Duffy wants Hawk-Eye in Thurles ‘as soon as possible’

Hawk-Eye may well be on course to be installed at Semple Stadium in time for the 2015 season, according to GAA Director General Páraic Duffy.

The system debuted at Croke Park at the start of last summer and has proven to be a success despite one high-profile hiccup during the All-Ireland MHC semi-final between Limerick and Galway.

However, there was no technological support on offer last Sunday when Kilkenny’s Colin Fennelly was awarded a point for an effort which TV cameras suggested should have been signalled wide.

With Kilkenny winning the game by a point – as the Galway minors did last August against Limerick – it demonstrated again the desirability of having a flawless ‘eye-in-the-sky’ in grounds other than just HQ.

And Duffy is in full agreement.

“I’ve always said it and I’ll say it again, this is the second year of the Hawk-Eye experiment. I personally think it has been very successful. We had one hiccup last year with Limerick, which was very regrettable, but I have always said that if we sign off to retain it, we should then look as soon as we can to put it into Thurles.

“Ideally, you would have it in every ground but Thurles is the next ground it should be in because Thurles stages so many of our big hurling games. In the game last week there was over 50 scores, that’s always going to happen.”

The system will require the imprimatur of Congress before it can become permanent, but Duffy believes that will merely be procedural and he added that the technology will then ideally be rolled out to grounds around the country.

Though he refused to put a figure on it, the costs involved per individual stadium would not equate to those absorbed at Croke Park, which were described as a “serious six-figure sum” at the time by stadium director Peter McKenna.

Two years of research and experimentation preceded its installation at HQ. Much of that will not be required again, but the roll-out around the country would still involve a significant financial outlay for the association.

One other subplot to arise from the hurling league final in Thurles was the minor touchline spat between Kilkenny manager Brian Cody and Tipperary chairman Sean Nugent, which was dismissed as little or nothing by both parties.

Duffy was at the game but was unaware of any issue until he read about it later. Yet he has spoken to the CCCC about the need for vigilance surrounding sideline regulations as the championships come into view.

“We had a very good year last year in terms of the sideline regulations. I’m not talking about the Thurles incident at all but, in general terms, it’s very important that what we had last year is maintained.

“In none of the games I went to was there a problem. There has been a suggestion that perhaps there has been a little bit of slackness in some areas, but now that the Championship is starting we’ll be reminding people of their responsibility.”

Meanwhile, the Monaghan man was unwilling to wade into the debate about the viability of New York’s future in the Connacht Championship after the exiles shipped yet another heavy beating at Gaelic Park last Sunday.

Mayo’s 22-point win comes on the back of similarly punishing losses to Leitrim (by 24 points), Sligo (23) and Roscommon (16) in the four years since the American outfit pushed Galway all the way in 2010.

“It’s really a matter for New York. Connacht are very happy to have them in the Championship and the teams seem to be happy to travel. From a Croke Park point of view, we have no plans to ask them to leave.

“I know it’s difficult for them to be competitive, and I don’t know if that’s going to change, but it really is a matter for New York and for the Connacht council. It’s not something that Croke Park would want to enforce an opinion on.”

GAA president Liam O’Neill had raised the ire of New York in March when he spoke about whether New York’s future lay in the All-Ireland series or in a mooted world championship.

Duffy was speaking at the launch of the Lenovo GAA Skills Hubs which will offer children aged 13 to 15 years the opportunity to learn the skills of Gaelic football, hurling and camogie from inter-county players in venues across the country this summer. Lenovo have agreed a three-year partnership with the GAA/GPA for the Skills Hubs which will give children an insight into the life of an inter-county player that will include conditioned games, skills development, mental preparation and sports nutrition.

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