in the Leinster defence to cross for a game-clinching try in a memorable Heineken Cup semi-final in 2006.

And he managed to clear an advertising hurdle as well in celebrating with the thousands of Munster fans crammed into the old terracing.

O’Gara scored 13 points in the final against Biarritz in Cardiff on an afternoon, when Munster finally ended all the near-misses and heartache of being so close and yet so far.

But, he’s more associated with famous drop-goals in the colours of both Munster and Ireland, especially, when securing a first Grand Slam since 1948 with his heroics against Wales at the same Millennium Stadium.

In 2011, O’Gara snatched victory on two occasions in a week, first against Northampton Saints after 41 phases at Thomond Park and then away to Castres with another couple of nailed-on drop kicks.

And his penchant for holding his nerve and slotting difficult penalties and conversions was illustrated time and again during a glittering career.

In that same 2006 season, O’Gara silenced the Leicester Tigers crowd by smashing a penalty from his own half in a dramatic 21-19 victory at Welford Road and Saracens and Gloucester all felt the brunt of his prodigious kicking, too.

At his peak in 2006. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE
At his peak in 2006. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

O’Gara’s career ran along traditional lines, helping PBC to Munster Schools Senior and Junior Cup glory before attending UCC and then joining Cork Constitution.

But, it was with Munster that O’Gara first rose to prominence, debuting in 1997 as a 20-year-old and setting out on a Heineken Cup career which captured the hearts and minds of all followers.

Naturally, there were low points, as well, like the two final defeats to Northampton and Leicester, but O’Gara’s graph was on an upward curve.

Three years after his Munster debut, he was catapulted into the international arena as part of a raft of changes for the Six Nations game at home to Scotland.

In the green shirt, O’Gara won 128 caps and accumulated over 1,000 points, lining out against France the most, 16 times. 

Fittingly his coaching life began there, too. 

He was also selected on three Lions tours in 2001 to Australia, 05 to New Zealand and in 09 to South Africa.

O’Gara called time on his playing career in 2013 and immediately turned his attentions to coaching, beginning as defence coach with Racing 92 in Paris, where he stayed for four years.

Such was his impact that the powerful and all-conquering Crusaders from Christchurch in New Zealand came calling for his services as assistant coach and O’Gara helped them to back-to-back titles.

These days he’s head coach at La Rochelle in France.

O’Gara’s contribution to rugby was recognised in 2018, when he was inducted into World Rugby’s Hall of Fame.

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