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Hawk-Eye lined up for its GAA debut

IRISH sporting history will be made in Croke Park tonight when the GAA finally adopts the appliance of science and put an 'eye in the sky' for the first time at one of their grounds.

The association has enlisted the British company which provides the Hawk-Eye technology for the Wimbledon tennis tournament and cricket test matches to see if their equipment can be adapted to solve some recurring judging errors in gaelic games.

The GAA is hoping that Hawk-Eye will give them the capacity to eliminate mistakes being made when scores are called incorrectly, which are particularly prevalent in hurling.

When points are disputed, the technology will detect whether the ball or sliotar has gone between the posts. The experiment is only the first step in a feasibility study and this initial trial will have no bearing on the outcome of the big Dublin double-header of Allianz League games against Down (football) and Kilkenny (hurling).

This means that officials will not be able to call on the system to adjudicate during the matches.

Several more trials will be needed before the GAA know if the system suits Gaelic games. If so, 2012 is the earliest it could be officially introduced.

Calls for technology to be introduced increased to a clamour after several high-profile cock-ups by referees and umpires last summer.

But no matter how well it works, Hawk-Eye is limited in its scope and will not be able to eliminate a certain amount of human error.

Glaring refereeing errors from last summer, such as Joe Sheridan's illegal goal that decided last year's Leinster football final, or Benny Coulter's square-ball goal in the All-Ireland semi-final, would not be covered by such technology.

Irish Independent