Wednesday 28 September 2016

Picture perfect - except for foul play

Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30

Sharper pictures from new HD screens will enhance the viewing experience at Croke Park
Sharper pictures from new HD screens will enhance the viewing experience at Croke Park

Croke Park is to have two new HD screens in place for this year's championship action, replacing their standard definition 10-year-old predecessors.

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Sharper pictures will enhance the viewing experience - except, of course, for incidents considered unsuitable for sensitive eyes.

Then, the screens go blank while the referee deals with the incident, sometimes with the help of umpires or linesmen.

They all have to rely on what they saw - or didn't see - in real time when a re-run on a big screen would often be far more enlightening.

The big screens are regularly used in rugby to assist the referee in disciplinary matters, a policy not favoured by the GAA.

One of the arguments against using the screens to review foul play is that they are fitted in Croke Park only, which would effectively mean a two-layered disciplinary system.

But then, that has applied with Hawk-Eye for the past few years, although it's now on its way to Thurles too.

There were some initial misgivings about Hawk-Eye's presence at one venue only, which effectively led to different rules being in operation depending on where games were played.

However, the counter-view held that anything that cut down on umpiring errors was welcome, even if applied at one venue only.

Of course the long term objective is to have Hawk-Eye at all the major grounds outside Croke Park, starting with Semple Stadium this summer.

Whatever about using the large screens to review foul play, there's no reason why they are so strictly off limits for other incidents.

As it stands, the merest whiff of controversy brings the censor's cold hand into play immediately, often unnecessarily.

After all, why should a guilty party be protected?

Irish Independent

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