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'We were on a replay and missed a goal': Why TG4 made the call to introduce new in-game feature

The Irish language station received widespread praise for the small-screen replays and puck-out angle they rolled out on Sunday.

Updated Apr 9th 2018, 9:46 PM

THE ALLIANZ LEAGUES concluded yesterday with Kilkenny’s win over Tipperary in the Division 1 hurling decider and TG4 earned rave reviews for an innovative in-game feature they rolled out for the first time in Nowlan Park.

In keeping up with the fast-paced modern game, the Irish language channel trialled a small-screen replay while showing puck-outs from a new angle high behind the goals.

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It was a major success and well-timed considering TG4 had an impressive 25% audience share for yesterday’s league final clash between the old rivals.

“It’s something we’ve been toying with for a long time,” Nemeton Director of Sport Maidhcí Ó Súilleabháin tells The42.

“We’ve seen recently that there’s been a demand for something like this out there.

“Obviously with the way that Gaelic Games have changed over the last couple of years where kick-outs and puck-outs in particular are main points of attack now.

“The time to get any replay in at all (after a score) is gone. We felt this was the way to go. Keepers are taking puck-outs much quicker. You’d hardly get two or three replays in per half and our policy is to stay with the live action as much as possible.

“We knew in Nowlan Park that there’s a lovely little spot there for a 50 metre hoist to go behind the goals on the left-hand side. We knew you’d get the full view of the pitch from that angle. With that view and the picture in picture of the replays in the box, that it could work quite well.

“We said we’d try it on Sunday and it seemed to work very well,” he added.

Nemeton, which provides TG4 with all its sports coverage, made the decision to bring in the new feature in the wake of Tipperary’s recent league semi-final win over Limerick when they missed Jason Forde’s first goal.

Forde Source: TG4

(Click here if the above clip doesn’t play)

Forde intercepted Nickie Quaid’s short puck-out in extra-time and had it buried past the keeper while TG4 were showing the replay of John McGrath’s score moments earlier.

“In Thurles at Tipp versus Limerick, we were on a replay and we missed a goal. That’s a mistake and it really can’t happen. This is probably someway striking a balance where we can show the replay but always have live action full screen. That’s where we want to be at.

“Up to that point our policy was to sacrifice the replays and stay with the live action. But because I think it was a (John McGrath point) that went over and we were showing the replay of it. Then there was a puck-out that Jason Forde got and stuck it into the back of the net.

“I wouldn’t say it was the turning point but it certainly brought the thing to a point where we said we’d try this and see how it goes.”

Ó Súilleabháin says they’ll be rolling out the new feature for TG4′s football coverage, and they’ll continue to experiment with new ways to improve the viewer experience.

“Look at Stephen Cluxton and the ball is barely gone wide or over the bar and he’s kicking it out again. In Dublin one of their main points of attack is their kick-out. We would be looking at bringing it in across our coverage. What we want to do is stay with the live action as much as possible.

“We’re GAA people. We realise the game is changing, the way the game is being played is changing and we feel that the coverage and broadcast should match that. We also like to try new features.

Stephen Cluxton takes a free kick Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“So in Kilkenny along with the picture in picture and the big high behind, we had a six-speed super slow-mo camera and a second super slow-mo camera. We always try to bring something new to the table.

“The production team down in Nemeton, we’re always trying to see if there’s something new we can do. I guess we have the flexibility there to run the thing at times. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.

“Going back a couple of years ago, again we had a picture in picture but we used it to follow Davy (Fitzgerald) around for a while doing his thing on the sideline. Even previous to that when we were doing the U21 championship we had a player cam where you could log on online and follow a player for a half on a specific camera. We like to experiment and try new things. We feel a change is always good.”

Davy Fitzgerald Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The leagues may be over, but TG4 have an exciting GAA line-up to come over the next few months. The channel announced today that their live coverage of various club championships will begin this weekend with an attractive Dublin SFC double bill in Parnell Park.

Ballymun Kickhams vs St Brigids will be followed by Kilmacud Crokes vs Ballyboden St Endas on Saturday night, while the GAA Beo team will also visit Limerick, Cork and Galway in the coming weeks.

“The league is just finished but we are in Parnell Park on Saturday for a Dublin club football double-header,” says Ó Súilleabháin. “It’s kind of new for everyone that there’s club matches in April so we’ll be doing a few of those for the next couple of weeks on a Saturday and Sunday.

“Then the U21 hurling and U20 football will kick in. We’ve the minor matches in the summertime, the semi-finals and finals and the ladies football, then back to clubs.

“The crew have put down a very long winter and the snow and refixtures and condensed league season caused us no small amount of head-scratching. But I think we had a very good league, the quality of the games and the league itself has been fantastic.

“So I think some of the crew are on a well-deserved break for a while. We’ll be ticking over anyway.”

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TG4′s upcoming live GAA schedule:

Saturday 14 April

4.00pm – Ballymun Kickhams v St. Brigids, Dublin SFC 
5.45pm – Kilmacud Crokes v Ballyboden St. Endas, Dublin SFC

Sunday 22 April

2.00pm -  Na Piarsaigh v Doon, Limerick SHC
3.40pm -  Liam Mellows v Castlegar, Galway SHC (Deferred)

Sunday 29 April

2.00pm – Midleton v Bishopstown, Cork SHC
3.45pm Carrigtohill v Blackrock, Cork SHC

Sunday 6 May

2.00pm – Ladies Football Division 2 league final
4.00pm - Ladies Football Division 1 league final

Monday 7 May (Bank Holiday)

2.00pm – Ladies Football Division 4 league final
4.00pm - Ladies Football Division 3 league final

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Kevin O'Brien

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