Skills of Páidí Ó Sé and Christy Ring to be tackled in three dimensions

Páidí Ó Sé, Christie Ring, Sean Flanagan, and other sporting legends past and present will be handing on their skills to a new generation thanks to the marvels of technology.

Gaelic football, camogie and the warrior sport of hurling are all being digitised, with every move and skill from the puck out to the hand pass being captured by the same kind of motion-capture technology Hollywood uses in films like The Hobbit.

Clubs and players all over the world will be able to take lessons from the best as part of a huge research programme to capture the games and teach the skills, and players will also be able to play against their sporting hero.

But it’s not just confined to the professionals, as Noel O’Connor of DCU explains.

The €2m, EU-funded project will also have a scaled-down version that players can use on themselves, and see their own performance.

The technology is the same as that used to replicate artefacts in museums so they can be seen in 3D, turned around and viewed from every angle by people accessing their website.

But this is the first time cutting edge mo-cap technology is being used to capture sport as a cultural heritage.

There are around 3,000 traditional sports and games in Europe alone, but many are in decline or being lost.

The GAA, DCU, and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, are three of the eight partners from five countries working on the project, which covers Irish traditional sports and the five variations of the Basque handball game called Pelota.

They are half-way through the three-year RePlay project and this week marks an important phase with four of the best players spending time in Oxford’s Audiomotion studies, with their every move captured by technologies from Vicom.

The four are Limerick hurler Gavin O’Mahony; Monaghan ladies footballer Caoimhe Mohan; Limerick camogie player Caoimhe Costelloe; and Michael Newman from Meath footballers.

They are wearing skin-tight clothing with infra-red reflectors and every movement is caught by about 20 infra-red cameras.

After this, they plan to map the moves of the past greats of the sport using video from the archives.

Basque and Gaelic sports are two of the few traditional sports that act as social and community pillars, and the strength of their traditions and their resistance to decline should help other sports survive, said Maria Teresa Linaza, from Vicomtech-IK4 in Spain, who are partners in the project.

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