Richie Leahy: ‘That’s the dream, to play week on week’

Kilkenny youngster Richie Leahy is looking forward to this year’s new championship format, saying “that’s the dream, to play week on week”.

The Rower-Inistioge man won a league title with the Cats this spring, building on an impressive 2017 for him. That’s parked now, however: “I suppose it was nice to get the win out of the League, we’re happy enough with that. What else can you do, just go out and win the games, we’re not going out to lose them.

“As a young fella all you want to do is play games no matter what way it is. Being able to play with the U21s for Kilkenny is just a bonus and then being able to play U21 with the senior is just greater than anything. Last year was a good year but we didn’t win anything that we wanted to win so in that sense it was a poor year as well if you get me.

“You want to win every game, you don’t want to go out and lose so this Leinster campaign is going to be tough, both U21 and senior. We have Galway or Offaly with the U21s and you’ve to play everyone with the seniors so it’s going to be a lot of games.

“Sure that is the dream, you don’t want to be training and waiting ages to play a game so being able to play all the games and show them what you’re made of is the best thing ever.”

Getting the call in to the senior squad was “unreal”, but he adds that he had to get down to business quickly under Brian Cody’s management: “I was just thinking that ‘I’ll have to go in and hurl’ so if I look back on it now I suppose it’s unreal that he’s (Brian Cody) the manager but it could be anyone.”

Was the promotion daunting or was he welcomed in?

“Oh welcomed, welcomed. Sure why would they not welcome you? That’s the good thing about it.”

Leahy caught the eye with a vital point in the league final win over Tipperary, a score he felt he needed.

“Well, I missed two easy ones before that so I was like ‘Jaysus I’m going to have to get one now so’ so I just kind of hit and hope and hope it goes over. I needed one to go over or else I would have been taken off sooner.”

Generally pressure isn’t a factor for him: “Pressure, no, but nervousness not to play bad, you never want to play bad. You’re going out to play well and there’s always that game where you could play bad and that’s not a nice feeling.”

At U21 level he’s among his peer group, but a lot of those are making their presence felt on the Kilkenny senior team.

“I know all the lads on the U21 team, we’re actually close friends because Kilkenny is such a small place you know everyone so it helps from that sense. It would be lovely to win something and have the nights out with all the panel and enjoy ourselves but I don’t know, it’s going to be tough.

“There’s a good few lads after moving up to the senior level from the U21 last year and we’re all just enjoying hurling — we’re not going in being nervous, we’re actually going in and relishing it and enjoying it.

“DJ Carey is the manager — I had him with the Fitzgibbon in IT Carlow and he’s nice as well. DJ is very passionate and he wants to get the best out of us so hopefully we can get over the semi-final, DJ is just preparing us for that.

“I’ve seen the clips growing up so I know what DJ’s like, it’s cool to be able to be managed by such a legend of the game, so hopefully now he can be a good manager.”

- Leahy was speaking at the launch of the Bord Gais Energy U21 hurling championship.

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