Director of games development Pat Daly said the GAA hopes to launch standardised, micro-chipped sliotars in spring 2018, sometime between St Patrick’s Day and Easter.
Daly’s efforts to regulate the sliotar market go back to the early 2000s and the process of developing a uniform core for the ball is going well, he reports. “We’re standardising the core in an attempt to ensure there is consistency in performance. We’re inserting a chip into the core for traceability. Obviously, it’s a painstaking process. You’re trying to make sure the chip can withstand the hits a sliotar takes. It’s essential the technology holds up to that.”
The readable chip will confirm the authenticity of a sliotar and Daly sees the approved match-ball being used in all games under the auspices of the Central Competitions Control Committee before it is mass produced. The GAA are working with two manufacturers in the development process but more suppliers will be involved providing they use the standardised core.
“Once the production and manufacturing process is straightened out, we hope to have the sliotar ready for St Patrick’s Day or Easter next year. Will or won’t we is another thing because it could run into an unanticipated blip. What we’re working towards is something we could sign off with the technology by then and ensure there is a consistent quality ball.”
Daly has previously spoken of a €5/€6 guideline price for the standardised sliotar. “It might have been premature to do it but if we can standardise the production process then it should be possible to bring out a high-quality ball at a reasonable price. By doing that, it wouldn’t be worthwhile for those undercutting the system and putting out inferior products. The price differential wouldn’t be economically viable for them.”