God knows, RTE have got their money’s worth from Jimmy Magee over the years.
Yet his gift keeps giving. As other stations content themselves with broadcasting in added dimensions, Jimmy knew more was possible. So he quietly fashioned a time machine.
Now he can commentate in the future.
“Whether you’re watching this on television or you’re looking at it later on a DVD from somebody’s prized collection, you’re happy to say, I should think, that you lived in the year 2012, when a 26-year-old Irish women from Bray in county Wicklow came to London for the Games of the 30th Olympiad in the company of Zaur Antia, the Georgian coach, and her own beloved father and did the business in style.”
Pride tumbled out of Jimmy without the puncture of a breath like he was landing a flurry of jabs. It was a suitable tribute to the marvellous Katie Taylor, who is known to us now, as we marvel, cherish and wince, as just ‘Katie.’ Before Katie strode out at the ExCel Arena yesterday to the strains of Rihanna’s Only Girl in the World, the assembled boxing luminaries in Montrose were similarly dismissive of the planet’s inventory of ladies. Certainly Tajikstan’s.
Kenny Egan would join Jimmy in the future. “It’s going to be a tough one tomorrow. But I think it’s all over today.” Michael Carruth’s leap of faith was as high as his celebratory one 20 years ago this day: “It’s about conserving energy for tomorrow.”
“Let’s not count the chickens before this important hatching,” urged Jimmy before the bell, but Mick Dowling had already scoffed the eggs.
“I’m not nervous at all today. I wasn’t able to eat my breakfast before the Jonas fight. But I had a good Irish breakfast this morning.”
Too much hype? Maybe Marty Morrissey was right to call it the “Excess Arena”.
“All on the shoulders of this young girl from Bray, young lady from Bray, young woman from Bray. That should cover it all,” danced Jimmy early on, ducking a hook from the ever-vigilant language feminists who would still pin him against the ropes on Twitter for telling us Katie “punched like a man and takes it like a man.”
Low blows. Because Jimmy was just spilling admiration everywhere like a careless plasterer.
Admiration for Katie’s tekkers: “Chorieva trying to make herself a small target, but Katie is on satnav here.” For her aggression: “There are four emergency exits in this stadium and that’s the only way Chorieva’s gonna get out of this round.” For her very existence: “Oh Lord, she’s terrific.”
By the end, Bray was delirious too, but Jimmy’s eye was back on the future.
“We still have one more stop on the dart line.”
Gold, we hope, not Greystones.
And how close did we come yesterday afternoon to an unscheduled early stop on the very top of a podium? Cian O’Connor almost became London’s answer to Denmark in 1992, after Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson’s late withdrawal followed Denis Lynch’s 11th-hour omission to complete his parachute ride into the final of the individual showjumping.
In studio, Tom Freyne assured us this wouldn’t be an opportunity passed up through lack of preparation. “He’s the ultimate pro. He doesn’t drink or smoke. He won’t have been out last night.”
In truth, those of us with long, bitter memories were more concerned about Blue Loyd’s intake than Cian’s and the scale of the muttering that has surrounded O’Connor for eight years must have formed almost as big an obstacle yesterday as some of Greenwich Park’s colourful fences.
The commentary didn’t quite match Jimmy’s earlier effusiveness. The Halls weren’t decked with jolly, but in their customary, mannered way, Robert and John acknowledged that these were rides to redemption as much as bronze.
“It’s a funny old game. One day you’re up, one day you’re down. He had his moments in Athens and after Athens. But his horses have been totally medication-free in the last eight years.”
Nor, as Freyne pointed out, did they have Katie’s satnav installed. “No computers come with these horses. You’ve just got to ride by feel.”
After all that had gone before, we had a good feel too about Paddy. And two Barnestorming rounds had Devendro Singh Laishram thrashing wildly. “Even the swallows outside could see that one coming,” roared Jimmy.
And five swallows now made this our best summer since Melbourne, even if Paddy had to survive an “Indian monsoon” in the third.
This time Jimmy was living in the moment. “Barnes becomes, right in front of your very eyes, the very first Irish boxer to win medals at two Olympic Games.”
As Wednesdays go, it was up there.
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