Johnny Leahy

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For the Tipperary hurler from the 1990s, see John Leahy (hurler).
Johnny Leahy
Personal information
Irish name Seán Ó Liathaigh
Sport Hurling
Position Midfield
Born (1890-01-01)1 January 1890
Boherlahan, County Tipperary, Ireland
Died 1 November 1949(1949-11-01) (aged 59)
Boherlahan, County Tipperary, Ireland
Nickname Captain Johnny
Occupation Farmer
Years Club
1912–1930 Boherlahan
Club titles
Tipperary titles 9
Years County
1909–1928 Tipperary
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 5
All-Irelands 2

John "Johnny" Leahy (1 January 1890 – 1 November 1949) was an Irish hurler who played as a midfielder for the Tipperary senior team.

After joining the team for a tournament game in 1909, Leahy made his proper debut during the 1914 championship and was a regular member of the starting fifteen until his retirement after the 1928 championship. During that time he won two All-Ireland medals, five Munster medals and one National League medal. An All-Ireland runner-up on two occasions, Leahy captained the team to the All-Ireland title in 1916 and 1925.

At club level Leahy was a nine-time county club championship medalist with Boherlahan-Dualla.

In retirement from playing Leahy became involved in the coaching and administrative affairs of the GAA. He served as chairman and secretary of the Tipperary County Board for lengthy periods, while he was also an All-Ireland-winning selector.

Leahy was the member of a hurling 'dynasty' in Tipperary. His younger brothers Paddy, Mick and Tommy were also All-Ireland medalists.

Playing career[edit]


Leahy played his club hurling with Boherlahan and enjoyed much success in a career that spanned almost twenty years.[1]

Founded in 1912, the club went on to contest their first championship decider just two years later. A 5–2 to 3–1 defeat by Toomevara was the result on that occasion.

The following year Boherlahan were beck in the county final once again. Thurles provided the opposition, however, a 4–4 to 1–2 victory gave Leahy his first championship medal. It was the first of an historic four-in-a-row for the club as subsequent defeats of Toomevara in 1916, 1917 and 1918 gave Leahy further winners' medals.[2]

Five-in-a-row proved beyond Boherlahan and political unrest led to the disbanding of the championship for two years.

In 1922 Boherlahan reached the county final once again. A 5–1 to 2–3 defeat of a north selection representing Toomevara gave Leahy a fifth championship medal.

Boherlahan surrendered their title the following year, however, Leahy lined out in yet another county final in 1924. An 8–3 to 1–0 defeat of a mid selection gave Leahy a sixth championship medal. A seventh medal followed in 1925 as Boherlahan defeated a Toomevara-Moneygall combination.

Leahy's side were denied a third successive championship by Moycarkey-Borris, however, back-to-back defeats of Clonoulty in 1927 and 1928 brought Leahy's championship medal tally to nine.

A defeat by old rivals Toomevara in a replay of the county final in 1930 brought the curtain down on Leahy's club hurling career.


Leahy first played for the Tipperary senior hurling team in a tournament game in 1909. It was 1914, however, before he made his championship debut.

Two years later Leahy was captain of the team as he played in his first Munster final. Cork provided the opposition on that occasion, however, Leahy collected his first Munster medal as Tipp won by 5–0 to 1–2.[3] Galway were trounced in the subsequent All-Ireland semi-final, resulting in a Tipperary-Kilkenny All-Ireland final. The game itself wasn't played until 21 January 1917 and Leahy's side got off to a poor start. Tipp fell behind by five points at half-time, however, the side fought back. Tipperary's Tommy Shanahan and Kilkenny's Dick Grace were both sent off. In spite of this Tipperary won the game by 5–4 to 3–2 giving Leahy his first All-Ireland medal.[4]

1917 saw Tipperary draw with Limerick 3–4 apiece in the Munster final. In the replay Tipp made no mistake and won comfortably, giving Leahy a second Munster. The absence of the All-Ireland semi-finals allowed Tipp to advance directly to the championship decider where Dublin provided the opposition. Tipp native Bob Mockler scored 1–2 from midfield as Dublin won the game by 5–4 to 4–2.[5]

Tipp went into decline for a number of year following this defeat, however, the team bounced back in 1922 with Leahy collecting a third Munster title as captain. Galway fell in the All-Ireland semi-final, setting up a championship decider with old rivals Kilkenny. Leahy's side were up by three points with three minutes to go, however, two quick Kilkenny goals resulted in a 4–2 to 2–6 victory for Kilkenny. It would be another forty-five years before they beat Tipperary in the championship again.[6]

Tipp surrendered their provincial crown to Limerick in 1923, however, Leahy won a fourth Munster medal as captain in 1924. Galway, the reigning All-Ireland champions, played against Tipp in the subsequent All-Ireland semi-final. It was a close affair, however, the men from the West won by a single point.

In 1925 Leahy added a fifth and final Munster medal to his collection as Tipp trounced Waterford in the provincial final. Antrim were trounced by Tipperary in the penultimate game of the championship, setting up an All-Ireland final with Galway. Tipperary started with a quick goal and never looked back. They went on to win the game by 5–6 to 1–5 giving Leahy his second All-Ireland medal as captain.

Three years later he enjoyed his final success with Tipperary. The team remained undefeated in the National Hurling League to capture the title. Leahy rretired from inter-county hurling shortly afterwards.


Leahy also lined out with Munster in the inter-provincial hurling championship. He was a non-playing substitute in the inaugural year of the competition in 1927, however, Munster were defeated by Leinster in the final. Leahy lined out as a non-playing sub once again in 1928 and captured a coveted Railway Cup medal as Leinster were accounted for.[7]

Post-playing career[edit]

In retirement from playing Leahy became involved in the administrative affairs of the GAA. He was a member of the Munster Council and also served as chairman and secretary of the Tipperary County Board.[8]

In 1937 Leahy was appointed to the selection committee of the Tipperary senior hurling team. It was a successful year for Tipp as they won their first Munster title after a lapse of seven years. A 6–3 to 4–3 defeat of reigning All-Ireland champions Limerick secured the provincial crown. The subsequent All-Ireland final pitted Tipperary against Kilkenny. A complete mismatch took place as Tipp easily defeated their near rivals by 3–11 to 0–3.

Personal life[edit]

Leahy was born in Boherlahan, County Tipperary in the heart of the Golden Vale in 1890. He was educated at the local national school and later worked on the family farm. Leahy remained a bachelor for his entire life.

Leahy came from a great sporting family with his brothers Paddy, Mick and Tommy all playing inter-county hurling at various times. Paddy won All-Ireland honours with Tipperary in 1916 and 1925. Tommy was a member of the successful Tipperary team of 1930. Mick was a substitute on the victorious team of 1916 and later moved to Cork where he played hurling with the famous Blackrock club. He won All-Ireland medals with Cork in 1928 and 1931.

Leahy also took part in the War of Independence in his native-county. One of his other brothers, Jimmy, was Vice-Comdt. of Tipperary No.2 Brigade of the Irish Republican Army.

Johnny Leahy died in January 1949.


  1. ^ "Senior county results". Premier View website. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "Famous feats". Premier View website. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Munster Senior Hurling Roll of Honour". Cork GAA website. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "First Kilkenny-Tipperary hurling final clash for 18 years". Hogan Stand website. 17 August 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Snippets of Tipperary Games". Tipp Tatler Magazine website. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "Famous Five: Tipperary-Kilkenny All-Ireland finals". Eircom Sports website. 3 September 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Railway Cup hurling". Munster GAA website. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "County Board Secretary". Tipperary GAA website. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tipperary Senior Hurling Captain
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Tipperary Senior Hurling Captain
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Patrick Meagher
Secretary of the Tipperary County Board
Succeeded by
Phil Purcell
Preceded by
Jack Finlay
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final
winning captain

Succeeded by
John Ryan
Preceded by
Frank Wall
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final
winning captain

Succeeded by
Seán Óg Murphy