Downey's mellifluous voice silenced but rich legacy of his work remains
And even though it is a while now since the byline of Paddy Downey last appeared, the rich archive he has left of those countless journeys to the great GAA cathedrals will continue to shine. Tens of thousands of people attended the blazing championship matches in the 1950s and 1960s but when the sun fell and the field was empty, there was only a few left in the ground to chronicle them and record them. Paddy did it in a way that transported people to the very dust and heat of the games of he covered.
You could pick innumerable examples but the mind turns to the tribute he wrote to his friend Christy Ring a week after the Cloyne man died suddenly in 1978.
“Curiously I remember most clearly of all the day in 1963 which marked the end of his intercounty career. It was a day of June sunshine and Cork were playing Clare in the Munster championship at Thurles. As we waited for the teams to appear the word came to the press box on the sideline that Ring was off the Cork team. Within minutes you could sense that the news of his absence was spreading through the crowd and the low murmur all round seemed like one voice uttering disappointment.
“And as we stood for the anthem with the light wind billowing the flag against the white clouds and the blue sky, I knew by some instinctive foresight that Christy Ring would not again be seen wearing the red jersey of Cork in a championship game in Thurles or any other ground. It was like finishing the last page and closing a book which you had read with delight but which yet you put aside with regret because now the story was ended and the day was done.”