A loophole in the GAA rulebook has saved Sligo from a first round qualifier replay with Antrim.
The Connacht side were proven to have acted within regulations when allowing blood sub Kyle Cawley remain on the field for the closing 26 minutes of Saturday’s qualifier win at home to Antrim.
Cawley came in for Mark Breheny as a blood replacement on 44 minutes, one of seven players used off the bench by Sligo.
Antrim queried the use of seven replacements, with talks of a replay surfacing over the weekend. A rematch, however, was yesterday ruled out as Breheny’s departure had been recorded as a blood substitution. According to GAA rules, a maximum of six substitutions is permitted during a football match, but blood substitutions can be made throughout the game in addition to those six changes.
Laois were last year ordered to replay Armagh having made seven changes over the course of their qualifier meeting.
Laois had made six subs when Shane Murphy came in for the black-carded Brendan Quigley three minutes into second-half stoppages. None of the earlier six changes were blood replacements, leaving Croke Park with no option but to declare the result null and void.
Meanwhile, Cork, Limerick and Waterford are expected to seek a designated club window in April as part of the hurling proposals to be debated at Special Congress in September. Counties have until July 14 to put forward amendments for the reform of the All-Ireland hurling championship and there is concern that changing the structure to a round-robin format will impact on club games in April, May and June - the number of Munster SHC games is set to rise from four to 11, while the figure in Leinster will jump from six to 11.
Under the blueprint for reform, counties will be tied up in provincial action across the concluding three weekends of May and the opening fortnight of June. And with a mid-April finish suggested for the league, the window to run off club championship games is reduced.
Delegates at last week’s Cork County Board meeting argued club players would be marginalised were these proposals given the green light.
A tranche of Cork SHC first round games were played on the first weekend of last month but this would not be possible under the new format as the 2018 Munster championship has a May 13 start.
Further first round games, involving county panelists, were played on the final weekend of May. And similarly, this weekend would be ruled out of action next year owing to the beefed-up nature of the Munster competition.
Elsewhere, Mayo have been handed home advantage for their second round football qualifier against Derry. Meath were drawn at home to Sligo, Donegal welcome Longford, while Laois and Clare will meet at O’Moore Park.
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