Are GAA rules ready for new eye in the sky?
THE introduction of the Hawk-Eye point detection system in Croke Park from June 1 could spark a controversy over the introduction of a new rule which has not been approved by Congress, WRITES MARTIN BREHENY.
In certain circumstances, arising from a difference of opinion between umpires and Hawk-Eye, play will be restarted with a throw-in at midfield. However, there is no specific rule catering for such a change.
While most of the interaction between Hawk-Eye and officials is straightforward, a loophole exists in cases where a defender (more likely in hurling than football) blocks the ball above the crossbar. Up to now, umpires decided on whether the ball was over the bar at the point of contact. It was always a grey area, but Hawk-Eye will provide a definitive verdict within seconds.
The problem will arise in a situation where an umpire flags for a point, but Hawk-Eye shows that the defender prevented the ball going over the bar. Play will have to be stopped for a second for the Hawk-Eye review, by which stage the defender may have cleared the ball deep into opposition territory, possibly even setting up a scoring chance for a colleague.
If Hawk-Eye proves that the ball has not gone over the bar, an issue arises as to where play will restart after the review. GAA director of games Pat Daly told yesterday's media briefing that play would resume with a throw-in on the half-way line. He said that Central Council had the power to legislate for matters arising from the implementation of the Hawk-Eye experimental phase.
However, it's unclear from where Central Council derived the power to introduce a rule where play restarts from the half-way line in any other circumstance except the start of either half, without recourse to Congress, which is the supreme rule-making body.
It could lead to a challenge from some county later in the season if specific circumstances go against them.
Meanwhile, Pat McEnaney, chairman of the National Referees' committee, said that he didn't expect officials to become over-reliant on Hawk-Eye.
"It will be in use in Croke Park only. Umpires and referees will be used to working without it at other venues, so it's only where there's a real doubt that they'll go for it. We're saying to them: 'If there's a concern, don't be afraid to use Hawk-Eye and eliminate the chance that you might be wrong," he said.
He held discussions with international rugby referee Alain Rolland, who told him that the TMO (television match official) system was working efficiently in his sport
"He said it's now part of rugby referees' tool-kit and they use it to make their job easier. We've got to take the same approach to Hawk-Eye in our game. We've got to embrace technology, and our officials are happy to do that," said McEnaney.