The future is now…
Donal Óg Cusack sheds some light on the opportunities that "intelligent sliotars" could offer the game of hurling on this week's RTÉ GAA Podcast.
The All-Star goalkeeper referred to a new technology that was trialled in this year’s Fenway Classic where an internal chip could help referees determine the authenticity of the sliotar.
"That was actually tested in real time that day. All it is, it’s very simple, the referee has an app on their phone. They put it up to the sliotar and it either says yes or no it’s not," he said.
"Imagine we’re watching the Sunday Game and a player takes a shot from whatever angle and because of the algorithms behind this technology, you’ll be able to say 'yeah, you know what there was actually only a 10% chance that that player was going to score that.
"That’s how fantastic that score was.’ Like that’ll improve the interest in the game, it’ll improve the enjoyment, more talking points."
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Discussions around the inconsistencies of sliotars has been batted around GAA circles a lot recently with many, including the All Ireland winning goalkeeper, calling for a change in the colour of the ball.
"The colour for me has to change. Luminous colours is a no-brainer.
"Tennis used to have a white ball and they changed for really good reasons, some of those being TV. We see now the demographic in Ireland is changing. If someone is watching the game on television and they can’t follow the sliotar it’s a turn off straight away whereas, a luminous ball is much easier to see and it’s scientifically proven that your eye will react faster to it."
'The ball is the wrong colour...it needs to be a ball that can be seen' - Donal Og has his say after it appeared Clare had a point chalked off as a wide by the match officials pic.twitter.com/PtkZFsjvRP— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) February 16, 2019
With goalkeepers allowed to bring their own sliotars to games played outside of Croke Park, a variety of sliotars from different companies could feature in a game. The inconsistency around sliotars has been "going on years" according to Cusack.
"It is more consistent than it used to be. The rims are smaller, it’s more suitable for accuracy. It’s more suitable for control. It’s more suitable for shooting.
"I do think it is contributing to some of the high scoring games. There are a load of other aspects that are contributing towards the ball. I do hear some commentators out there talking about making the ball heavier. I’m not so sure they really understand what they’re talking about.
"The weather actually has a huge factor in terms of the distance the ball travels as well. Hot and humid weather basically means a reduced density in the air. I know when you’re actually in that weather yourself you think it’s heavy but in fact, there’s less density so the air is lighter so the ball will travel further.
"There’s a whole wide range of different factors that are impacting the ball. But, I would say to try and make it more consistent to make it regular."
Follow Cork v Kilkenny (2pm) and Tipperary v Laois (4pm) in the All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app. Watch live coverage on The Sunday Game from 1.30pm and listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio's Sunday Sport and Raidió na Gaeltachta. Highlights of both games on The Sunday Game on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from 9.30pm.