Smart Sliotar to be used in oneills.com All-Ireland U20 Hurling Final
By John Harrington
Consistency and sport don’t always go hand in hand, but we can at least be sure that every sliotar that’s used in Sunday’s oneills.com All-Ireland U-20 Hurling Final will perform dependably.
That’s because the GAA’s newly developed ‘Smart Sliotar’ has been used throughout this year’s campaign and will be the designated match ball again on Sunday.
The ‘Smart Sliotar’ adheres to the Sliotar specification set out in the GAA Official Guide and is verified by approved testing policies and protocols.
It also addresses the illegal use of the official GAA logo and meets ethical production and supply chain practices as determined by the World Federation of the Sports Goods Industry (WFSGI).
A tag or chip is embedded in the core of the Smart Sliotar which can be read by an app on a mobile phone and can be verified as being an official match ball rather than a counterfeit one.
The Smart Sliotar is the result of a detailed review and analysis carried out by a special Work Group established by Uachtarán CLG Larry McCarthy in 2021 and chaired by Ned Quinn.
The Work Group met on a total of 27 occasions since last July, and conducted two field test sessions. These involved a cross-section of senior inter-county players and were augmented by a series of laboratory tests, which testified to the durability of the chip/tag.
The new ‘Smart Sliotar’ has performed impeccably throughout the oneills.com All-Ireland U-20 hurling championship.
According to GAA Sliotar Work Group member, Eoin McDonagh, its development will help safeguard the integrity of the game.
'The sliotar and the camán are the two integral parts of our unique sport,” said McDonagh. “Ensuring the adherence to their specifications, as laid down in rule, is key to safeguarding the integrity of our wonderful game.
“The SMART sliotar, and all of the processes and requirements that are being put in place related to it, now provides us with a reliable pathway that enables us to guarantee the integrity of the game of hurling is maintained, from the perspective of the sliotar at least'.
Eagle-eyed viewers in Semple Stadium today may will notice sliotar bins located beside both goal-posts and at other areas in the ground which ensures only ‘Smart Sliotars’ are used when a ball goes out of play and a restart is required.
“The Sliotar Bins have eliminated the need for goalkeepers to bring a 'bag of balls' and have also helped to ensure that the playing rule relating to the puck-out is adhered to and consistently applied',” says Sliotar Work Group member and GAA Director of Organisational Culture, Planning & Development, Pat Daly.
When the GAA undertook extensive testing of sliotars supplied by 11 official manufacturers in 2021, the majority of them failed the Coefficient of Restitution test, which basically tests the ‘liveliness’ of the ball and goes a long way to determining how far it can be struck.
In the majority of these cases the Coefficient of Restitution of these sliotars was too high.
Regular testing of sliotars will now take place to ensure they satisfy the newly defined dimensions of an official GAA sliotar, and the GAA Sliotar Work Group has issued an invitation to suppliers to become ‘approved GAA Sliotar suppliers’ on the basis of compliance with the official Sliotar specification and ethical production criteria.
All GAA approved Sliotar suppliers were invited to produce Smart Sliotars with the embedded chip, but so far only two have done so, O’Neills and Greenfields (PDMR).
The hope is that other Sliotar manufacturers will opt to do so in the future.
Companies seeking approved supplier status are requested to contact Pat Daly in Croke Park.
His contact information is as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org