Sub rules must be straightened out

LAST Sunday evening, in the giddy aftermath of Mayo's pulsating victory over Dublin, Curve Ball had a quick chat with an ecstatic Lee Keegan, deep in the bowels of the Hogan Stand.

By this stage some 55 minutes of football (plus almost 10 of injury-time) had elapsed in his absence. He had been replaced by Richie Feeney who, in turn, had been substituted by Jason Gibbons. He had spent an hour or more in the Mater Hospital, having his badly damaged digit assessed and treated. He wasn't even in Croker for the final whistle.

Yet, under GAA rules, this had only been a 'temporary little arrangement'.

No wonder, then, that people have called into question the application of a 'blood sub' rule that allows a temporary replacement to stay on the field ad infinitum without ever being reclassified as one of your quota of five permanent substitutes.

The example of Keegan is apposite because, while there was a small amount of blood involved, this was clearly not the reason why he never made it back onto the pitch.

Did Mayo break the rules? Definitely not -- a fact acknowledged on Tuesday afternoon by Dublin GAA chiefs.

Did Mayo bend the Official Guide by making eight switches (three of the blood variety) and using 22 different players? Again, even if you believe all these musical Mayo chairs weren't in the 'spirit' of the rules, they were perfectly within their rights.

In the madness of those final minutes, were Mayo officials 100pc sure that everything was above board as they hastily scribbled out one substitution slip after another? We'll take their word for it!

In the cold light of day, however, one presumes and hopes the GAA hierarchy will realise it's high-time we revisited the blood sub rule via one simple amendment. Namely placing a time-limitation (of 10 or 15 minutes) on the period that can pass before a temporary replacement is automatically deemed to become a permanent one.