Saturday 25 March 2017

Huge annual costs of Hawk-Eye technology a major turn-off for GAA

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

THE prospect of Hawk-Eye score-detection technology being introduced at GAA venues has receded dramatically due to the high costs involved.

The Irish Independent has learned that it would cost €500,000 per year to deploy the system at all championship venues, making it highly unlikely that the GAA will proceed.

They baulked last year at the installation of countdown clocks at county grounds because it involved a one-off outlay of €250,000, so it's difficult to envisage them allocating double that amount for Hawk-Eye on a yearly basis.

Costs apart, there are doubts over whether the technology, which is used in tennis and cricket to decide the exact placing of the ball in crucial calls, could be reliably applied to Gaelic football and hurling goalposts. There are fears that it could lead to more problems than solutions, especially on windy days when posts sway.

However, Hawk-Eye would probably be tried out on an experimental basis for a season, if it weren't for the costs. The necessary technology could be fitted in Croke Park on a permanent basis, but it would not be viable to do likewise at all championship venues.

That would necessitate fitting the system at various grounds on a match-by-match basis, which increases costs.

Suggestions that Hawk-Eye would be fitted in Croke Park only -- initially at least -- will not be entertained by the GAA authorities on the grounds that all championship games have to be played under the same conditions and it would be unfair to differentiate between venues on such a crucial issue.

The Gaelic Players' Association came out in support of Hawk-Eye this week, pointing out that anything which helped to get scoring calls right was welcome.

Their intervention came three days after the latest score row, which saw Limerick awarded a controversial point against Wexford in last Saturday's football qualifier in Portlaoise.

The GAA's Management Committee are due to discuss Hawk-Eye at their next meeting, but it now seems highly unlikely that they will recommend that it be trialled on even an experimental basis next year. Instead, other methods of improving score-detection will be sought.

Irish Independent

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