Referee microphones could become part of GAA TV match coverage 2 months ago

Referee microphones could become part of GAA TV match coverage

"It is just a better way of doing business.”

Declan McBennett, the RTÉ Head of Sport, believes that the GAA could take on a rugby-style approach to referring, as they explore the idea of allowing the fans to hear the man in the middle.

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As it stands, referees’ audio is available to TV stations for the All-Ireland semi-finals and final, but it isn't actually available for broadcast.

With the technology already there, McBennet believes that fans would benefit a lot more from hearing the referee's reasoning behind decisions.

“If you go back to the Armagh/Tyrone skirmish, melee, call it what you will. That happened one of the weekends of the Six Nations,” McBennett said.

“If Romain Poite or Wayne Barnes makes a decision to send somebody off the pitch in a rugby match, you hear what they are being sent off for, and you hear there was no clear sign of mitigation because the tackle was high, they didn’t wrap around, all that kind of stuff.

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“If you watch the coverage from Cheltenham, there was one race in particular (the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle) where there was a stewards inquiry at the end.

“The two jockeys were brought into the stewards room and they were asked, what did you do and what did you not do, and did you feel you were interfered with?

“In fairness to the Irish jockey involved (Paddy Brennan), he said there was no interference there. I lost the race fair and square. There is no issue here. Yer man won. I didn’t. End of story."

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(Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

The hope would be that if this technology was brought into the GAA, then fans wouldn't be left in the dark, second guessing why certain decisions were made.

“The ability to allow referees to articulate their decisions. That match between Armagh and Tyrone, most people didn’t know why there was five players sent off. They didn’t know why there was four from Tyrone and one from Armagh got sent off.

“If David Gough is mic-ed and the mic is made available to the broadcasters and the press box, in its various guises and to the audience, you know that ‘x’ was sent off for a headlock, ‘b’ was sent off for striking, ‘c’ was send off for abusing an official etc, etc etc."

McBennett was speaking yesterday at the launch of RTÉ’s coverage of the 2022 GAA championships.

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“The principle is there …. and it will roll out over time, the question is what timeframe is needed here,” stated McBennett, expanding on the use of referees’ microphones.

“If we can hear Martin McNally or David Gough or Conor Lane, whoever it happens to be over both codes saying that was a chop, that was a strike, that was a headlock, there is no mitigation, off you go and the people at home are wiser, the people in the studio are wiser, the people in the press box are wiser and the people who have access to feeds are wiser.

"It is just a better way of doing business.”