Four-time All-Ireland hurling final referee Brian Gavin has urged the GAA to embrace a trial of a new yellow sliotar in order to assist umpires in spotting the ball.
Gavin, who was voted in as one of Offaly’s Leinster Council delegates at this week’s convention, called for a lengthy trial of the proposed ball to be undertaken and insisted it could have a similar impact as Hawk-Eye on officiating.
The Clara clubman admitted there can be an issue for officials in seeing the ball during floodlit matches, especially for some of the older umpires.
“Anything that is going to be trialled and tested is no harm. If it’s for the betterment of vision and score detection, you’d have to welcome it,” said Gavin.
“Some league games under lights, it is a little bit of an issue. Especially on a cold night if there is a little bit of fog or frost around, the yellow sliotar would be useful. The most underrated people in the GAA are the umpires, they are reliable fellas and they go as a team with the referee.
But let’s call a spade, a lot of them aren’t under the age of 50, and if this can help them out, why not try it? We’ll wait and see how it goes, but at the moment if it’s going to improve it, it’s fine by me.
Since the arrival of Hawk-Eye to the game in 2013, there has been one high-profile error when the system was calibrated incorrectly for the All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final — the match referee overruled the technology that day — but the following year’s All-Ireland senior final was correctly sent to a replay on the strength of an injury-time call.
Gavin hopes that GAA members see this example of technology being introduced successfully as another way to assist the officials and that it gets Central Council approval in January.
“When Hawk-Eye was introduced, maybe some people were a little bit sceptical. We have only ever had one blip with it really, in the first year. Apart from that, Hawk-Eye has been 100% solid.
“It’s a savage addition to the umpires. It’s another tool in the box for an umpire and it has eradicated any confusion in the GAA.”