Wednesday 18 September 2019

Martin Breheny: Temporary substitutions remain a bloody mess

Paul Conroy of Galway. Photo: Sportsfile
Paul Conroy of Galway. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

When midfielder Peter Cooke was black-carded just after Galway scored their crucial goal in stoppage time against Mayo on Sunday, they sent Tom Flynn - who had been replaced by Seán Kelly ten minutes earlier - back on.

He made one spectacular catch and also scored a point, two important interventions at a time when Mayo were desperately trying to save the day. Galway had already used six subs but were still entitled to replace Cooke because of the ridiculous loophole which persists in the blood sub rule.

A bloodied Paul Conroy (above) had been forced off after being elbowed in the face by Diarmuid O'Connor in the 29th minute and since he hadn't returned by the 75th minute, it's fair to assume it wasn't just a cut that kept him out.

Yet, because there's no time limit on how long a player can be off the pitch with a blood injury without his replacement becoming a permanent sub, there's a clear loophole in the rule.

It can - in effect - lead to a team quite legally using more than six subs. That was never meant to be the case with a rule which was introduced to give doctors a chance to work on blood injuries. If that can't be completed in a maximum of 15 minutes, the replacement should be regarded as a full substitution.

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