HONOURED and thrilled were just two of the words used by our Echo Rebel Legends winner Sandie Fitzgibbon after hearing the news that she beat 32 of Cork’s most loved sports stars to win this event.
The tournament, which captured the hearts and minds of the city and county over the past month, drew 19,959 votes online with Fitzgibbon pulling in 54.7% of the vote in the final against Rena Buckley.
That two female competitors reached the decider shows how strong women’s sport is in Cork, with former All-Ireland camogie winner with Cork and Glen Rovers, who was also a brilliant basketballer for Blarney and Ireland, coming up trumps.
“I am honoured and thrilled to win this competition,” Fitzgibbon said.
“Just to have been picked as one of the 32 entrants was incredible. When you look at the quality of the field, I am a little shocked and very humbled that the people of Cork still remember my name.
“I was very lucky to play with some great players and great teams during my time as an athlete. Without their help and success, I would not have achieved what I did both on the pitch and on the basketball court.
“I would like to thank The Echo who gave us all a big boost during a time when we all are starved of our beloved sports.”
Hugely skillful, Fitzgibbon was also a warrior on the pitch or hardwood.
“The Glen were a great team at the time and Blarney were also a super basketball team. I gave it everything I had each day I played and I’m glad the people of Cork have remembered that.
“It was a great thrill to represent Cork and win All-Ireland titles and likewise I was lucky to play for my country and do well there too. I want to thank all those who voted for me over the past few weeks.”
Her family, friends and club colleagues were out in force across each round, with Sandie getting the better of Billy Morgan, Denis Irwin, Rob Heffernan, Roy Keane and Rena.
I can’t believe I beat Roy Keane in the semi-final. He is an icon of Irish sport, but my sisters, my family and my clubs, the Glen and Brunell have been incredible in campaigning for me and getting people to support my cause.
“This is very emotional for me. It’s a great honour and it means so much to me, just to know people appreciated how I played and what I did in my career so many years after I played, means a huge amount to me.”
Runner-up Rena Buckley, always a class act on and off the field, paid tribute to Sandie on her win.
“I am delighted to have reached the final, but there is no shame in losing to Sandie. She was an amazing camogie player and a great person. She was actually an idol of mine growing up, so fair play to her!
“I didn’t think I would reach the final. There were some incredible players and athletes in this competition and it was great fun voting for others every day.
“I am very happy that people thought highly enough of me to vote for me throughout the competition and I want to thank them all for their support, especially those people who organised it for others to vote for me.”