Saturday 18 November 2017

Cost biggest obstacle to Hawkeye

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GAA will take its first tentative steps towards introducing goal-line technology when a formal presentation is made to the management committee on Saturday.

Members of Croke Park's research committee have already had a technical presentation from English company Hawkeye Innovations, which have successfully introduced their software into tennis and cricket to determine close calls over the last number of years.

Now members of the GAA's management committee will be asked by the research committee, headed by Dublin's Sean Donnelly and also includes Croke Park's Pat Daly, to approve a feasibility study into the potential for technology to be introduced for championship matches in the future.

This year's championship was mired in controversy over key scores where officials made wrong calls and this has hastened the exploration of devices that can bring greater accuracy.

"What we would be proposing is that technology would be used for score detection purposes only," said Daly.

"Hawkeye technology would be able to provide quick determination to a video match official on square ball infringements or whether a player is inside or outside the area where penalties are concerned -- but that is not what we want to explore."

The detail being presented to management comes as St Kevin's in Kildare, the club that successfully brought the motion regarding the taking of sideline kicks from behind the lines last year, calls for video technology to be introduced at all championship games at this weekend's county convention in the K Club.

Kildare were on the receiving end of a wrong call last August when Down's Benny Coulter scored a goal in an All-Ireland semi-final, despite being in the square at the point of contact.

The presentation will be based on the fundamentals involved, including the cost of introducing it at venues.

The issue of cost is likely to be the biggest barrier, however, given that the attempt to introduce digital clocks to all venues, on foot of a motion at last year's Congress, failed when a figure of €250,000 was deemed too excessive.

It has been floated that Hawkeye technology could be 'cost neutral,' but that would be dependent on attracting a sponsor for the replays, Daly admitted.

In tennis, the Rolex logo appears with replays in Wimbledon, while cricket has struck a deal with Specsavers in the past.

"It was suggested that the technology could be cost neutral, but there are broadcasting and commercial issues involved there," said Daly. "The other big issue is the reach into all county grounds. It has to be available for all championship matches, that much is clear."

Six specific cameras at each venue would be required so that the technology could work to the optimum.

Daly also admitted that if green lights were provided all the way, there would still be no way the system could be in place for the 2011 championship.

roll out

"It's our estimation that will take at least six months and probably 12 months to roll out. There would first have to be a test phase and then a roll out phase," he said.

Hawkeye innovations provide virtual recreations of scores to determine their legitimacy, so even balls that soar above the height of the posts can be tracked successfully.

"There are lots of different issues attached to this. Cost will be a big one, so too would roll out to all county grounds," acknowledged Daly.

"But a lot of work has been put in by the committee. There is confidence that the system works and that when it hasn't, it has been due to human error, not technical error by the system."

Management may also discuss an imminent report by director general Paraic Duffy on the payments to managers and coaches at all levels of the GAA. Duffy is due to put forward a discussion paper on the matter, but with no Central Council meeting scheduled for Saturday after last weekend's cancellation, that may now be deferred.

Irish Independent

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