Friday 28 November 2014

Blog: GAA can't stand for Hawk-Eye being more miss than hit

Published 19/08/2013 | 12:23

1 June 2013; A 'miss' is displayed on the big screen following a decision made as a result of the Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd cameras being used for the first time at a game in Croke Park. Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship, Quarter-Final, Offaly v Kildare, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
A 'miss' is displayed on the big screen following a decision made as a result of the Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd cameras
Branislav Ivanovic's header is judged to have been kept out by Hull Keeper Allan McGregor

While footballs fans across the water salivate over their new goal-line technology, GAA supporters are left reeling after the state-of-the-art Hawkeye system was found to be fallible.

It was hard to get overly excited about the graphic used at Croke Park before yesterday but its success was rightly hailed from all quarters since its arrival on the scene this year but that sense of certainty will forever be tarnished now.

Human error occurs in all walks and digital technology suffers glitches but it can’t happen in the public arena and on the biggest stage of all.

To train and hone your body for 10 months and develop an understanding as a collective group to an extent that you can possibly achieve something special and have it denied by an erroneous call is galling but when that call is made by a faceless machine, where is the accountability?

In the hours after Brian Nash’s point was ruled as a “miss”, even though the graphic showed the sliotar had passed inside the left upright, Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic powered a header at Hull’s Allan McGregor who cleared the ball at the second time of asking.

The ‘Goal Decision System’ clearly showed that the entire ball had not crossed the threshold of the goal-line and the specialised watches worn by the ref didn’t vibrate to indicate that a goal had been scored.

The graphic was so slick, giving a number of angles to demonstrate that the ball had been kept out and zooms in on the ball looking vertically down and clearly showing whether or not a goal should be awarded.

Contrast this with the Croke Park version which offers one angle from behind the goals, the trajectory of the ball is mapped by a red line whether the shot is successful or not and now the graphic generation has suffered an error.

And another thing, why do we need confirmation after the graphic clearly shows a point has been scored that a score is a “point” or a “miss”? In tennis when a call is challenged and the system reveals an error the umpire makes the call. Simple.

Is there anyone watching who needs to be told that the object of the game is to put the ball between the uprights?

I’m not suggesting that the system needs to be flasher, it needs to be accurate and fit-for-purpose. This system is not in place to enhance the viewing experience. It is there to ensure that human error doesn’t curtail human endeavour in the playing of our national games.

Would a TV match official, akin to rugby, with access to the countless cameras around GAA headquarters be as good and cost-effective?

Tennis and cricket have benefitted hugely from the adoption of this system where the margin for error is tiny and the reliance and burden on eagle-eyed officials has been lessened.

Hawkeye revealed that the extent of how often match officials got it wrong but the Croke Park experiment has merely illustrated that in the majority of cases, umpires get it right.

The majority of games in the GAA Championship have taken place outside Croke Park with little or no incidents so why did the GAA need to fork out a reported €200,000 on it?

Hawkeye can’t make a ruling on whether or not a goal has been scored and in the six months it has been in operation, we can’t really say that it has altered greatly the outcome of a game. Goals change games as the old saying goes, do points?

Soccer needed it, without a doubt. Goals are seismic events in that code and you only have to be wrong once to decide a game.

The GAA have assured us that the system will be back up and running next Sunday for Mayo v Tyrone and the system will be reviewed following the All-Ireland Football final.

Yesterday’s debacle leaves a lot for Croke Park to consider.

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