Thurles HawkEye on track but Cusack Park still faces hurdles

After a season’s delay, HawkEye is expected to come into operation at Semple Stadium in time for this year’s Munster championship.

Thurles HawkEye on track but Cusack Park still faces hurdles

According to Tipperary secretary Tim Floyd, the score detection technology requires trial runs in two or three more games before it is given the green light to come into live operation.

Thurles will play host to two games next month after it was yesterday confirmed as the venue for the All-Ireland Club SHC semi-final between Oulart-The Ballagh and Na Piarsaigh on February 6.

Tipperary’s hurlers face Dublin in a Division 1A opener on February 13.

HawkEye may yet debut in Semple Stadium before the end of the league — it has hosted eight of the last 11 NHL finals — but a more likely launch date is Tipperary’s Munster SHC quarter-final against Cork on May 22.

“We’re waiting on a few more matches before everything is completed,” said Floyd.

“We’re hoping that between a couple of league games and the All-Ireland Club championship, it will have had enough tests.

“It will be well into the league before it’s ready but it should be in by the Munster championship.”

It had been hoped HawkEye would be in place for last season’s championship after feasibility studies were conducted in Thurles early last year.

Construction work also had to be completed in the corner of the Kinane (Old) Stand and the Town End terrace to facilitate a big screen under the TV broadcast studio.

But just like when the technology was installed in Croke Park in 2012, HawkEye’s implementation was delayed because of teething problems.

It was mooted last year that the Thurles version of HawkEye will be a scaled-down version of what’s available in Croke Park.

The big screen will confirm whether a shot is a “hit” (point) or a “miss” (wide) but unlike in HQ, the flight of the ball won’t be shown.

Upon completion of the stadiums’ reconstruction, HawkEye will also be installed at Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Casement Park, while MacHale Park and the Gaelic Grounds could also benefit from the technology.

Limerick secretary Mike O’Riordan, in his 2014 annual report, called on the GAA to put it into their Ennis Road venue.

Meanwhile, Clare County Board treasurer Bernard Keane admits there are “no guarantees” that Cusack Park will be ready to host the Banner County’s Allianz Hurling League Division 1B opener against Offaly on February 14.

A €2.3m facelift is almost complete at the Ennis venue and while new board chairman Joe Cooney is confident work will be completed in time for the Offaly visit, Keane admitted “a few hurdles” still need to be vaulted.

“They are making progress. I think around the 15th of February we’re hoping to have it ready.

“It will hopefully be ready for the hurling game. The first football match is January 31, a home game against Sligo, and I think that will be going to Miltown-Malbay.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll be ready for the hurling but there are no guarantees on that just yet. A few hurdles have to be cleared.

“There’s real progression in the work on the toilets and all of the different areas, all parts of the project and turnstiles etc.

“The whole project is costing €2.3m.

“It’s good value for money, we could have gone bigger but we feel it will be a nice, compact stadium when it’s finished.

“If everything works out according to plan, we’ll be pleased with it.

“We didn’t want to go too far into debt or put our clubs under financial strain.”

Keane is predicting a much-improved showing from the Clare senior hurlers this year, following the high profile appointment of Dónal Óg Cusack as coach.

He said: “Every day you’d hope that you will achieve and that we will get back to where we were in 2013.

“We have the infrastructures, a very good backroom team there now and excellent hurling and football managers, very enthusiastic people totally committed to Clare.

“There’s excellent back-up for both codes and hopefully 2016 will bring its reward.”

Fixtures:

Feb 6, All-Ireland Club SHC semi-finals:

Sarsfields v Ruairí Óg, Páirc Tailteann, 2pm; Oulart-The Ballagh v Na Piarsaigh, Semple Stadium, 3.45pm

Feb 13, All-Ireland Club SFC semi-finals:

Ballyboden St Endas v Clonmel Commercials, O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, 4.30pm; Castlebar Mitchels v Crossmaglen Rangers, Kingspan Breffni Park, 6.15pm.

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