Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: Jim in his jammies and a Knight to remember

And so on Sunday night on BBC1 Northern Ireland it was off to delayed highlights from the big fight of the week.

What a disappointment it proved to be as it was Brian Magee’s fight against Lucian Bute and not extended action from the Boys’ Model v St. Mary’s final at Ballyskeagh.

It was a busy old week for the boys and girls of Broadcasting House, the usual fine job carried out on the respective schools’ cups for rugger and GAA (just a shame the Irish League isn’t deemed worthy of similar coverage, but we’ve been here before).

And while it was reasonably quiet on the St Paddy’s Day front from students in the Holylands, the younger footballing pupils gave Newsline something exciting to do, although it was more black and blue than green.

Back at Ravenhill and when the lights went out Jim Neilly settled down in his Willie John McBride pyjamas and Mike Gibson sleeping bag to stay over for the visit of the Dragons.

But Magee’s fight in Montreal meant that Stephen Watson-Live packed up his French phrase book, moose outfit and a couple of jars of maple syrup and went across the Atlantic, opening the door for Gavin Andrews to step into the breach at Ravenhill.

And while we’re on the subject of people getting their chance in the spotlight, good to see Nikki Gregg, usually consigned to the Sportsound studio on Radio Ulster, finally getting a chance on telly and doing a fine job.

And who should drop by at the rugger but old Ulster hero Simon Mason, so it was fitting that Ruan Pienaar’s fairytale drop goal brought back memories of the 1999 European Cup hero’s antics.

Jim had no time for reunions though as he was in the commentary seat for Magee’s bout with Bute, while John Duddy popped up to join Winker beside the ring.

Worryingly the Derry man seems to be going down the Nadine Coyle route with his accent, but I was the same when I moved from Ballymena to Ballymoney, people south of Glarryford couldn’t understand a word I said.

I’m not sure if Jim was in Canada or in a cupboard off Ormeau Avenue but I don’t really care as is usually the case he was the star of the show.

I mean, who else would give you facts such as Bute is ‘Montreal’s favourite adopted Romanian’ — and that’s up against some pretty stiff opposition I’m sure.

There was better to come, giving us a breakdown on the judges with the IBF supervisor for the evening a Hiawatha Knight, surely the best name ever and a sitcom just waiting for Peter Kay.

It wasn’t all good. Somewhere between Montreal and Belfast we appeared to lose a couple of rounds in the highlights, two of Magee’s better ones by all accounts.

I’m sure he’d rather they hadn’t show the last couple, as Bute hit him with a couple of tomahawks to the body that Mr Knight would have been proud of and it was all over.

“Brian Magee was there or thereabouts,” Jim explained. Indeed. Certainly he was never out of the first two.

Bute though has refused a rematch as there’s no way he’s going near Ballyskeagh.

Belfast Telegraph

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