Saturday 16 December 2017

Virtual posts causing optical illusion for Hawk-Eye

A screengrab of Hawk-Eye’s interpretation of Lester Ryan’s strike
A screengrab of Hawk-Eye’s interpretation of Lester Ryan’s strike
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The hawk never stops looking but it doesn’t always see things like the rest of us. Hawk-Eye score detection technology can, in fact, make your eyes deceive you.

Take an incident from last Sunday’s Leinster hurling final when Kilkenny’s Lester Ryan fired over what he thought was a point in the fourth minute. The umpires agreed but as the white flag was being waved, Hawk-Eye intervened.

All eyes were on the big screens and within seconds a graphic flashed up, clearly showing the red line representing the flight of the ball passing inside the blue line (the upright).

A point for Kilkenny then?  Actually no. A large ‘Níl’ sign quickly followed, much to everyone’s surprise. So how can Hawk- Eye show the graphic image of the ball inside the post, yet call the shot wide?

According to Feargal McGill, GAA head of games administration,  it’s all to do with virtual posts, which come into play if the ball is above the upright.

An invisible beam, representing the upright, continues into the sky, inviting Hawk-Eye to make its next call. Ryan’s shot was higher than the upright so Hawk-Eye had to decide whether it was inside or outside the electronic beam.

If the image of the ball makes even minimal contact with the beam, it’s automatically deemed to be wide, unlike when the actual ball is below the top of the upright, in which case it cannons back into play, goes wide or over for a point in a clearly identifiable manner.

The GAA decided that when the ball is higher than the uprights, Hawk-Eye would deem it be to be wide if any contact whatsoever was made with the beam.

“It was felt that was the fairest way to go,” said McGill.

That’s the technical explanation but it can cause confusion. Surely, it would be better if the Hawk-Eye graphic showed a wide every time rather than sometimes creating the impression – as in last Sunday’s game – that a point has been scored when, in fact, it was deemed to be wide because some contact has been made with the beam.

Hawk-Eye is in use in Croke Park and Semple Stadium only but in the case of the Thurles venue no graphic appears. Instead, the display board  merely shows whether the shot is deemed to be a point or a wide.

Irish Independent

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