Diarmuid Connolly’s late cameo against Tyrone may have been down to protecting one of Dublin’s star men from an All-Ireland final suspension, according to former Mayo player John Casey.
Different theories have been doing the rounds since the semi-final cakewalk about why the St Vincent’s man, who had just finished a 12-week ban for pushing a linesman, was granted so little game-time.
Former Kerry player Marc Ó Sé suggested the introduction of the two-time All Star in the 70th minute, with the game long over as a contest, was a "rap across the knuckles" from manager Jim Gavin.
Donegal’s 2012 All-Ireland-winning manager Jim McGuinness offered his opinion in the Irish Times: it was a statement from the boss that his three-in-a-row-chasing side are in such fine fettle that they can do without arguably the best footballer in the country.
But speaking on the RTÉ GAA podcast, Casey suggested that it could have been a case of Gavin protecting the player from himself.
Connolly was twice black-carded during the league, another one would have carried an automatic suspension.
"I’m not sure if Diarmuid Connolly had a black card issue hanging over him from the league matches," said Casey.
"I read somewhere he was in black card jeopardy and had he received a black card in the semi-final he was likely to miss the final.
"That’s subject to confirmation. That might have been a reason Jim Gavin left it very late to bring him on it that game."
According to the GAA's playing rules, three black cards, or "orderings-off" of any colour, in a given season would result in an automatic and immediate one-match ban.
"Fixed Penalty for a cumulation of three orderings-offs for Cynical Behavior or Second Cautionable Infractions committed in the same year in the National Football League, the Inter-County Senior Football Championship or in a combination of both Competition.
"A One Match Suspension applicable to the next game in the combination of the National Football League/Inter-County Senior Football Championship, even if that game occurs in the following year."
Having already missed Dublin's Leinster semi-final and final, plus the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Monaghan, it would be understandable were Gavin to avoid the risk of losing his talented half-forward for the biggest game of the year.