Linda Mellerick v Rob Heffernan: 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
Linda Mellerick v Rob Heffernan: Vote for your favourite Rebel Legend

Vote for your favourite Rebel Legends each day.

LINDA Mellerick or Rob Heffernan? 

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 Tuesday morning.

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

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.

ROB HEFFERNAN

FEW athletes competing as individuals on a world stage captured the essence of Corkness better than race-walker Rob Heffernan.

It’s only when you glance at not just his impressive medal collection, but his participation in so many major championships that you start to appreciate his immense contribution to his particular discipline.

And race-walking isn’t just any sport. You only have to look at the courage, determination, sheer bloody-mindedness and the skill and technique to understand the high degree of difficulty, at all levels.

Heffernan took huge pride in representing his club Togher AC, Cork, and Ireland during a memorable career, which took in five Olympic Games, half-a-dozen World Championships, two European Championships as well as five World Race Walking Cups and the same again in Europe’s equivalent.

Pride of place are the gold medal won at the World Championships in Moscow in 2013 and the two bronze medals from the London Olympics the year before and the Europeans in Barcelona in 2010.

Race walking is unlike most other track events and even sport in general because the threat of disqualification hangs over every athlete throughout, from the starter’s gun to crossing the finishing line.

It just adds to the overall package because there’s the added mental strain of not knowing, when a fussy official will reach for his cards, signalling his displeasure at breaching the strict rules.

Literally, one step out of place could be the ruination of a walker and at a critical stage of a race, too.

Heffernan showed the mental courage of a true champion on that famous Moscow day seven years ago and how fitting that he eclipsed the local favourite, Mikhail Ryzhov, on his own patch, as well.

Rob Heffernan. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Rob Heffernan. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Only the season before Heffernan suffered the heart-break of a fourth-placed finish in London, squeezed out of the medals in a race won by another Russia, Sergey Kirdyapkin, who was later stripped of his medal because of a drug offence and Heffernan promoted to third.

This time though the Cork walker would leave no doubt about the merit of his achievement, shrugging off the prospect of being just one warning away from getting kicked out of the race.

Heffernan was with the leading pack at half-way in the gruelling 50km event when it broke up, leaving him and the local favourite to battle it out for gold.

In the end, Heffernan strode away with a few kilometres to go and had over a minute to spare, when crossing the line, becoming the country’s first world champion since Sonia O’Sullivan in 1995.

Heffernan was also the first male world champion in 30 years since Eamonn Coghlan’s exploits in 1983.

It was the crowning moment in a glittering career, which came to an end, when Heffernan called it a day two years ago, aged 40.

He bowed out on his own terms and left a legacy that will endure for generations to come.

There was no prouder Corkman to represent his city and county.

More in this section

Sponsored Content