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Sunday, 20 July 2008

Let's Remember The Best Of The Memory Man

Tonight I watched The Lee-Gibbs fight from the University of Limerick on RTE Two. Grand fight. Good to see Lee back fighting fit. I felt he was robbed against Vera but toinght he put that behind him. He took some nice shots but threw more of his own. Good to see a genuinely nice guy get on in the world.

However, I'm not going to talk about him tonight. I want to talk about Jimmy Magee.

For those of you not from Ireland, Jimmy Magee has been one of the key voices of sport here since before the Stone Age. He commentated on some of the biggest moments in sport - Ireland's Quarter Final in Italia 90, McGuigan beating Pedroza and England-Argentina in 1986. However, as you've probably noticed... Jimmy isn't the youngest these days. His Wikipedia entry says that he is 73, though I wouldn't be surprised if it's off by a century or two.

Now, I am a big fan of The Memory Man. He was involved in Know Your Sport (God rest it's soul) which is worth three thumbs up from me right off the bat. Yet I'm almost certainly in the minority. Forum posts here and here give you an idea of what some people think of him, and they're just from tonight. Unfortunately, they're probably correct too.

I realise that Jimmy has had a tough year. It can't have been easy to bury a son, and I know he's not long off a serious illness. For him to come back to work is remarkable. He's also probably the most suited man to talk about the history of sport - I for one would love to read his thoughts on some of the great sporting events his been to. Yet, I really never want to hear him commentate again. His best days are behind him - just see the 'Blue Panther' episode for proof. There was also one line tonight which really does not belong in the commentary of a fight:

Lee is like poetry in motion...But not like poetry you get in a book...This poetry......... has a hammer on the end of it!

Like a lot of people, I'd be very happy to see Jimmy hang up his microphone and take a well deserved retirement. However, I won't attack him like others. Jimmy was a fine broadcaster, a man who has an enthusiasm for sport that is remarkable. He loves his job, and if I were him I'd be in no rush to leave it either. And to those who want him to leave, and attack him for a lack of knowledge, remember the great times. Remember how he let Maradona's feet do the talking and how he named every Irish Olympic medalist as John Tracey won silver in 1984.

Yes, it may be time for Jimmy to go, but not before we thank and hail him as a broadcasting great.


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