Thursday 5 December 2019

Sub confusion adds up to big headache for Laois

Shane Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile
Shane Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

There are so many personnel involved with county teams nowadays that, as Connacht Council secretary John Prenty pointed out in his annual report this year, "two buses are needed to bring everyone to games."

I can't say whether that is the case in Laois but you can be assured that there are more than enough to cater for the squad's needs and some more with it.

Yet, for all the back-up, Laois somehow managed to play too many subs against Armagh last Saturday, with Shane Murphy's arrival in place of Brendan Quigley, who had been black-carded in stoppage time in the second half, tipping them into the illegal zone.

The responsibility for monitoring replacements falls to the competing teams so no blame can be attached to the referee or his officials.

No, this was a Laois error and while it was obviously a genuine mistake, it's still an embarrassment all round.

Between blood subs, black card subs and standard replacements, sideline activity can be confusing but it's scarcely so baffling as to make such a basic mistake in big championship game.

Laois' blunder apart, there's a great inconsistency in the replacement business, one that hasn't been cleared up despite the obvious anomaly. There's no limit on how long a blood sub can remain in the action without being regarded as a full-time replacement.

This was not an issue in the Laois case but it crops up quite often over a season.

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The blood sub rule was introduced in order to give team doctors an opportunity to treat wounds without the player tugging impatiently to get back into the action.

However, there have been an increasing number of cases where it's being used as a means of using subs more strategically. That was never the intention.

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