Galway did not breach rules on substitutes in Mayo win

Galway’s use of Thomas Flynn to replace Peter Cooke in the Connacht quarter-final win over Mayo on Sunday did not breach a substitute rule.

The blood substitute loophole has been exploited by teams for several years, allowing teams to make permanent replacements without them constituting official substitutes as there is no time limit.

Galway’s alterations in Castlebar were more unusual as their seventh substitute involved replacing black-carded Cooke. It was Cooke who came on for Paul Conroy in the first half after he suffered a facial injury following Diarmuid O’Connor’s hit, which saw the Mayo forward dismissed. However, Cooke wasn’t considered a permanent replacement.

Galway made five more personnel exchanges prior to Flynn, who had initially left the fray to be replaced by Seán Kelly, coming on for Cooke after he was issued with a black card. Six substitutes have been permitted in Gaelic football since the introduction of the black card in 2014.

Mayo themselves have benefited from the blood sub loophole on a number of occasions, most notably the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final win over Dublin. Lee Keegan and Enda Varley left the field having sustained blood injuries and were replaced, but neither returned to the field.

Earlier this year, Longford made seven substitutes in their Division 3 win over Offaly. In last year’s All-Ireland SFC qualifiers, Sligo used seven replacements against Antrim. Mark Breheny was replaced by Kyle Cawley and didn’t return to the fray as Sligo made another six personnel exchanges.

In last year’s Division 1 draw between Kerry and Dublin in Tralee, Donnchadh Walsh was benched as a blood sub for Kerry against Dublin in Tralee and Barry John Keane took his place only for Walsh to come back on for Adrian Spillane.

In 2002, Cork used more than 20 players in their Munster SFC final win against Tipperary but proved at the time there was no penalty for breaking the blood sub rule.

Twelve years ago, Kildare queried the result of their Leinster quarter-final defeat to Offaly when they made five substitutes along with a blood sub. No rule was breached .

In 2008, Dublin’s Ciaran Whelan came on as a blood sub for Shane Ryan in their Leinster semi-final against Westmeath, staying on for eight minutes before he was brought on for Ryan for another 14 minutes when he shed blood again. Whelan finished as a permanent substitute for Eamon Fennell.

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