Claire Coughlan v Roy Keane: 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
Claire Coughlan v Roy Keane: Vote for your favourite Rebel Legend

Enter our competition and be in with a chance to win €200.

CLAIRE Coughlan or Roy Keane? 

The Echo is running a fun contest 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.

We started with 32 contenders and are now into the last 16. Keane will be the favourite here but Coughlan got a huge vote in the last round.

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 updates on the winners in each round.


ONE of many notable performances during Claire Coughlan’s glittering golf career came during the Curtis Cup in 2005 in Formby, Merseyside.

The Cork Golf Club member was the only Irish player in the GB+I team, which had another Cork representative in Ada O’Sullivan, the non-playing captain.

Although the US won 10-8 thanks to taking the Saturday singles 5-1, Claire had the distinction of winning all her three matches.

She partnered Scotland’s Anne Laing to 1 up and 3/2 foursomes wins over their American opponents, who included 14-years-old Michelle Wie.

And in the final day’s singles, Claire recorded a 2-up victory over Brittany Lang to complete a memorable weekend personally, though tinged with the obvious disappointment of going so close to overall success.

Two years later Claire was picked for the Curtis Cup team again in Oregon, where the Americans retained the title.

Born a 9-iron from the first tee at the Little Island club, Claire was encouraged and tutored by her grandfather Mick Twohig, a formidable player in his own right who also acted as caddy.

By the time Claire had reached the age of 14 she had already been crowned national U16 champion and from there she progressed through the ranks to blossom into one of the great golfers in these parts.

Her obvious potential was realised at just 19, when she defeated Kilkenny’s Eileen Rose Power to win the Irish Close title in Carlow in 1999, having been the Irish Junior Golfer of the Year the season before.

Claire became the youngest winner in 47 years of the prestigious championship and it was a year in which Claire was selected for the British Women’s Championship at Royal Birkdale, the Ireland team for the European Championships in Versailles and the Home Internationals in Scotland.

The National Strokeplay title found its way to Little Island as well in 2003, when Claire spread-eagled the strong field to win by seven shots in Rathsallagh, tightening her grip with a brilliant four under par 69 in the second round of the 54-hole event.

A couple of years later Claire managed to reach the final of the British Amateur Championship in Nairn, Scotland, a brilliant achievement in its own right.

There, she came up against the defending champion, Sweden’s Louise Stahle, whose experience helped reclaim the title with a 3/2 victory.

Also, in 2005, Claire was a member of the successful GB+I side, which defeated Continent of Europe 13-10 at Chantilly.


Another crowning chapter in her career came in 2006, when she led Cork GC to their first Irish Senior Cup triumph in 79 years, defeating Co Louth 3/2 in an exciting final played in Massereen, Co Antrim.

Claire’s 3/1 victory over her fellow international Deirdre Smith helped secure a precious point in a very tight decider, Cork having defeated Royal Co Down in the semi-final.

Claire was also a proud member of the Munster team through the years and was one of the stars in the 2003 team, which broke the Leinster and Ulster grip on the title.

Claire spent a few years in the professional ranks, securing her Ladies’ European Tour card at her first attempt in 2007 before returning to amateur ranks.

More recently she has passed on her knowledge and experience as non-playing captain to a variety of representative teams, including the GB+I junior Vagliano Trophy side.


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!”

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