In this era of marginal gains, the GAA has made its own with the implementation of HawkEye. There can be little doubt it had a valuable impact to the feast of hurling produced last weekend.

Called on four times on Saturday and five on Sunday, the integrity of the matches was upheld by the ball-tracking system.

Sure, there was one umpire at the Hill 16 end on Sunday who was a little too keen to draw an imaginary box with his fingers. After one of those men in white stationed at the Davin Stand goalposts waved a Limerick shot wide in the first half of normal time, manager John Kiely too wanted a HawkEye review and made his thoughts known to referee Paud O’Dwyer. However, in such circumstances, O’Dwyer can only do so when he has been informed by the HawkEye official in his ear-piece that a review is warranted.

After HawkEye had confirmed two clear points the umpires on the Hill 16 end should have seen themselves, there was a moan of The Boy Who Cried Wolf about his decision to go to the booth again when he was unsure about a Cork shot in the first half. However, he was proven right as the ball had sailed over the far right post, a next to impossible one for the naked eye to detect.

On Saturday, three of Galway’s 12 first-half wides were confirmed by HawkEye, all three of them passed over one of the posts. It makes you wonder just how many disputed points awarded in this year’s Championship in venues where there was no HawkEye were valid.

 

A HawkEye decision being shown on the big screen in Croke Park
A HawkEye decision being shown on the big screen in Croke Park

 

And we don’t include Tipperary’s ghost goal in the Gaelic Grounds last month.

Now in its sixth year in Croke Park, HawkEye has firmly established itself as part of the GAA summer but for obvious reasons, it’s hurling where it is felt and needed most. HawkEye themselves have acknowledged that. On the official website of the English company’s website where it explains its association with the GAA, there is no mention of Gaelic football:

The Point Detection System is a camera based system that assists officials when awarding points scored between the posts, via an audio signal relayed to the referee within seconds of the sliotar crossing the line.

Beside that quote is a video clip of John O’Dwyer’s last-gasp free in Tipperary’s 2014 All-Ireland final draw with Kilkenny being ruled out by HawkEye. It remains the biggest decision for the technology to date although there have been plenty of others.

The teething problem experienced in the 2013 All-Ireland minor hurling final when Barry Nash’s first-minute score for Limerick into the Hill 16 end was wrongly ruled out because the apparatus had not been recalibrated to hurling from Gaelic football was a human error but is long forgotten.

Nash incidentally scored Limerick’s insurance point into the terrace on Sunday.

Admittedly, the score detection technology in Semple Stadium seems coin-operated and in need of a crank or a kick to get it going.

It has been suggested that the reading takes so long because of the difficulty in triangulation when the Kinane and Ryan Stands are not of the same shape. But then that wouldn’t explain why in the Clare-Tipperary Munster SHC game in Thurles last month O’Dwyer, quickly after his umpire erroneously awarded John Conlon a point in the first half, was informed by the HawkEye booth to call for a review.

However, it took several more seconds before the overruling was confirmed on the Town End scoreboard. Is there a need for “Tá” and “Níl” in Thurles when there is no shot-tracer? Can the referee just confirm the decision and be done with it?

That Páirc Uí Chaoimh didn’t have the measure in place this year to help referees and umpires as there was for the two All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals last summer was disappointing.

 

There was no HawkEye in Páirc Uí Chaoimh for last year’s All-Ireland quarter-finals, including Waterford v Wexford
There was no HawkEye in Páirc Uí Chaoimh for last year’s All-Ireland quarter-finals, including Waterford v Wexford

 

The system there wasn’t HawkEye but a temporary measure to aid officials. When the GAA is in need of a win, extending HawkEye to a stadium as impressive as that and other grounds where there will be Championship hurling next season would be a development roundly praised.

You could even call it a reward for what hurling has contributed this season but then it is essential that when a game is riding so high the parameters which define it are as authentic as possible.

Two years ago, this newspaper listed 15 occasions when HawkEye would have been useful either before its introduction to Croke Park in 2013, Semple Stadium three years later or at stadia where it is not yet in place.

It wasn’t a chore to do so.

Ignorance of GAA is bliss

“Can you be a full (GAA) member if you’re only female?”

A line that was uttered by the venerable Marian Finucane on her Sunday show on RTÉ this past weekend. Her question, which was not tongue-in-cheek, was directed to thejournal.ie news editor Sineád O’Carroll whose response was diplomatic but correcting. Finucane really should know better.

 

Marian Finucane
Marian Finucane

 

Fawning about the Ireland rugby team is all well and good but as she opened up the discussion on the Liam Miller Charity soccer game taking place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh her lack of knowledge was damning. But then the situation has prompted many to stick their oar in, many who have failed to disguise their dislike, envy or contempt for the GAA.

We can’t say Finucane illustrated any of those stances but some knowledge of the subject matter would have helped.

The GAA’s lack of understanding about the Miller situation last week should be a harsh lesson learned, a controversy that came out of nowhere.

Over the weekend, GAA president John Horan was criticised for saying that the intervention of some Government spokespeople about the matter was “not helpful”.

Indeed, there was the barefaced cheek of Sports Minister Shane Ross speaking about Government grants having to benefit all the community, not just the recipients, when last March he announced Wesley College, an institution with a myriad of facilities and based in his Dublin-Rathdown constituency, would be receiving €150,000 aid from the Government towards a new hockey pitch. How does that benefit the community when it costs €6,370 and €7,750 a year to attend the secondary and preparatory schools respectively?

Political opportunism comes in all forms. President Michael D Higgins rarely misses a Galway Championship game but this past weekend we saw him greet all four teams when presidential greetings usually only take place before finals.

 

President Michael D Higgins shakes the hand of Conor Whelan before the clash of Clare and Galway on Saturday
President Michael D Higgins shakes the hand of Conor Whelan before the clash of Clare and Galway on Saturday

 

You’d swear there was an election afoot.

Kiely needn’t worry about the media

It’s quite some time since this journalist approached a player involved in an All-Ireland final about securing an interview with him prior to the big day. A straw poll yesterday produced the same conclusion from colleagues.

Not since some time before Limerick’s last All-Ireland final appearance in 2007 has it been a regularly done thing. The pre-final press evening in the Adare Manor Golf Club that year ran smoothly. Limerick’s regular availability for interviews this year has been positive and done them little wrong.

 

Limerick manager John Kiely celebrates with captain Declan Hannon after the win over Cork
Limerick manager John Kiely celebrates with captain Declan Hannon after the win over Cork

 

In only his second season as senior manager, John Kiely should be cut a little slack for issuing an ultimatum to the print, online, and local radio that he would cancel the media night were players to be contacted directly.

The hype that preceded the defeat to Kilkenny 11 years ago serves as a scare-at-bedtime story even though Richie Bennis’ side were coming up against the most awesome hurling team in history.

Besides, it wasn’t the media asking players back then to open shops and what not in the build-up.

As diligent as he is, Kiely must be careful not to protect his players so much as to suffocate them. Having Caroline Currid on board will mean their focus on beating Clare and Galway will be strong but there must be an opportunity for them to embrace this for what it is, only the county’s second senior final appearance in 22 seasons.

The fear is obviously that Limerick has a habit of getting carried away but even before Shane Dowling, Kiely and Declan Hannon’s preachings on Sunday there was an understanding that the players have to be respected more. In the Irish Examiner on Saturday, 1973 hero Eamonn Rea stressed he didn’t want to talk much about his success because it had come to haunt Limerick teams.

Kiely’s concern was understandable but it could have been better communicated.

Email: john.fogarty@examiner.ie

 

Papertalk Podcast: Hurling delirium, hurling overload, hurling snobbery, and a hurling documentary

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