McGeady pointed out that there is a commercial market for such material, e.g. GaelicStats.com. There are also other sites from which interested parties can gather data, e.g. dontfoul.wordpress.com. In addition, many media outlets provide some basic statistics on the games they cover. Therefore, one might wonder why there is the need for the GAA to collect (or purchase) and distribute such statistics. Who would benefit from such a change? Not Rob Carroll of GaelicStats.com (unless the GAA purchased his services to collect the statistics). The media might get the statistics cheaper than having to purchase them. The GAA and the wider public might benefit from a greater evidenced based discussion of the games. However, the case for greater GAA intervention is far from settled.
For the moment, let us go with the McGeady suggestion. It is possible to read the McGeady piece as suggesting the GAA coordinating the collection and distribution of statistics from county teams. Alternatively, the GAA could outsource the collection of data to a professional firm like Opta or GaelicStats. Or, it could use its army of nationwide volunteers to collect the data. If the GAA desired then it could establish a GAAStats wiki. In this case they could have those who use the stats collection apps on their phones to submit their data to a central system. The central system would facilitate some cross checking and verification of the data. It may not have the internal consistency of an Opta system but it could benefit from the wisdom of crowds. Such a system is a possibility. However, it would require some planning and regulation.
The biggest issue would involve deciding on the exact definition of the data to be collected. Let me illustrate some of the issues using data on the 2015 Munster Senior Hurling Final between Tipperary and Waterford. I'm going to use the stats provided by the broadcaster of the live event (RTE) and two newspapers (Irish Examiner and Irish Independent). Below are the scoring statistics. The numbers in blue font are "correct" but many of those in black font are open to interpretation.
The numbers in red font (above) are a problem that is easier to explain and clarify. It seems that 65s are classified as frees. The denominator is harder to explain. Waterford committed 11 fouls. What frees are not included in the denominator? Ones that are outside the scoring range? Again there would need to be some common understanding on these issues.
Both teams hit one free wide. They also struck one wide each from a side line puck - something not included in the statistics above.
The difficulty with definition carries over into what we might call the "possession" statistics. Here are the statistics from RTE, the Irish Independent, and the Irish Examiner. Not all sources agree on the stats to be collected and there is some disagreement on the exact numbers.
What statistics would we need to examine the role of the "sweeper"? It is hard to know. However, some numbers might suggest that there is greater variation to the "sweeper" role than is acknowledged. Padraic Maher (Tipperary) collected the ball on three occasions where it was battled or blocked by the Tipperary full-back. By contrast, Tadhg de Burca (Waterford) got three hand passes from his full-back. There was also a difference in what each sweeper did with the ball. Maher accounted for 33% of all Tipperary hand passes on the day (and he also delivered a few short stick passes). By contrast, De Burca accounted for about 5% of Waterford's hand passes.
McGeady's suggestion is a good one but it will require a bit of thought. Maybe the GAA should facilitate this discussion.