By Brian McCabe
For those of us who grew up with black-and-white television in the 1970s, the mellifluous tones of Jim Sheridan commentating on the Five Nations tournament (yes, it was ‘five nations’ back then) were an integral part of our enjoyment of those matches.
His knowledgeable commentary, and precise identification of individual players, was vital in those back and white days when it could be hard to distinguish between players on the field who, to the viewer, were all playing in slightly different shades of grey-coloured jerseys!
One recalls, with gratitude, his well-informed comment on the Irish greats such as Mike Gibson, Tom Kiernan (who has also sadly, left us) and the years of contest between Tony Ward and Ollie Campbell for the coveted number 10 jersey.
I don’t recall Jim ever expressing a preference between that particular duo – a very wise move, given that the argument as to which was the better, still continues.
Jim was born, in 1940, in Mountjoy Street in Dublin and attended the famous O’Connell School before securing a scholarship to University College, Dublin where he got a BA in Irish and English. While still a student, he began working for the new Irish television service, which was then based at the side of the GPO in O’Connell Street, as a part-time continuity announcer.
Jim got his first job in RTÉ in 1961 as a news reader, helped by his fluency in Irish. His clear pronunciation and articulation were a testament to his time in the news room. He soon switched however to sports commentary and, in the years following, went on to become a reliable reporter for the station on a range of different sports, including covering Ireland’s participation in several Olympic Games.