Goal-line technology… What’s the point?

Kettering to get goal-line technology? Probably not.

“Mathematical jiggery pokery.” That’s how Liam Kilmartin, lecturer in the Electronic Engineering Department described the process behind developing goal-line technology at a talk in NUIG on Tuesday the 16th of January.
In the course of an hour long talk, Kilmartin explained how the various technologies work, including the much talked about Hawk-Eye and the less talked about Cairos system. The latter is an in-ball system currently being developed in association with Adidas.
Kilmartin himself is well placed to speak on such matters. He was part of a team who were given the task between 1996 and 1999 to develop a viable “point score detection technology” for the GAA. And develop they did. However there were a few sticking points; the cameras used were too slow, for one. The GAA themselves weren’t exactly full of alternative ideas however. Making the goalposts higher, anyone? In the end nothing was done.
Not long after the project was disbanded, a small English company, Roke Manor Research, had a patent for a system not dissimiliar to the one Kilmartin et al had developed. Its name was Hawk-Eye, the name now eponymous with any discussion on goal-line technology.
On the 2nd April last, in a National Hurling League game between Dublin and Kilkenny in Croke Park, Hawk-Eye was given a trial run. It worked. The system is very accurate, very sophisticated, and very, very expensive. There is a need for Hawk-Eye engineers to be in every stadium where the technology is installed.
Therefore the system is not viable across the board, and if it was only to be available in Croke Park what type of message would that send out? The only games that matter occur in GAA HQ? Frequenters of Semple Stadium, Pairc Ui Caoimh and Pearse Stadium, to name but a few, would have something to say about that.
Across the pond, the English FA has the same problem. Sure, the majority of Premier League clubs could take the financial hit, install Hawk-Eye and have engineers on site. But, as Mr Kilmartin said, what happens in the FA Cup when the likes of Manchester United are drawn to play someone like Kettering? If the tie is in Old Trafford, is Hawk-Eye used? If the tie is in err…. Kettering’s home field, is Hawk-Eye installed so as to keep things on an even keel? Probably not.
Unless goal-line technology can be used both in the most majestic stadiums in the world and installed in the jumpers children use as goalposts, then sport will lose its universality, and the gap between professional athletes and those who support them and dream of emulating them will widen.
Additionally, if the situation did arise that Hawk-Eye was implemented at a professional level, what would happen when it fails the first time? No system is fail-safe. If the media works itself into such a furore when a referee makes a mistake, imagine what would transpire if Hawk-Eye failed, even once. There would be calls for the camera to resign.  Ex-camera’s would appear on TV to criticise the camera’s decision. The camera would be demoted to monitoring the goalposts at pub matches.
Let’s face it, we like controversy.
Anyway, if there were no more controversial goals, what would we have to debate in the pub? What would Liam, Eamonn, and Johnny have to argue about on RTE? A world with perfect sport is not a perfect world.
I suppose we’d still have the offside rule.
First published on Studenty
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Running Man

An artist’s depiction of me mid-run.

Let me just be clear from the outset, I despise running. I’m not averse to pegging it after a bus, or chasing a ball around a football field, but to my mind running in those cases is part of something, a means to an end. But, running from point A to point B, and turning back again? Taxi!
Be that as it may, I’ve heard tell that it’s quite beneficial in the whole health and fitness area, so yesterday I made a late New Year’s resolution to get out there and start pounding the pavement. My housemate decided he’d do the same, which led us to the events of yesterday evening…
Now, Blue Monday may not have been the best day to start a New Year’s resolution, but by the end of our exertions it was certainly apt in my case, as my face had turned blue from a combination of the cold and the lack of oxygen.
In the little research I did yesterday afternoon before we set off, I was led to understand that your warm-up is crucial. I probably should have read on, because I’m starting to feel that the running website didn’t mean stand in front of the fire for 5 minutes before you set off.
Apparently, it’s also important to have your route clearly mapped out in your head before you set off. Visualisation technique and all that. Ha! Not so for myself and my housemate. We walked out the door, shrugged our shoulders and set off towards Salthill. I for one was convinced Salthill was a mere 2km from our house near Sally Longs pub, but having checked it post-run, it turns out to be 4. Which means the nice easy distance we thought we were undertaking was actually doubled. An 8k run probably isn’t the recommended starting point for a fitness programme!
The first leg of the run was unproblematic. We flew along the river path as far as Spanish Arch. I kept thinking, “This ain’t so bad!”. We stopped for some stretches. My housemate actually did some. I shadowboxed. We set off again, and suddenly it was as if I was sliding backwards. My housemate was getting further and further away from me. He reached Knocknacarra a good minute or two before I did. He stopped to “stretch again”, but I think he was just concerned that I had fallen down a hole or had turned around and went home. Both were viable in fairness.
I sat down for a second after stretching. Not recommended. It was hard to get back up. When we pushed off again, it was the same story. My housemate was off like a bullet and I was left picking my way through the crowds of people out walking and jogging. I thought to myself, “Pah! New Year’s resolution saps! The weak among ye will be weeded out within weeks”. And then, “What excuse can I give my housemate so I never have to do this again?”
My housemate was out of sight at this stage. He smokes. Passing the aquarium I found myself wishing I smoked so I could have an excuse for my abysmal run. I was actually making involuntary yelping noises the last 5oo metres. A pack of stray dogs was following me, thinking I was a bitch in heat. Down by the famous diving board I caught up with my housemate. Well, by catching up with him I mean he’d stopped. He’d been there two minutes and was ready to go again. No Saving Private Ryan heroics here, I told him to head on home, I needed a breather. Being honest, I needed an oxygen tank.
Smug, gloating little….
Now you might not believe me, but I tried to run a fast time home. I really did. But there was a young girl, maybe 9 years old, who passed me out. And passing me out wasn’t enough for this sadistic jezebel, oh no! She ran on a few hundred metres, stopped to “tie her laces” until I had passed her out again. Then when I had gone on a few hundred metres, she’d sail past me again. Kids these days… Out running when they could be eating fast food or playing computer games.
Feeling woof. 
Somewhere along the way home, I passed a kindred spirit. There was a dog who sounded like he was coughing up a hairball. He looked like how I felt.
I power walked the last 500 metres home. Power here is a relative term. The alternative was standby mode, where I’d just plonk myself on the nearest convenient bench and hail a taxi.
My housemate had showered and eaten by the time I fell in the door.
And the mental thing is that I plan to do it all again tomorrow. Turns out running is addictive!
Note: This article would have been written last night, but my laptop was upstairs in my room, and after the run, stairs were an issue. I slept on the couch.
photos: wikimedia commons