THE GAA yesterday unveiled Hawk-Eye to the national Gaelic games media, the score detection technology which will be used by referees in Croke Park this summer.
As outlined by GAA director of games officer, Pat Daly, and Pat Doherty, the Association' s national match officials manager, the software' s implementation – on an initial two-year trial – will involve two extra match-day personnel, a Hawk-Eye operative and a review official, the latter position to be manned by an inter-county referee.
According to yesterday' s demonstration, Hawk-Eye will, the GAA anticipate, be employed primarily in the case where umpires and/or the match referee is unsure whether to award a point or wide for an attempt by making a ' box' shape, similar to the signal employed by Rugby Union officials.
The Hawk-Eye operative – an employee of the company – will replay the shot, replete with virtually extended uprights in the case of a ball flying over the 13 metre post height, to determine whether the ball has passed cleanly between the posts.
Any contact whatsoever with the virtual uprights will be deemed wide in accordance with Rule Three of the GAA' s playing rules and Hawk-Eye estimate that the automated decision will be made within one second.
The replay will be shown on the screens in Croke Park and on live television when a ' Point' or ' Miss' icon will flash to indicate the decision.
There is also the facility to revisit a score which was not awarded by the umpires or referee where play continues, such as when a goalkeeper catches or, in hurling, hooks a ball back which has passed over their own crossbar.
The review official will, in that instance, communicate to the referee to review the decision and play will be stopped. It will, as the GAA had already indicated, only be used whether a dispute arises over the validity of a point, with no provision for goal detection.
"That would be absolutely possible for the GAA," explained Hawk-Eye chief executive, Steve Carter. "But it would be a different system. (They have) targeted where the biggest problem is with score detection."
On the potential for disruption to the flow of the game, Carter added: "Our experience with tennis is, if the answer is available within seconds, it does involve the crowd. Then a decision happens and the game moves on. So it wouldn' t really slow down the game. It could become something that adds to the games."
A GAA spokesperson declined to reveal the cost involved, given a sponsorship deal has been reached with optician retailers Specsavers.
Hawk-Eye' s first official use will come on Saturday June 1 during the Leinster SFC double-header, when Offaly meet Kildare before Dublin take on Westmeath or Carlow and will be utilised in every Championship match played in Croke Park this season.
"Ideally you would like to see a scenario where you would have Hawk-Eye in every ground," explained Pat Daly, citing "logistical and cost reasons".
"But it is only in the initiation process. After the trial, I think we would be in a better position to see where we would go from there."