Those lucky enough to be present at DkIT for last Saturday’s TED Talk by Renault Ambassador and Louth manager Colin Kelly were treated to a truly inspiring symposium. Ambassador Kelly’s talk, on the fusion of aviation technology and field sports, was attended by a host of European managerial heavyweights including three time UEFA Champions League winner and Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, World Cup winning German coach Joachim Löw as well as several aviation industry captains and numerous delegations from Japan.
The much anticipated talk, entitled The Role of Aviation Technology in Modern Field Sports: Application and Execution, was by invite only. While the TED talk was tailored to GAA, its broader appeal for field sports in general is apparent. Ambassador Kelly’s proposed use of the chopper allows a glimpse into one of the most innovative minds working in modern GAA.
Ambassador Kelly hopes to exploit a loophole in the rules whereby the use of drones or indeed the helicopter is not (yet) explicitly prohibited under the rules of GAA. Incidentally, he considers drones an untested liability labelling them ‘too soft in the shoulder.’ After a 20 minute standing ovation, Ambassador Kelly fielded questions from the floor and spoke openly about how he would apply his strategy against Armagh this coming weekend.
“We have to be realistic so we do. We’re a wee county so we are and we need to make the most of the tools at our disposal and I’m not going to stand here and take our recent defeats sitting down so I’m not.
“When I saw the fixture list I knew the away game in Armagh was the one to unleash the system. The game in Fermanagh (a nine point defeat) came too soon for our pilots.”
His Excellency Kelly is royally puzzled as to why no other county has employed helicopters against the northern teams given their strong performance since the turn of the millennium and the historic baggage the chopper holds in the north. During the Troubles, British army helicopters would hover low over gaelic grounds during matches forcing the teams to either abandon the field or play a short hand passing game. However, 17 years have passed since the Good Friday Agreement and actual in game experience of helicopters has largely passed out of playing memory.
“Rule 21 has been rescinded this near fifteen year so it has and here in Louth we are open to all creeds and if they want to play gaelic games we’ll welcome them and give them the tools to excel, be it top class training facilities, the latest football boots or helicopters. It’s up to Croke Park to make and pass rules so it is. But until they do, we’ll continue to use whatever isn’t illegal.”
Captain Basil Huntington-Bryers Esq. and his co-pilot Lieutenant Percy Splendid of the Royal Helicopter Squadron have been given a crash course in the national game over the past weeks. The duo, who have extensive search and destroy experience in Afghanistan, have been a revelation in training. Panel member Colm Judge has been impressed.
“They’ve been fucking class so they have, even if they are protestants.”
On paper, Louth’s plan seems flawless. Kickouts will be aimed at Conor ‘Thor’ Grimes in the hovering chopper who will then proceed to solo the ball and fist it over the bar from the rope ladder as it passes low over the posts. The Ambassador expounded…
“It takes two to fly the helicopter and a third to man the rope ladder. So we’re three men down on the ground before throw in. Conor Grimes is a fine strapping lad of a man so he is and he’s been training in the chopper all week. He’s got great upper body strength which you need if you’re going to be hanging on the rope ladder and soloing the ball. You have to fist the ball over the bar due to the rotational velocity and downward force of the blades. Anyone who has tried it will appreciate it for the skill it is. I can see an All Star nomination it for him if he applies himself.”
The only conceivable problems would be inclement weather and the past alcoholic problems and erratic behaviour of Captain Huntington-Bryers.
Should use of the helicopter not be as effective as hoped, Ambassador Kelly isn’t afraid to rely on the tried and tested tactic of getting the early ball into crack corner forward Blackie Judge.
Lieutenant Splendid was enthusiastic about the game.
“It’s a nixer for us really innit? We love being in Éire and look forward to some pints of the Guinness and some crack after the game.”
Thrown in is at 7pm on Saturday in Armagh.