Juliet Murphy v Donal Lenihan: 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
Juliet Murphy v Donal Lenihan: Vote for your favourite Rebel Legend

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

JULIET Murphy or Donal Lenihan? 

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 and this poll will be open until 8am on Saturday morning.

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

JULIET MURPHY

WHEN it comes to legends of ladies football, Cork star Juliet Murphy is up there with the best of them.

When the late Eamonn Ryan took over as coach of the side he picked Juliet to captain his side, knowing he had picked a leader, on and off the field.

Her relationship with Ryan was similar to the one Roy Keane had with Fergie in their glory days. Keane was Fergie’s on-field leader and often acted out the role of manager on the field pitch. Juliet did the same for Ryan but in a more subtle manner.

That shrewd bit of business by Ryan was one of the reasons the Cork went on to enjoy the success they did as Juliet led Cork to three All-Ireland titles and was part of the winning side eight times.

Add in 10 Munster titles and nine national league titles and you get some idea of the calibre of player that Juliet was. She also won six All-Star awards and the LGFA Players’ Player of the Year.

Juliet Murphy battles Amanda Casey, Monaghan. Picture: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE
Juliet Murphy battles Amanda Casey, Monaghan. Picture: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE

Since she first made her debut in 1996 against Kerry, the primary school teacher has been one of the team’s most important players, leaders and characters.

“I was just very fortunate to be part of such a unique bunch of girls and I will remember that feeling forever. You think of the enjoyment you get from winning.

“There is nothing that I can do in my life in the future that can compare to that feeling.

The sheer euphoria, the buzz, the excitement, you are with your friends and you are part of a great team. You are honoured to be in that situation for that moment of time and you never really want to lose that feeling.

“We have a never-say-die attitude and that’s why this team is where it is today.

“People talk about luck and being lucky, but this team has deserved its victories and has made all the sacrifices to be successful.”

With seven All-Ireland titles to her name, Juliet decided it was time to retire and made the heart-wrenching decision to hang up her boots at the end of the 2012 season.

But retirement didn’t last too long and for a number of reasons, Juliet returned to the pitch.

“It was an accumulation of things really. I suppose our club situation wasn’t great, a couple of girls were injured and we were facing into the championship short a few senior players.

“I felt I was physically able to play and I would have never left my club down if they were short, so I got involved with them and then I met Nollaig (Cleary) and we just started talking.

“Then I got a couple of texts from the girls and that really was the way it all started off again. I had it in my head that if I was going to go back and help my club Donoughmore, then I would go back and help Cork also.”

That decision proved to be fruitful as Juliet played her part in making three in a row of All-Ireland titles for Cork, the second such run under Ryan.

That game was her last in the red shirt as Juliet decided it was time to go then, but her status within the game as one of the all-time greats is well and truly secured.

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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