HawkEye's presence in Championship 2020 hangs in balance

Estimates suggest HawkEye at Croke Park costs between €7,000 and €8,000 per match-day
HawkEye's presence in Championship 2020 hangs in balance

The Hawkeye system has been a success but estimates suggest HawkEye at Croke Park costs between €7,000 and €8,000 per match-day. Picture: Inpho/Lorraine O'Sullivan

A decision regarding the use of HawkEye in this year’s All-Ireland championship games has yet to be made.

A little over 30 days before the provincial competitions begin, the GAA are in negotiations with the English company to strike a deal on the score detection technology operating in the slimmed down competitions.

Previous estimates suggest HawkEye at Croke Park costs between €7,000 and €8,000 per match-day. The GAA’s cost benefit analysis of employing the system is obviously more stringent this year given the financial constraints the organisation faces due to crowd restrictions and a shortage of income thus far this year. However, the integrity of results is also a strong consideration.

The GAA are still waiting to hear from the Government about their financial support for the running of this year’s Championship. Assurances were given the weekend before last that the money would be forthcoming to supplement the estimated €19.5 million cost of running the competitions and an announcement had been expected last week.

It’s seven years since HawkEye was first used in Croke Park before it was extended to Semple Stadium in 2016. It was briefly used in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh when the All-Ireland quarter-finals marked its opening in 2017.

With the extra number of floodlit games to be played, umpires will have their work cut out distinguishing scores and wides particularly in hurling, although there are strong suggestions the yellow sliotar could be debuted in the Championship. The smart element of the ball has been delayed due to supply difficulties caused by the pandemic but the luminous ball could be introduced from October 24.

Meanwhile, Ulster GAA have warned further pitch invasions could jeopardise crowds being permitted at games in the six counties. The jubilant scenes following Dungannon Clarkes’ first senior county final win in 64 years following a penalty shootout in Omagh on Sunday drew criticism namely from Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster.

In a statement which was welcomed by Foster, the provincial council highlighted the GAA’s widespread commitment to social restrictions and guidelines but pleaded with supporters not to encroach pitches after county finals in the coming weeks. “The on-pitch celebration scenes following the Tyrone County Final in Omagh not only breached GAA protocols but, and much more significantly, public health guidelines.

“Ulster GAA fully realises that this was a moment of great joy for the Dungannon Clarkes Club in winning their first County title since 1956 and congratulations to them on this success. The dramatic nature of the conclusion of the game probably added to the exuberance but we are living in a pandemic and the post-match scenes did not portray the Association in a positive light.

“With more county finals due in the coming weeks, Ulster GAA is again appealing to all our units to behave responsibly. The scenes of last (Sunday) night cannot be repeated or we will risk going back to a position where all games will be played behind closed doors.”

The PSNI confirmed they were investigating the pitch invasion for any health protection regulations breaches.

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