GAA defends ‘experimental’ use of AI for match programmes after online backlash

Tyrone captured the All-Ireland U20 Football Championship with a six-point win over Kerry in Portlaoise on Sunday and, inset, the match programme from the game
Tyrone captured the All-Ireland U20 Football Championship with a six-point win over Kerry in Portlaoise on Sunday and, inset, the match programme from the game -Credit:Main image: ©INPHO/Ben Brady; Inset: DBA publications


The GAA has issued a statement defending its use of Artificial Intelligence to create the artwork for the front covers of several of last weekend’s match programmes, including Sunday’s All-Ireland U20 final between Tyrone and Kerry.

On one of the busiest weekends of Championship action so far this summer, the art for three programmes were generated using AI applications.

The programme cover for the Munster Minor Hurling final between Clare and Tipperary, in particular, attracted plenty of comments on social media after some flaws were highlighted by Irish artist Barry Masterson.

Read more: Recap as Tyrone clinch second All-Ireland U20 title in three seasons with impressive defeat of Kerry

Read more: Sean Cavanagh column: Mickey Harte always had same curious obsession and it is costing Derry now

He posed on X/Twitter: “Things are tough at the best of times but I might have to pack it in at this rate honestly if this is what we have to look forward to”.

Highlighting the imagery on the Clare vs Tipperary programme, he added: “I especially love the hurl that disappears into someone's flesh ball, and the masks tearing through their faces, looks painful. I know hurlers are tough but this might be pushing the narrative.”

The programme for Sunday’s U20 All-Ireland Football Final between Tyrone and Kerry in Portlaoise depicted two AI generated players, although the Kerry player has a misshapen left hand in the image.

The programme for last weekend’s Leinster SHC round four games, which included Antrim’s home clash with Galway at Corrigan Park, used a generic hurler in a green Leinster jersey.

The programmes were produced by DBA publications on behalf of the GAA and and spokesman for the GAA said the use of AI was an experiment by one of its partners.

“We are constantly trialling new ideas for our match programme covers and this was a case of experimentation from our publishing partner's graphic designers,” the statement said.

A number of comments on social media over the weekend criticised the GAA’s use of AI and the imagery used for the match programmes.

Commenting on the Tyrone vs Kerry programme, one user wrote on X: “That’s actually quite shocking. The Kerry lad’s hand is behind the Tyrone guy’s shoulder even though he’s clearly in front of him. Are the even meant to be two real U20 players?”

Another user said: “As an avid collector of match programmes that looks cheap and trashy." One poster remarked: “Looks like Roy of the Rovers magazine back in the day.”

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