Kilkenny's team mascot in '45 still backing the black and amber!
By John Harrington
When Paddy Leahy takes his seat in Croke Park beside his wife Treasa on Sunday he won’t be quite so close to the action as he was back in 1945 when Kilkenny also played Tipperary in the All-Ireland Final.
On that day Paddy was the Kilkenny team mascot and marched proudly alongside Kilkenny captain Peter Blanchfield when the teams paraded around the pitch before throw-in.
The then seven-year-old Paddy was living in Donnycarney in Dublin at the time but he was a nephew of All-Ireland winning Kilkenny hurlers Tommy and Terry Leahy and it was through them he got the opportunity to be team mascot for the day.
“I thought I was a star before my time,” chuckled Leahy, when he spoke to GAA.ie this week.
“I was a bit reluctant to do the job initially to tell you the truth until Daddy said, 'Go on, you'll have a go at it'.
“I remember searching around for a black and amber jersey and in the end I think we got one down in the local College down near Scoil Mhuire on the Malahide road. There was an institution called the OBI, I think Dublin Fire Brigade is in there now at the moment.
“The jersey was a full-size jersey and I think it went down all the way below my shorts, I was just seven years of age.”
The 1945 Final took place one the same day that World War Two ended and attracted what was then a record crowd for an All-Ireland Hurling Final to Croke Park.
“It was fantastic,” said Leahy. “The attendance was 69,459 on the day and they were hanging out of the roof of the Cusack Stand.
“I remember being in the dressing-room and looking at the Kilkenny players getting ready and all of that. There was a physio giving a lad treatment up on a table and I still remember the smell of the wintergreen.
“I was on the sideline for the match then. Unfortunately Kilkenny lost the game and it didn't go down too well with the mascot when they did!”
Leahy, who is now himself living in Kilkenny, didn’t bring the Cats much luck back in 1945. Tipperary banged in four first-half goals and that was that.
He’s hopeful though that Sunday’s Final will have a happier ending.
“Oh, the black and amber!,” said Leahy, when asked who he’s backing to come out on top this Sunday.
“I have a flag ordered up the road here that's going to cost me €14 so I'm all set!
“When I was a young lad 65 was a great age and now I'm 81 myself going on 82 but I'm still able to move around.
“I think I could come on for ten minutes if Cody is stuck, but they'd want to be winning by about ten points!”