Saturday 21 September 2019

Hawk-Eye's graphic detail is once more the focus of attention

Hawkeye gives the verdict on a late chance by Cormac Costello of Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Hawkeye gives the verdict on a late chance by Cormac Costello of Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile

In the final moments of an epic All-Ireland football final, Hawk-Eye again became part of the narrative - as it had done, memorably, at the end of the drawn hurling final in 2014. With Kilkenny and Tipperary deadlocked after a thrilling match, a free to win the All-Ireland by John O'Dwyer was ruled a fraction wide by technology.

On this occasion, five years later, the crowd held its breath when a right-footed kick by Cormac Costello, a late introduction for Dublin, seemed to have earned a white flag at the Davin Stand end. The call was critical with Kerry leading by a point and the game entering injury-time. The umpires signalled a score and Dublin fans celebrated but then Hawk-Eye intervened and showed the familiar graphic evidence on the stadium's big screens before ruling it wide.

Some thought that the score should have been allowed as the ball looked to have been inside the line depicting the upright. But the line in question was the blue line used when the ball goes higher than the actual uprights and when this happens the rule states clearly that if there is any contact with this so-called virtual line it is deemed a wide. The Costello effort clearly touches the blue line and the wide given was therefore a correct call.

The first GAA match to use Hawk-Eye technology was the Leinster quarter final between Offaly and Kildare in Croke Park in 2013. For the most part it has been warmly greeted and people understand that it provides an invaluable aid to umpires where they are unclear in trying to detect the flight of a ball. It is more frequently used in hurling. But when a football takes a high line like Costello's shot, the technology is a very useful tool and ends many, pardon the pun, pointless arguments.

Hawk-Eye is also in use at Semple Stadium but in Thurles no graphic appears. The use of a graphic in Croke Park, while it undoubtedly adds to the drama, may create more confusion than is necessary.

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