Sports commentator Jimmy Magee dies aged 82

The veteran broadcaster had been ill for some time

Sports commentator Jimmy Magee dies aged 82

Jimmy Magee pictured in 2010 | Image: Leon Farrell/

Updated: 13.45

Tributes are being paid to sports commentator and journalist Jimmy Magee, who has died at the age of 82.

The veteran broadcaster had been ill for some time.

He was born in New York City and raised in Co Louth.

He joined RTÉ in 1956 and commentated on 11 Olympic Games and 12 World Cups.

He began his career in broadcasting as a reporter for the radio programme 'Junior Sports Magazine'.

The show, broadcast on a Saturday, mainly covered rugby, hockey and athletics.

He also worked a full-time position in British Rail at the time.

On leaving that post, he presented a number of sponsored radio programmes before moving to sport.

Perhaps one of his most famous commentaries was after the 'Hand of God' goal by Diego Maradona in 1986.

Magee also commented on Katie Taylor's gold medal victory at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Tributes: Higgins

In a statement, President Michael D Higgins said: "I have learned with sadness of the death of the legendary sports broadcaster, Jimmy Magee. 

"His contribution of more than 60 years of sports broadcasting is immense and earned him the deserved moniker of the 'Memory Man'. 

"He reported on some of the most iconic sporting moments in sport but also had a genuine interest in the human side of everyday sports. 

Jimmy Magee at the 2013 Irish National Elite Championships Finals | Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

"His encyclopaedic knowledge of the world of sport enabled audiences to 'Know Your Sport' and his love for sports, in particular boxing, Gaelic and soccer, was deeply infectious - as were his persuasive powers, which he demonstrated so ably when coaxing sporting heroes out of retirement for the All Stars football games and music evenings in Ballyjamesduff".

"Sabina and I express our condolences to his daughters and son, his wider family and friends. He will be missed by all those who appreciate and care for the world of sports."


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "His commentaries were legendary and based on a breadth of sporting knowledge that was peerless.

"He also had an innate sense of timing which often meant that Jimmy’s descriptions of great events became as memorable as the events themselves.

"For many Irish people, Jimmy Magee’s voice is the soundtrack of their sporting memories.

"From Maradona, to Michael Carruth, to Eamonn Coghlan and John Treacy and many, many more, he covered all the great events with a warmth, clarity and infectious enthusiasm.

"Jimmy was part of the very fabric of Irish sport. He lived and breathed it and would talk and reminisce and recall sport with anyone and everyone.

"Though Jimmy’s voice may now be silent, the wonderful memories brought to us by the Memory Man himself will live on forever."

Olympic gold medalist Katie Talyor shares a laugh with broadcaster Jimmy Magee (left) and Paddy Osborne at the National Stadium in Dublin in 2012 | Image: Mark Stedman/


Sports Minister Shane Ross has also expressed sympathy at his passing.

Minister Ross said: "Jimmy was the voice of Irish sport for many decades and his passing will be mourned by people the length and breadth of the land.

"His passion for sport and warm interest in people, and his ability to express both was central to the immense affection felt for him, both in Ireland and also abroad, particularly amongst the Irish Diaspora.

"His great knowledge of sport was epitomised by the name of Memory Man with which he was so associated over the years. I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Jimmy’s family and many friends."

His friend and colleague John Giles told Newstalk Breakfast he had a love for all sports.

"Jimmy was interested in all sports and had a great love for it, and he was always good company".

"I was with Jimmy one time... I did a piece with Jimmy, for the first time he was doing the commentary, but Jimmy knew all the facts as we know - all the facts and figures and had a great interest in it, a genuine interest in football".



RTÉ Director-General Dee Forbes said he was "a broadcasting giant".

"As a keen sports fan, Jimmy Magee helped shape my strongest and fondest early sporting memories and even during the many years I lived and worked outside the country, he was there to bring so many great sporting occasions to life in his own inimitable style.

"He knew how to make these moments mean so much more.

"Jimmy will be sorely missed by his many former colleagues and friends at RTÉ and by sports fans the length and breadth of the country.

RTÉ head of sport Ryle Nugent said: "It’s hard to put it into words, the man meant an inordinate amount to so many people.

"I think he was the soundtrack to many generations that included Michael O'Hehir, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Fred Cogley and himself, they were the original commentators and the ones we looked to when there was a major sporting event.

"Jimmy holds his own with some of the most iconic memories in broadcasting in sport in this country and rightly so.

"He was an incredibly positive human being, I never heard Jimmy start a conversation in the negative and he took that into his professional life."

In 2006 Magee was presented with a PPI Outstanding Achievement Award to mark his 50th year in broadcasting.