Big screen raises a major point
GAELIC GAMES:THE SIGHT of Dublin’s Eoghan O’Gara kicking a point on Croke Park’s big screen during the Leinster football final last Sunday has once again raised the issue of technology being used in Gaelic games to determine scores.
O’Gara’s point was initially waved wide by an umpire, on instruction from referee Marty Duffy. However, a combination of the protests from Dublin manager Pat Gilroy, having viewed O’Gara’s shot curl between the posts on the big screen, and the intervention of linesman Maurice Deegan prompted Duffy to change his mind.
“You could say that is a good example of communication between match officials,” said GAA head of games Pat Daly.
Referee chief Pat McEnaney, whose brother Séamus is the Meath manager, was unavailable for comment yesterday but the GAA did confirm that Deegan made the decision, in real time, without being influenced by the big screen replay.
“Maybe that’s something we should take out of today and have a man upstairs to make those bad decisions good again,” said Séamus McEnaney.
Last May the GAA’s director general Páraic Duffy revealed the introduction of the Hawkeye system, as used in cricket and tennis, on a two-year trial period in Croke Park had been postponed due to a number of glitches.
These are currently being ironed out, Daly said yesterday.
“There have been environmental issues,” Daly explained, while noting the timing of receiving information has been significantly reduced from 25-30 seconds to a single second.
“We discovered that a very hot sun could cause problems and if the goal posts were swaying in the wind that could cause problems as well. If one post was in front of the other that could cause problems.
“We are working our way through it. I am happy we are making progress.”
The cost issue of Hawkeye, initially estimated at €500,000 to install around the country, is not seen as a major barrier as Daly explained sponsorship – Rolex currently sponsor the use of Hawkeye at Wimbledon – would be sought.
“The plan has been to use Hawkeye for two years in Croke Park on a trial basis. It is anticipated that revenues incurring from the use of this system would potentially pay for it. In other words it could cost nothing, but I think it would be completely premature, at this stage, to be talking about using it right across the country. “
Páraic Duffy stated on May 31st: “I suppose, to be honest, it has proved to be more of a technical challenge than we anticipated originally. Clearly, football and hurling are different games to tennis and cricket.
“It is not going to happen until we are absolutely certain it is working but is still the aim to get it working this summer.”
Daly also confirmed a television match official, similar to professional rugby, is not presently being considered by the GAA.
“There is no position for a TMO within the (currently trialling) system or a reference to the big screen in terms of the decision making process.
“Basically, there are three systems being trialled at present. You have the Hawkeye system for score detection, a communication system with referees and a system whereby the information is conveyed via the broadcast media. Three separate systems where we are trying to create one seamless system working in full harmony.”
The big screen replay on Sunday quickly confirmed to the 69,657 crowd that O’Gara’s point should stand.
This screen sometimes switches to a sponsor’s message, denying those in attendance the replays that people watching on television can see.
This happened in some instances on Sunday but not for the O’Gara point.
“To my knowledge the big screen replays occur unless there has been a controversy in regard to official contact or something like that,” said Daly. “That’s my understanding.”
There is no problem, according to the GAA playing rules, with the referee changing his mind over a score, or wide, after consulting his linesman.
PREVIOUS CONTROVERSIAL SCORES
Limerick’s Ian Ryan kicked a wide that was awarded as the point that knocked Wexford out of the All-Ireland qualifiers.
Benny Coulter’s fisted goal helped Down progress to the All-Ireland final at Kildare’s expense. “To be honest I think I was (in the square),” said Coulter afterwards. “I watched it on the big screen after and I think I was standing in it. These things go with you and sometimes they don’t. Thankfully today they went with us.”
Joe Sheridan’s blatantly illegal goal in injury time of the Leinster final is awarded by referee Martin Sludden after he conferred with an umpire. Meath won the provincial title as a result. Sludden was attacked by Louth supporters leaving the field under a Garda escort.
– GAVIN CUMMISKEY