AI imagery on hurling and football programmes was ‘experimentation’, GAA says amid backlash

Artists and fans have criticised the AI-created covers over glaring errors

The AI 'art' featured on the cover of the Clare vs Tipperary Munster hurling final programme cover.
The AI 'art' featured on the cover of the Clare vs Tipperary Munster hurling final programme cover.

The GAA has said the use of artwork created by Artificial Intelligence (AI) for match programmes was “experimentation” after the images were criticised by artists and fans.

Comic book-style AI illustrations featured on the cover of the matchday programme for Sunday’s Tyrone vs Kerry U20 All-Ireland football final in the U20 All-Ireland football final.

Imagery created by AI also featured on the cover of the programme for Clare vs Tipperary in the Munster hurling minor final earlier this month.

On Saturday, the images were shared on social media by artist Barry Masterson, who has produced artwork for soccer match programmes published by the FAI.

The Co Longford-born artist criticised the covers and other imagery featuring in the programmes, which included glaring errors typical of AI ‘art’.

In one image, the bar on a faceguard of a hurler appeared to enter his mouth. In another the fist of a player appeared misshapen, which is common in such imagery as current AI software often has difficulty recreating accurate hands and feet.

“There are a ton of Irish artists who specialise in GAA illustration you could commission and support,” he said in an X post directed at the official GAA account.

“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.”

Joking about the errors, 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.”

Others to comment on the imagery included Co Kerry illustrator Ciara Kenny, who sells work under the name Ciaraíoch.

“Seeing it more and more from groups and organisations who should know better,” she said of AI-created artwork

“If an actual artist submitted that, it would rightly be rejected as poorly done.”

Responding to the criticisms, a GAA spokesperson said: “We are constantly trialling new ideas for our match programme covers and this was a case of experimentation from our publishing partners’ graphic designers.”