GAA Football

GAA must embrace technology: Tyrone legend Peter Canavan

Tyrone legend Peter Canavan illustrates to pupils the value of touchscreen technology

PETER CANAVAN has predicted it’s only a matter of time before the GAA realises the limitless and positive impact technology can have on its games.

The Tyrone legend has linked up with the North’s leading audio visual company NIAVAC to help promote and encourage the use of technology in sport among school children.

Since joining Sky Sports as one of their leading GAA pundits, Canavan has delivered detailed tactical breakdowns of big games with the use of a touch-screen TV and believes leading teams will soon be doing the same during games.

The double All-Ireland winner said: “People are watching soccer, rugby and other sports and you see how they have embraced technology and how they use it to make it more appealing.

“That should be the case for Gaelic games. I think we’re starting to embrace technology, in terms of Hawkeye, and there was one instance where the match officials were ‘miked up' [for an RTÉ documentary]. So I think that’s the way ahead, maybe not for all games but for big Championship games.

“We would be foolish in the GAA if we didn’t think the use of technology could add and improve how the game is played and how the game is viewed. It’s a no-brainer for my point of view.”

Canavan feels the GAA can learn from the experiences of rugby and how their use of technology makes match officials and players more accountable: “I think we will soon have access to what is being said on the pitch. There is accountability for that and that can only be good for our game," he said.

“Sometimes, you would be naturally critical of linesmen and umpires for not giving the referee more help... If players are aware of that level of communication, they’re not going to be doing the cynical play and off-the-ball stuff because they’re going to be caught.

“[With the use of technology] when a linesman tells the referee about foul play, he has to act on it; he can’t ignore it. There are a lot of occasions where that is going on. That can only help our game. And I think supporters and viewers would appreciate that.”

During his managerial stint with Fermanagh, Canavan often assumed a position in the stand to get a better view and feels the future of how management teams analyse games will change immeasurably in the coming seasons.

“It is so difficult to get a panoramic view of the pitch when you’re standing on the sideline. When you’re in the stand it’s much easier to see patterns of play and how teams are set up and matching up," he added.

“The second advantage is that you’re not being influenced by those around you, whereas supporters can side-track you and take your mind off the game. If resources are in place, I think managers will take their place in a room in the stand. You just have to look at rugby managers. They can see things and replay more things on their screens.

“There’s no point in a manager realising that their opponent is applying a certain tactic if they’ve kicked two balls into the back of the net and then decide to do something about it. In rugby, you can see how they can have more of an influence and I think GAA managers will see the benefit of that. They’ll want to see things there and then rather than when the game’s over.”

Meanwhile, Canavan hopes to inspire the next generation of sports analysts following the announcement of NIAVAC's innovative competition for primary and secondary school children, entitled Best Young Sports Analyst Award, with the winners' school receiving a 70-inch state-of-the-art Clevertouch interactive, worth £4,000.

“Everybody likes to talk a good game," said Canavan.

"So we’re going to put people on the spot. If any pupils fancy themselves as an analyst in their sport, they will get the chance to submit a two-minute piece where they analyse a game of their choice that they played in, whether it’s Gaelic, soccer, rugby or hockey or hurling.

"They can do it as an individual or as a group and we’ll see how well they can summarise it. They can use video technology, they can use clips from the game and present the stats in whatever form they like and they can tell the story of the game.”

James Conlon, managing director of NIAVAC, said: “We are delighted to launch a schools competition and to have Peter Canavan on board as our brand ambassador.

"Clevertouch technology is really revolutionising classroom learning, replacing interactive whiteboards in classrooms with sophisticated touchscreen technology that does not require costly replacement lamps and ongoing maintenance."

Competition entries are now open and must be submitted by March 31. Five finalists will be selected to go through to the final round, with the winner selected by a public vote.

For further details, check the competition webpage to keep up to date.

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