Croke Park’s Hawk-Eye score detection technology won’t be available for use during Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland ladies football finals, partly because of the associated costs.
Ladies football head Marie Hickey confirmed that discussions took place about utilising the system, which has been in place for men’s games at GAA Headquarters since 2013, but that the decision was eventually taken not to proceed.
She explained that the prohibitive turnaround time for recalibrating the system to accommodate the smaller ball used in the ladies game was one reason while unspecified associated costs was another.
Curiously, this month’s All-Ireland camogie final did take advantage of Hawk-Eye which was fully functional for the meeting of Cork and Galway as well as the intermediate and junior deciders that day.
“We did discuss it,” said Hickey at yesterday’s launch of the football finals. “But we decided not to go with it this year, we’re going to look at it again for next year.
“At the time, when we looked at it, we realised that there had to be a recalibration for the size of our ball and that would actually have taken longer than the time-frame that we had. There’s a cost factor as well, obviously, so we’ll look at it again next year.”
The news won’t be well received by some ladies football supporters who already feel that their game is treated as a poor relation of men’s Gaelic football.
A request last month for the ladies championship tie between Dublin and Armagh to be moved from Parnell Park to nearby Croke Park, to form the curtain raiser to the men’s All-Ireland semi-final replay between Dublin and Mayo, was frustratingly rejected. Armagh manager James Daly responded to that development by claiming that ‘sexism is alive and well in the GAA today’.
Speaking generally about the challenges facing ladies Gaelic football, association president Hickey said one of the biggest is actually getting more of their own members to attend games.
It’s hoped that a crowd of around 30,000 will watch Sunday’s final between Dublin and Cork, a repeat of last year’s dramatic decider which Cork won by a point after falling 10 down at one stage.
But Hickey noted that with around 160,000 members, they really should be doing better with their crowds on finals day.
“I’ve often said that women are our own worst enemies when it comes to women’s sport,” said Hickey.
“What I mean by that is that there is a lot of support for men’s codes across the board. But we don’t really get the membership out (for ladies football).
“We have enough members to fill Croke Park twice over in this country alone. So if even half of our membership turned out, then obviously we’d have a full stadium.
“But for some reason, it just doesn’t always happen. We’re trying to figure out why that is and what we can do to change it but it is definitely a factor.
“We do need our own members supporting our own code and while it’s improving, it certainly has a long way to go.” Hickey agreed that it is a dream final for the association involving a Cork side chasing their second five-in-a-row of titles in 11 seasons and a Dublin team motivated not just by revenge for 2014 but by the opportunity to replicate the men’s win of last weekend. Kildare play Waterford in the All-Ireland intermediate final while Louth take on Scotland in a novel junior decider.
“We’re hoping that with the six teams involved, that we’ll surpass last year’s final crowd anyway and we’re then hoping to surpass the largest attendance at a women’s sporting event in Europe this year, which is 30,710 for the Women’s FA Cup final in England earlier this year so it would be great to break that record,” said Hickey. “Our own record is 33,000, back in 2001, it was the largest crowd we’ve ever had so if we could get close to that, it would be brilliant.” Hickey is hoping that the momentum generated by Dublin’s Sam Maguire success last weekend will help boost the gate when the capital’s ladies team lines out.
“We’re hoping for a big crowd for Dublin and the omens are good, that it will be.”
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