With the GAA set to introduce HawkEye technology at Croke Park this summer, the association’s head of media relations Alan Milton has said that he hopes the introduction of the technology will eliminate controversy over contentious points.
Milton spoke to RTÉ Sport this morning prior to the new technology being demonstrated in Croke Park later today.
“We’re trialling this over a two-year period. This is the next phase of the education process, it’s been a lengthy process since we’ve trialled it behind the scenes, not as part of a matchday, but for the last 18 months, and we’re very happy that it’s ready to roll out,” he said.
Milton revealed to RTÉ the exact process under which Hawk-Eye will be used in Croke Park from this season on.
“Our posts in Croke Park are 13 metres high, but on top of those 13 metres we’re going to have another 13 metres of virtual posts, so therefore any score or effort that’s 26 metres high will be picked up by the Hawk-Eye system,” said Milton.
“It’s an aid for our match officials and referees. It does not replace their role in any way; they will resort to it when there is any doubt.
"We will have a review official in the control box, who will be following both the play on the field and indeed how the scores are being tracked by the Hawk-Eye system.
“What it does is it records the trajectory and the movement of the ball in a 3D scenario, and that scenario is created by cameras that have been placed at both the Hill 16 end and the Davin end of Croke Park.”
However, one key point with Hawk-Eye is that the system will only be used to detect points, not goals, as the system can only say whether a ball crossed the goal-line, not how it crossed the goal-line, which is often the query in Gaelic games.
Milton said: “We’ve done an audit of the goal incidents over the past three seasons and Hawk-Eye would not have made a difference in any of them. We had no instances where Hawk-Eye would have clarified a goal situation.
“It would have been hard to stand over further investment.
“It only records when a ball dissects the posts. It could have been brought in for goal-line technology. It would have involved numerous more cameras, and of course futher financial investment. We would have found that very hard to stand over. It is not cheap technology in any shape or form.
”In that light, when we couldn’t point to any incidents where it would have made a difference, it wouldn’t have been prudent to go down that road.”
"Any score or effort that’s 26 metres high will be picked up by the Hawk-Eye system" - Alan Milton
The GAA’s top communications leader was however, reluctant to reveal how much the technology has cost the GAA, saying: “That is commercially sensitive information because we have entered into a partnership with Specsavers, so they’re not figures that we’re putting in the public domain.
“But you can imagine that it’s a significant commitment at Croke Park over a two-year period.
“I think it’s incumbent on us to do everything we can to ensure that the massive hours that the players, management and supporters put into attending and playing, that we put the very best system in place to avoid the controversies, and ensure that we have the most accurate score-detection technology available.
“And I think we’re getting there.”
There have been questions posed recently regarding why the GAA has not made plans to roll out the new technology at more grounds other than Croke Park, and Milton responded to these concerns by saying that such a scenario was simply not feasible at present.
He added: “It wouldn’t have been plausible to roll it out everywhere around the island, but what we will do after two years is we will sit down and review it and see if it has made a meaningful contribution to the match-day apparatus.”
Extract from an interview with Darren Frehill on Morning Ireland. Edited by Tadhg Peavoy.