In 14 seasons in the League of Ireland, Leahy scored 162 league goals, including 22 in the 1958-59 season.
Leahy began his football career with Dunbar Celtic and North End in Cork before signing for Evergreen United in 1956. He scored on his League of Ireland debut at the age of 18 against Shamrock Rovers in the Shield at the start of the 1956-57 season. He moved on to Cork Celtic when they replaced Evergreen in the League and finished his career with a season at Limerick before being forced to call it a day because of a back injury.
He was twice a runner-up in both the League and FAI Cup but won Shield and Top Four medals. Although named in various squads, Leahy never won a senior international cap but he was a regular for the League of Ireland representative side, for whom he scored seven goals.
FAI president Tony Fitzgerald said: “I knew Donal Leahy as a footballer and a friend. I played against him on many occasions and he was always a tough but fair opponent. I was also a Cork Celtic supporter so he was a big hero of mine and everybody in the League of Ireland admired him for his goal-scoring ability.
“He leaves us with many happy memories and I would like to offer my sympathies to his family and friends.”
FAI chief executive John Delaney said: “On behalf of the Football Association of Ireland I would like to extend our sympathy to the Leahy family, and in particular Donal’s wife Pauline and his children Ann, Carol, Martina, Lynda and Kym, on their sad loss. Donal Leahy was one of the top players in the League of Ireland in the 1960s and is regarded as one of the finest players to come out of Cork.”
Rosary takes place this evening at 3.15pm at O’Connors Funeral Home, North Gate Bridge, Cork, followed by removal to the North Cathedral. Mass at 1pm on Monday, with funeral afterwards to St Catherine’s Cemetery, Kilcully.