Ballyboden St. Endas v Kilcoo 2019 All Ireland Club Final

January 8, 2020

A high level overview shows an incredibly close game that, on chances alone, Ballyboden edged. They had 21 shots, with an Expected return of 0 – 14; Kilcoo produced 20 shots expected to return 1 – 10. They were created off very similar Attack Rates (78% apiece), Shot Rates (68% v 69%) and Conversion Rates (52% v 50%).

And yet Ballyboden were scrambling at the end trying to claw back a five point deficit with ten minutes to go. How did Ballyboden return a similar Conversion Rate to that of Kilcoo, off roughly the same number of shots, but find themselves in that hole? In large part due to their shot type.

Ballyboden shooting

Disc = score, X= miss; yellow = deadball, red = attempt on goal, black = point attempt from play 1st half, black = 2nd half

13 (10x frees and 3x 45s) of Ballyboden’s 21 shots were deadballs. That accounts for 62% of all their attempts which is an incredibly high volume; both in absolute terms and as a percentage of a teams’ total shot count. In the four provincial finals the next highest was seven shots from deadballs for Padraig Pearses in the Connacht final which accounted for 41% of all their shots.

Given this high volume Ballyboden had to ensure accuracy on their deadballs to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Instead they were poor scoring just 0 – 07 (54%; Expt Pts of -2.43).

Looking at the shot chart calling that 54% poor would seem harsh as they scored 0 – 07 from the nine attempts closer to goal and missed the four “50:50” chances from around the 45. But if these were true “50:50” chances then the average for the four would have been 0 – 02. To not get any of them is very poor especially as all four were taken with the benefit of a noticeable wind.

That brings up another quirk in the Ballyboden game – their lack of long range shooting. With that wind in the second half the furthest they attempted a shot from was c25 metres. In the first half they only had one shot (from play) from outside the 20m line. They were very conservative in their shooting.

Compare that to Kilcoo

Kilcoo shooting

With the wind in the first half Kilcoo had ten shots with nine of them coming from “outside”. The tenth was Johnston’s goal which was worked off a turnover high up the pitch.

Kilcoo only managed to score 0 – 02 from those nine point attempts so it was not necessarily a very accurate ploy (22% Conversion Rate; Expt pts -1.76) but it is in stark contrast to how Ballyboden used the wind. The old Wayne Gretzky adage of “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” comes to mind.

Of course, the other difference with Kilcoo’s shooting was their goal attempts. Kilcoo created three scoring 2 – 00. Ballyboden only had the one shot at goal which was a tight angled attempt that ensued from a scramble deep into injury time.

Kilcoo were very good in this aspect in the Ulster final as well meaning that they have scored 4 – 01 from just seven attempts on goal in two games. This is well above what would be expected. Can they maintain this in the final? Generally, you would expect their returns on goal attempts to revert to the mean but that’s in a long run of games. Nothing is set for just one game.

Kickouts

Possession from kickouts was a wash. Both teams lost one short kickout whilst the possession was evenly split on those that landed past the 45 (Kilcoo won possession on 11 to Ballyboden’s 10). No great split by keeper either; Kilcoo won six of Ballyboden’s 13 kickouts past the 45 with Ballyboden winning four of Kilcoo’s eight

One slightly strange aberration was that Kilcoo didn’t manage a shot from any of the five Ballyboden kickouts they won. This wasn’t an apparent issue in the Ulster final against Naomh Conaill, when they scored
0 – 02, off two shots, from four Naomh Conaill kickouts. But one of those shots came from a short one that went wrong. Over their last two games that is seven opposition kickouts past the 45 they have claimed – but only produced one shot from same. If they get a toe hold in the final through Corofin’s kickout they’ll have to do more.

Ballyboden St. Endas v Éire Óg 2019 Leinster Club Final

December 10, 2019

When reviewing games here we rarely reference the weather (except for last year’s Ulster club final) – mainly because the games covered are intercounty Championship played in the best of weather on (mainly) perfectly maintained pitches. This wasn’t the case here. There was a very strong wind down the pitch, the rain came and went throughout the game leading to a greasy ball and the ground was dead and heavy. All of which led to difficult handling conditions, placing numerous players under huge pressure, as well as changing the normal shooting zones.

A quick visual on how the conditions affected the game – below are the shots from play with the wind (white) and without (black).

Against the wind the furthest score was c25m from the goals. Only one shot was from further than 30m out. This in turn compresses the area that needs to be defended and can lead to more turnovers if the attacking team don’t stand off stringing a series of non-threatening passes together.

With all that said above are the numbers. There were only 31 shots in the game (the Munster final had 45, Ulster 37 and Connacht 36) with a total of 60 turnovers (Munster x43, Ulster x33 and Connacht x34) and 88 possessions (Munster x81, Ulster x69 and Connacht x68). The usual metrics of Shot Rate, Attack Rate and points per possession really don’t stack up.

That’s not to say the high turnover volume was purely down to the conditions. There were 24 turnovers higher up the pitch outside each teams’ respective 45 which is indicative of excellent tackling and physical aggression without cynicism. That lack of cynicism is further evidenced by the fact that there were just five shots at goal from frees throughout the whole game.

When Ballyboden had the ball

Ballyboden may not have taken many shots but they handled the conditions, shooting wise, better than Éire Óg did; they were 70% (0 – 07 from 10) on point attempts from play as against 43% (0 – 06 from 14) for Éire Óg. They also managed to eke out the only shot on goal.

Conal Keaney was evergreen scoring on all three attempts and also setting up another shot.

When Éire Óg had the ball

Éire Óg struggled to use the wind in the first half. They had a purple patch around the 10th minute when they scored 0 – 03 from three in sixty seconds. But outside that they didn’t have another shot in the first 20 minutes and then finished the half with nothing from four attempts.

The accuracy didn’t improve against the wind in the second half scoring another 0 – 03 from seven shots from play whilst another two opportunities went abegging with forced free kicks.
Séan Gannon was immense scoring 0 – 02 from 3 as well as providing the primary assists for another four shots.

Kickouts

Just a quick note on Éire Óg’s kickouts.

black = 1st half, white = 2nd half

They had just the four kickouts in the first half and, with the wind, went long(ish) on all of them winning possession on three. Against Portlaoise their mid to long kickouts broke 50:50 (won five, lost five). All good.

Against the wind they had seven kickouts but lost five; including two of the last three that led to Ballyboden points at the death. Could they have changed up those last few? Should they have? Not once did they go short. Ballyboden did so on three of their six against the wind. In the semi-final Éire Óg went short six times so it was in their locker. But having said that they did win a long one immediately after going a point behind but then kicked the ball away. Who is to say the outcome would be any different if they did go short? And there was a subtle change; their first four against the wind went mid to right and after losing three they went mid left with the last three. It just didn’t work.

Kilcoo v Naomh Conaill 2019 Ulster Club Final

December 5, 2019

Kilcoo on the ball

Kilcoo’s start, up until the second goal which put them six points clear, was as clinical a display as you will find.

That is an 86%** Conversion Rate (2 – 10 from 14 shots – above) with 0.82 points per possessions. Everything was working; Conor Laverty was immense leading the line being directly involved in seven of those 14 shots. Darryl Branagan had scored 1 – 01 and was involved in the build up to the other goal. Everything was working; they scored immediately off a turnover inside Naomh Conaill’s 45, off a Naomh Conaill short
kickout that went awry as well as getting shots off after stringing 28 & 30 passes together.

**Technically it is 79% as Eugene Branagan’s point in the 12th minute was pushed over by McGrath

And then it wasn’t. From the Branagan goal in the 38th minute to his relieving point in the 59th Kilcoo only managed one shot. And that was again from Branagan. Indeed, from that second goal Kilcoo only managed three shots in total with Darryl Branagan taking two. The other was the breakaway in injury time where Ward tried to lob the keeper from 40 metres. No midfielder or forward had a point attempt for the guts of 30 minutes

The visual impression from the TV pictures (always the worst methodology from which to draw sweeping statements!) was that they went into their shell in that 20 minute period between the Branagan scores. Do the numbers support that?

Post the second goal they lost the possession count 12 – 8 after winning that particular battle 22-19 up to that point. Part of this reversal was the fact that Naomh Conaill got their hands on two of Kilcoo’s seven kickouts whilst Naomh Conaill held onto their only two. Nothing untoward there – except for what that means on turnovers. Kilcoo were 5 – 4 ahead on kickouts but 3 – 8 behind on turnovers. In 30 minutes, from the 10th minute to the 2nd goal, Kilcoo gave up a measly three turnovers. Then they gave up eight in 20 minutes.

Now part of all this is undoubtedly regression to the mean. No club team can keep the numbers Kilcoo were producing going. Part was undoubtedly Naomh Conaill stepping up. Desperation at going six behind propelled them forward. Given their travails in Donegal finals over the past few years they are far from meek lambs.

But part is also a change in how Kilcoo played and used the ball. Again, anecdotally Laverty seemed to be on the ball around the 45 and 65 a lot more in the closing 15 minutes. They also used the ball differently. The proportion of individual possessions inside and outside the 45 changed. It was roughly 3.8:1 (213 individual possessions outside the 45 to 56 inside) in the dominant period up until their 2nd goal. But thereafter it was 5:1; 100 possessions outside the 45 to 20 inside. They slowed up the delivery, invited Naomh Conaill on, and turned it over with less of a focal point up top.

Naomh Conaill on the ball

Naomh Conaill’s method of attack was very different to Kilcoo’s. Whereas Kilcoo were using Laverty at the head of the attack, alongside some hard running from Darryl Branagan and the Johnstons, Naomh Conaill much preferred the high ball into the full forward. Whilst an undoubted tactic and given the trend towards ball retention in recent years one, especially at club level, that defences are not used to dealing with, it is also quite volatile. How often does a high ball in result in a clean catch? In a goal? In a score from a flick on or a subsequent scramble?

The type of attack is not something I have tracked. Not because it is unimportant but mainly because we are viewing games on TV from one main camera angle. What happens pre the ball coming in (no. of forwards v defenders, the runs being made, has the full forward boxed out the full back etc.) is very hard to determine. So, the numbers here stand on their own without any context of what we would expect to happen.

Naomh Conaill launched ten high balls, on nine separate possession, into the square. Some were better than others but in the main they were on point into the square. Of those ten they manufactured four shots and scored 0 – 02 though the Expt Pts on those four shots was +3.14.

We know that “good” attacks will return 0.35 – 0.40 points per possession (ppp). On their high balls Naomh Conaill returned 0.20ppp but this was in part down to poor execution. They should have returned 0.31ppp which isn’t far off the average. That Expt Pts is very high for just four shots – and is part of the thought process behind using the high ball. You’ll get less shots but the ones you do get should be (will be?) much easier.

On the 26 possessions where they didn’t launch a high ball, they had 16 shots (a shot 62% of the time vs 40% on the high balls) scoring 2 – 07 or 0.50 ppp. The Expt Pts on these 16 shots was +9.98 or 0.38ppp
A muddled enough picture. Naomh Conaill definitely got more (much more) on those possessions they didn’t launch in. But a large part of that was from excellent shooting (+3.02 on Expt Pts on non-high balls v -1.14 on the high balls). When we look at the Expt Pts for both the gap is much narrower (0.31ppp for high balls vs 0.38ppp for non-high balls).

And this is where the volatility comes in. Naomh Conaill got less shots but one of them was a goal attempt from the edge of the small square which was blasted over. You get the sense that to make the constant frequent high ball tactic work you need a goal.

Portlaoise v Éire Óg 2019 Leinster Club SF

November 29, 2019

Portlaoise really struggled offensively in the second half. They only managed seven shots, five from play, and whilst many will look to attribute this to (a) having a man sent off and (b) then chasing a goal this somewhat conceals how they were going. Up until Lillis’ red card the shot count in the second half was 8 – 4 in Éire Óg’s favour whilst they were 0 – 05 to 0 – 01 ahead on the scoreboard.

It is hard, from a purely numeric perspective, to know how much opprobrium to heap on an attack when there is a poor offensive display or, conversely, how much praise should be heaped on the defending team. But from Éire Óg’s perspective there are some things we can elicit. Like their discipline; both in terms of shape and tackling.

Up until the red card Portlaoise had 33 possessions. Of those 15 had at least a double digit volume of passes yet in these 15 possessions Éire Óg only gave away one shot from free, didn’t cough up a goal chance and only allowed 0 – 01 from nine point attempts. Portlaoise couldn’t break them down, got frustrated by Éire Óg’s shape and tenacity, and started taking poor options (0 – 02 from 12 “outside” below)

Éire Óg did what was required up front. Missed a penalty but converted their other two goal chances. Recovered from some shaky frees in the first half to score 0 – 04 from six. 41% (0 – 07 from 17) on point attempts.

Despite scoring 2 – 11, which is an excellent score at this time of year, this was achieved through volume rather than accuracy. Their attacking play complemented their excellent defensive play rather than trumping it.

Therein Darragh O’Brien was quietly excellent. He may not have shown up on the scoreboard (0 – 01 compared to Chris Blake’s 1 – 04 for example), but was exemplary in the No.11 position with a very impressive eight primary assists.

Kickouts

This was in interesting battle throughout the game. Above is Portlaoise’s kickout chart. They were able to get them away into the left full/half back pocket relatively easily. One went out over the sideline but nothing much came of it. This is Brody’s natural pocket (when he opened his body and went to his right Blake caught it short of the 45 and scored a point) and was more or less given to Portlaoise. But they were then not able to use it.

Portlaoise got their hands on 14 short kickouts. All bar one were roll outs into the D or into that pocket. Portlaoise were only able to progress four to a shot. The possession on five didn’t make the Éire Óg 45 whilst another four saw just one player control the ball inside that 45. Éire Óg just suffocated them as they progressed up the pitch.

On the flip side Éire Óg really struggled on their kickout in the first half.

An over simplification for sure but they had two kickouts in that half; long mid-right into a contest on the 65 and onto the 45 by the sideline to the keeper’s left. 7 of their 10 first half kickouts went into these two areas with Portlaoise getting their hands on five.

Truth be told Portlaoise didn’t produce enough to put the Éire Óg keeper under pressure in the second half but when he was called upon (even before the Lillis red card reduced Portlaoise’s options) he changed it up avoiding the two first half pockets and dropping the ball into an area between the 45 & 65 to his left. They won 3 of 4 here and also picked up two short ones. Portlaoise were never able to put them under the sort of intense pressure that produced in the first half where they won four out of five Éire Óg kickouts racking up 1 – 02

Corofin v Padraig Pearses 2019 Connacht Club Final

November 27, 2019

Nothing spectacular from Corofin. 1 – 00 from their two attempts at goal; 0 – 03 from four frees and 0 – 07 from 13 on point attempts. Expected to score 13 points. Scored 1 – 10. All in all, an average enough outing.

I imagine Pearses will be annoyed with their days work. They missed two relatively straight forward central frees which were somewhat cancelled out by a converted 45. But that 45 aside they skied a very good one on one goal chance and converted just 0 – 03 from 8 point attempts.

Those numbers don’t take into account their very slow start. It was the 12th minute before they controlled the ball inside Corofin’s 45 with a Niall Daly point attempt. It was the 19th minute before a Pearses player completed a pass from within the 45 by which time they had only controlled the ball twice inside the 45 (alongside Daly’s shot Carey attempted a free out on the sideline after getting fouled).
And yet for all that after 40 minutes it was 0 – 06 apiece and Pearses were 13-12 ahead on the shot count.

Reading way too much into it Corofin let Pearses hang around despite their terrible (metric wise) start but once Pearses drew level they upped it a gear, scored 1 – 02 in five minutes, allowing Pearses just one possession in that time, and then saw out the game.

Corofin shooting

Corofin were their clinical selves “inside” scoring 1 – 07 from just nine shots with the missed attempt being a contested fisted goal attempt from a dropping diagonal ball.


Disc = score, X = miss; red = goal attempt, yellow = deadball, black = point attempt from play 1st half, white = point attempt from play 2nd half

The flip side is that their “outside” shooting was quite poor; 0 – 02 from 8 from play.

This may just be a blip – not only in terms of Conversion Rate but also volume. They were 0 – 03 from just five attempts “outside” against BallintubberBallintubberBallintubber and in their devastating 1st halves against Dr Crokes and Gaoth Dobhair (below), at the end of last year’s campaign, attempted just 5 of 26 shots from “outside”

When it matters, they don’t do “outside” shooting.

Corofin’s range of attacking players was again on display here. From their 15 shots from play they had 11 different shooters. Padraig Pearses had five (and only one was not named Daly!).
Ian Burke’s quick hands were on full display again – giving the pass inside for Liam Silke’s goal and also providing the primary assist on four other point attempts.

Kickouts

Nothing much there to be honest. But we now have two Corofin games where we can overlay their kickouts.

30 kickouts in the two games with Corofin winning possession on 77% (23 of 30). One third (10) have gone short (which is below intercounty rates) with Corofin getting their hands on all of them.
Of those that have gone past the 45 Corofin have won possession 60% of the time (12 – 8). This is good – for intercounty Championship games the kickout team wins x% of kickouts past the 45. Looking at the kickout map they prefer hitting the wings in and around the 65 – and avoid the dangerous middle between the 45 & 65. They don’t rely on Marks – only the one across the two games

Corofin v Ballintubber 2019 Connacht Club SF

November 13, 2019

In many ways the game was similar to the 2018 Connacht final (review here) in that the overall numbers (possessions, shots, Conversion Rates) were quite close but Corofin never really felt in any trouble. The below is an extract from that 2018 game

But the main reason for their easy third was due to a devastating 15 minute spell from the 33rd minute onwards. In that period Corofin had 16 possessions taking eleven shots … and scoring 1 – 08 (Conversion Rate of 82% with an Expt Pts +3.06).

Corofin had less of a surge in this game but they again showed their clinical nature in the third quarter scoring 1 – 04 from just 5 shots (Expt pts of +3.53) enabling them to ease out to a six point lead after 45 minutes. Ballintubber showed great battling qualities to get within one heading into injury time but the damage had been done.

In another way this game was very different from 2018. The 2018 version was a veritable turnover fest with 90 total possessions of which 58 (64%) were turnovers. Both teams were very careful with the ball here producing just the 63 total possessions in total of which 28 (44%) were turnovers. Both teams played “keep ball” for long periods with 20 of the possessions having a string of at least 10 passes.

That volume of possessions is not just low compared to the 2018 game but very low full stop. On a straight line conversion to a 70 minute intercounty game (they are not the same thing with injury time etc. but this is just for illustrative purposes!) those 63 possessions grade out at 74. The average intercounty Championship total in 2018 & 2019 was 90. In 150 games since 2015 only one game – Fermanagh v Monaghan in 2018 – came in at lower than 74. This was a possession game brought to the extremes.

 

Corofin’s defense

Much has been made (both by myself and others) of the Corofin attack. It wasn’t at full throttle here (50% Conversion Rate from play; 1 – 05 from 12) though the depth of their attack can be gauged by the fact that (a) their three goal shots didn’t come from the vaunted forwards but instead Kieron Molloy & Liam Silke and (b) Gary Sice was 0 – 03 from 3 on frees in 2018 but didn’t take one here when they went 0 – 05 from 5.

Instead of focussing on the attack it is work taking a quick look at their defence through the lens of Ballintubber shooting.

Ballintubber’s slow build up would appear not to have worked. Corofin were able to maintain as clean a “D” as you are likely to see allowing no shot at goal and just two attempts from the very outer edge of the shooting arc.

But the slow build up is not the sole reason for this paucity of close shooting. In the 2018 game (shot chart below) only three Ballintubber shots were taken close to goal despite it being a very different type of game.

In ~130 minutes of high level club football Corofin were able to keep Ballintubber to one goal attempt, did not allow a shot from a free from closer than 35 metres, and only allowed six of 28 point attempts (21%) from “inside”.

2019 All Ireland Review

September 12, 2019

The preview of this game is referenced throughout the below and can be found here

Overview

• Kerry won the possession battle – but mainly through regaining shots rather than kickouts or turnovers
• They also had more shots than Dublin
• On raw volume Kerry had five shots at goal only returning 1 – 01. Dublin had one and returned 1 – 00. But Kerry had a propensity to foul O’Callaghan to stop the attempts at goal whilst O’Shea popped over 0 – 02 from subsequent 45s
• Dublin were brilliant on the use of kickouts scoring 1 – 10 from 25

Dublin attack

(disc = score, X = miss; yellow = deadball, red = attempt at goal, black = point attempt 1st half, white = point attempt 2nd half)

This is not Jim Gavin’s template. In the four games used within the preview Dublin produced a 62% Conversion Rate on point attempts with 54% coming from “outside”. Here they were 47% (0 – 09 from 19) with 63% (12 of 19) coming from “outside”. Neither are horrendous but when compared to their previous outputs it does look like Kerry knocked them out of their stride. I say Kerry but quite a lot of the poor Conversion Rate was execution. Of their 12 shots “outside” I tagged eight as being taken under little or no pressure. From those eight Dublin managed just 0 – 01

Part of the reason for the “inside”/”outside” split was Kerry’s propensity to foul. They gave Dublin eight shots at goal from frees with six being very central – including four on O’Callaghan (nicely rotated by Kerry – one each for Foley, Barry, Murphy & O’Sullivan). These inside frees are also directly relatable to the fact that Dublin only had one shot at goal. Less shots at goal because Kerry were intent to foul O’Callaghan. More fouls equate to less mayhem (rebounds, pulling up for easy point attempts inside the 20m line) which affects the inside/outside ratio.

On those goal attempts, Kerry only allowing one (frees on O’Callaghan aside) was an exceptional defensive effort. From 2018 (the Super8 games onwards) Dublin have averaged five attempts a game (6, 1, 8, 2, 3, 8, 5 and 7 before the drawn game). Even if we include the O’Callaghan attempt that was pulled back for a free (as an aside this isn’t recorded in the database as the end result of the possession was a shot at goal from a free …) that means that Kerry allowed a shot at goal once every 21 possessions. Dublin had been producing a goal attempt once every 8.5 possessions in the run up to the final. And this would appear to be repeatable as after the Munster final Kerry had allowed only eight shots at goal – or one every 23 possessions!

At a player level Kerry were excellent at nailing down Dublin’s Big3 (O’Callaghan, Mannion & Kilkenny). In the run up to the final they were accounting for 49% of Dublin’s point attempts with an incredible Conversion Rate of 71%. Here they combined for just 0 – 03 off five points. You cannot say that these three were peripheral as they combined for 11 primary assists but Kerry did lock down their shooting. One man who was, in an attacking output sense, peripheral was Scully. He didn’t pull the trigger whilst on the pitch and his only primary assist was the final pass for McCaffrey’s goal.

And yet for all this the strength of Dublin’s panel flowed through with Rock & McCaffrey combining for 1- 06 from 9 shots.

Rock’s numbers were gaudy. Scoring 0 – 10 in an All Ireland is a phenomenal achievement. But we must overlay a little context here. 0 – 07 came from nine deadballs with 0 – 06 coming from readily scoreable positions. He got everything, deadball wise, he was expected to and missed two of his three hard ones; – out wide right with his right and the last kick from on the sideline.

Kerry’s attack

Kerry had two more shots than Dublin (31 to 29). This quite simple statement is not to be taken lightly. Only Mayo, in the 2015 semi final and 2017 Final, had achieved this in the 20 late stage games (QF/Super 8s onwards) in Dublin’s drive for 5.

They were very similar to Dublin on point attempts with 19 in total and 58% (11 of 19) “outside”. Dublin were 0 – 03 from 12 on their outside shooting; Kerry 0 – 04 from 11. Dublin got 0 – 06 on their seven “inside” shooting with Kerry producing a relatively poor 0 – 04 from 8.

(disc = score, X = miss; yellow = deadball, red = attempt at goal, black = point attempt 1st half, white = point attempt 2nd half)

Dublin will look to up their “Outside” returns but Kerry equally have room to improve on the easier “Inside” attempts. Whether they will is another matter – their “inside” shooting has been consistently poor all year; in the four games from the Super8 to the semi final they were 59%. I cannot give a concrete reason as to why Kerry have been so consistently poor “inside”. But it is definitely a thing.

The big divergence on how the teams performed, and executed, was on goal attempts. It is a crude (but effective) read through that Kerry restricted Dublin here by fouling O’Callaghan. So their attempts are somewhat supressed in the raw numbers. Still Kerry produced a very impressive five shots at goal but only returned 1 – 01. Given one of these attempts was a penalty – which are converted at a rate > 80%, the expected return is somewhere in the region of 2 – 01.

In the run up to the final Kerry’s Big3 (Clifford, Geaney & O’Brien) had combined for 51% of their attempts from play with an excellent Conversion Rate of 69%. Here they were again to the fore with 48% (11 of 23) of all of Kerry’s shots from play but their radar was well off scoring just 0 – 03 from those 11 shots. And one of those points was an attempt at goal that went over. Given the shots attempted Kerry left 1 – 00/0 – 03 behind them from these three alone.

Luckily (though in truth luck has little to do with it) for Kerry the rest of the team stood up scoring 1 – 06 from 12 attempts (58%; Expt Pts of +2.19). This was in line with what we had seen in the run up – 52% & +4.0 Expt Pts – and should give Kerry confidence that they can keep the scoreboard ticking over

Aside from the raw numbers perhaps the most impressive element was that these “secondary” shooters attempted Kerry’s final six shots producing 1- 04 from the 55th minute onwards. When the pressure was on the shooters outside the Big3 stood up.

Another man who stood up was Séan O’Shea. Whilst Rock had the headline figure of 0 – 10 his deadballs were, as noted above, average. O’Shea converted all seven of his deadballs including three 45s. We are more certain on the Expt Pts for deadballs than from play and O’Shea returned 0 – 02 more from his seven attempts than the average free taker would score. And that is without overlaying the situational position he found himself in “needing” to keep the scoreboard ticking over just to keep Kerry within range.

Kickouts

Despite the fact that the possession regains were relatively even, at 25 v 23, Dublin are still the Kings of the restart. Getting their hands on the ball is only part of their strength – what they do with these restarts is their real weapon. Here they scored 1 – 10 from the 25 kickouts won, or 0.52 points per possession (ppp). Kerry scored 0 – 08 or 0.35ppp

(slight change in language here. Normally we use the phrase “won” the kickout but we’re using “possession regain” instead as won indicates a positive intervention from the keeper or outfield players. Sometimes teams just get lucky when they “win” a kickout)

In the preview it was predicted that kickouts out past the 45 would break even. And so it was with both teams getting their hands on 12 apiece (Dublin won 8 of their 13 that went past the 45; Kerry were 7 of 11 on theirs). The fear for Kerry was their short ones. They had lost seven in the run up to the final and Dublin were primed to pounce getting their hands on 7% of the opposition’s short ones and scoring off each one.

Kerry did give up two short ones. And Dublin did score off both. But both had gone over the sideline and whilst the two quick points hurt it was not calamitous.

Cluxton gave up his first short one of the year. Tommy Walsh intercepted one out to Cluxton’s left and whilst he composed himself to take a shot off same it was a poor effort. If Dublin give you an easy one, whether it is the 1st minute or the 71st, you have to take it.

(disc = kickout team won, X = kickout team lost; black = 1st half, white = 2nd half)

Looking at the kickout chart Ryan did not shirk from the difficult ones … but those “mid mid” kickouts just around the 45 are lethal. Kerry won all four but you have to imagine that Dublin will be looking to pounce on these come the replay. Compare where those four are compared to where Cluxton puts them when he goes past the 45

All Ireland preview; – 3 key areas (Examiner)

September 12, 2019

The below article was originally published in the Irish Examiner on August 31st (the day before the game)

Dublin’s Goal threat

From 2015 – 2018 teams have had a shot at goal once every 18.5 possessions. Dublin have averaged 13.5 in the same timeframe including once every 11.6 possessions in both the 2017 and 2018 campaigns.
In their three competitive games (ignoring the reserve’s run out up in Omagh) this year, from the Super8s onwards, they have recorded 20 goal attempts; 8 vs Cork, 5 vs Roscommon and 7 vs Mayo. That equates to one goal attempt every 8.2 possessions.

That big a jump in one year represents a clear change in strategy.

The catalyst for this change? Con O’Callaghan. He has been directly involved in 60% of these goal chances (6x shots and another 6 assists in the build-up). Not unconnected is the fact that Dublin have earned 0 – 06 from Rock frees after O’Callaghan was fouled. His ability to hold the ball up also enables Dublin’s marauding midfield duo to join the fray. Fenton & MacAuley have combined for 4 – 01 from five attempts.

Can Kerry contain this goal threat? They will have to. First impressions matter and our first Championship glimpse of this Peter Keane led Kerry team was that of Cork ripping the back line asunder for goal chance after goal chance in the Munster final.

There is hope, however. In the four games since then Kerry have allowed just nine shots at goal – or one every 23 possessions. That is immensely frugal and counter to the general view held of this Kerry backline.

If Dublin get their seven shots at goal, then Kerry will concede in the region of 3 – 02. If the Kerry defence can maintain their current form, they will allow two shots at goal conceding 1 – 00/0 – 02.
Incredibly small differentials – but it is in these margins that All Ireland finals are won.

The Big3

Both teams have a Big3 up front. For Dublin they are O’Callaghan, Mannion & Kilkenny. Kerry’s are Geaney, Clifford & O’Brien. Both sets are producing incredibly accurate displays – whichever trio prevails on Sunday will go a long way to deciding the outcome.

In the aforementioned three games Dublin’s Big3 have accounted for 45% (33 of 74) of all their attempts from play combining for an exceptional Conversion Rate of 70% (3 – 20 from the 33 shots). The average intercounty Conversion Rate for shots from play is 48%.

A quick word on Mannion. Over the years Dublin have had an obvious target of moving their shots in closer to goal. Every Dublin player’s shot map will be much tighter in 2019 when compared to 2016. Except for Mannion. He is their designated “outside” shooter (if such a thing exists). And he is fulfilling that role to perfection. In the three games under review he is 81% (0 – 09 from 11) on point attempts and 0 – 05 from 6 on the wider, longer attempts. If Kerry do drop to protect the goal, they cannot allow Mannion to pick them off from long range.

What of Kerry’s Big3? They are even more central to Kerry’s game plan being responsible for 51% (49 of 97) of Kerry’s attempts from play. This despite Clifford missing the Meath game and O’Brien running into black card trouble. Combined they are running at a barely creditable 76% (3 – 34 from 49).

The fear from a Kerry perspective is just how reliant they are on these three. If Dublin shut them down the back up is O’Shea, the two Spillanes, Moran, Murphy, Tom O’Sullivan. All capable but not “shooters” of the quality to replace the output of the Big3. The rest of the panel have produced a Conversion Rate of 50%. Dublin’s Conversion Rate outside the Big3 is 61%.

Kickouts

It is impossible to preview a big game without considering primary possession. And thus kickouts. Kickouts account for 52.7% of all possessions. To win the game you must have the ball. To have enough ball you must get your hands on kickouts.

There has been quite a bit of commentary on Dublin’s high press and the pressure it applies to the opposition’s goalkeepers. And it absolutely does. But in terms of kickouts retained the raw numbers have Dublin winning 31% of the opposition’s kickouts and 43% of those that travelled past the 45. Kerry have also won 43% of the opposition’s kickouts that travelled past the 45. So, whilst the Dublin press is exceptional it hasn’t produced the volume of raw possessions, in direct comparison to Kerry’s returns, that might be expected.

Dublin do have a distinct advantage in one area; short kickouts. Dublin have not lost possession off a Cluxton short one this year. In big games since 2017 (QF onwards) Cluxton has coughed up just 3 out of 162 short kickouts. Yes, teams drop off. And yes, Dublin possess a wonderful group of ball handlers at the back. But Dublin also have Cluxton. He always has been, and continues to be, the master of the quick restart. And, crucially, he doesn’t overcommit. There are no absolutes, but the numbers suggest he has learned not to press the short one.

Contrast that with Ryan. He is still on a steep learning curve in his maiden campaign. Kerry have gone short 60% of the time but have lost possession seven times. That includes three in one vs Donegal. Dublin have gotten their hands on three of the opposition’s short ones scoring off each (1 – 02). Ryan will come under immense pressure on Sunday. The default, when the pressure comes, must be long.

2019 All Ireland Preview

August 28, 2019

As in previous years we will do a preview of this year’s All Ireland final by reviewing previous games within the year.

The methodology is roughly the same. We have four competitive games for Kerry under Peter Keane – the three Super8 games against Mayo, Donegal and Meath plus the semi-final against Tyrone. We have a lot more for this Dublin team but so as to ensure like for like comparisons I have used Dublin’s semi-final against Mayo, the two competitive Super8 games against Cork and Roscommon (no sniggering down the back) and I have replaced the run out for the reserves up in Omagh with their Leinster semi-final v Kildare (see NOTE1).

When team or player numbers are referenced, they will relate to these eight games unless specifically stated otherwise.

The commentary has a “this is what Dublin do – how do Kerry measure up/defeat them” slant to it. This is the nature of the beast when you are going for 5 in a row.

Possession – the unseen edge

I reference “the unseen edge” above because in the previous four Championship campaigns every three possessions you gather is worth 0 – 01 on the scoreboard (teams scored 0.37 points per possession (ppp)).

In their four games under scrutiny Dublin managed to get their hands on the ball 27 times more often than their direct opponents. The differences ranged from 3 more possessions against Cork (in a game with 81 total possessions) to 11 more against Roscommon (in a game with 91 possessions). If they maintain this in the final it is akin to starting 0 – 02 up.

The makeup of their possessions is interesting. Given their dominant nature (NOTE2) in these games Dublin have had 20 less possessions directly from their own kickout despite having a much higher retention rate; Dublin have retained 81.5% of all their kickouts whilst the opposition retained 70.5%.

How have they made up the deficit then if they are starting from -20 on their own kickout? One area is the aforementioned retention rates on kickouts – Dublin have gotten their hands on 36 opposition kickouts whilst only giving up 15 of their own. Thus, on kickouts in their entirety Dublin are one possession up. We’ll go onto the details later but here is where the mere fact of counting can set you wrong. Yes, their opponents have essentially broken even on kickouts against them – which is surprising given Dublin’s perceived dominance. But it is the type and ratio of kickout that is won/lost that is of vital importance.

The remainder of Dublin’s possession edge is gained on turnovers (+22) and Other (NOTE3) (+4). Dublin’s turnover differential is nearly all achieved inside their own 45. On turnovers outside their own 45, which would be deemed as the most dangerous as the opposition is caught in an attacking mindset, they are only +2 (gained 20 turnovers outside their own 45 but gave up 18 such turnovers to the opposition).

It is somewhat surprising that they gave up the ball 18 times outside the opposition’s 45. Digging a bit deeper Mayo did the damage getting their hands on such ball ten times. The other eight were split evenly (Kildare x3, Cork x3 & Roscommon x2); so, it appears to be just small sample size noise.

What of Kerry?

Unlike Dublin their games have been closer which means that they have, proportionally, taken more of the kickouts (45% in total; Dublin have taken 40%). On the surface this should help Kerry in the possession battle. But Kerry have not been as clinical in their execution either on their own kickout (Retention Rate of 77%) or the oppositions (opposing teams have retained 80%). This in turn means that whilst Dublin came out with a possession total of +1 from all kickouts Kerry come out with a -20.

The good news is that they were aligned with Dublin in pure turnover terms (+19; 89 turnovers won in the four games v 70 conceded) however were slightly ahead of Dublin in where those turnovers were won. 28 were won outside their own 45 with 19 such turnovers conceded.

Revisiting that small sample size noise from the Dublin numbers. What if Mayo’s press identified a small chink? Mayo claimed ten (five of which occurred in the first half when the game was there to be won) turnovers outside their own 45. Kerry, with the oft quoted Donie Buckley link, are not only good here but have obviously worked on what they do when they win such ball. Of the 28 turnovers up the pitch they have produced 21 shots and scored 2 – 13. Of the 21 shots 14 had six or less player touches … they look to strike hard and fast off the turnover.

But for all their good work on turnovers that kickout number of -20 is very concerning. Especially when you consider that they will be up against (a) the best kickout press in the game and (b) the team with historically the best kickout in the game. More of that anon.

When Dublin have the ball

Once Dublin get their hands on the ball what do they do with it? The simple answer is they score. The 10-84 they amassed in the four games equates to 0.58ppp. As stated previously the average for games from 2015 – 2018 was 0.37ppp (NOTE4). And the scary thing is that they are actually getting better.

Last year’s preview touched on a lot of the themes as to how Dublin had increased their Conversion Rate. It is worth re-reading now as a lot of the principles still hold through.

Goals

Dublin are the goal Kings. From 2015 – 2018 inclusive (non-Dublin) teams went for goal every 17.8 possessions. As the above table shows Dublin have, apart from the blip in 2016, gone for goal at a much more frequent clip. But they have been relatively consistent on this going for goal every c11.5 possessions. In 2019 they have obliterated this mark going for goal once every c8.2 possessions. That is a huge change in emphasis.

It is worth noting that they have not been more efficient when going for goals (NOTE5). But they don’t need to be. They are coming away with 1.50 points per goal attempt which is better than can be achieved than going for points. Con O’Callaghan has been the catalyst here with six shots himself but also being directly involved (NOTE6) in the build up to another seven attempts (3x primary assists & 4x secondary assists).

You want to stop Dublin going for goals – nail down O’Callaghan. That’s not to say he’s the only threat. The two midfielders (Fenton & MacAuley) have combined for another six attempts getting a score from each attempt (4 – 02). Only Mannion, of the main strikers, has not been productive scoring 0 – 01 from his three attempts.

To increase your points per possessions you don’t necessarily need to get better at any one thing – if you tweak the ratios to go for the more productive shot more often then you’ll increase your returns.

Point attempts from play

That tweaking of shot types, to eke out more efficiency, leads us to Dublin’s point taking. The below shot chart is taken from 2016 and contains Dublin’s point attempts for the four games from the QF onwards

Every team will have a different shooting zone (as an example I used a completely different zone when previewing last year’s final). For illustrative purposes I use the red dotted line to denote “inside” and “outside”. I’m sure internally Dublin’s is different, but we can work with this. In 2016
• Dublin had an overall Conversion Rate of 45%
• 21% of all their point attempts came from “inside”
• They produced a 76% Conversion Rate “inside” and 37% “outside”

Now let us look at the same chart for 2019

Even visually you can see the change – the “inside” is so much more populated. There are no shots inside the 20m line from out wide. But to put some comparative meat on the bone
• Dublin now have a 62% Conversion Rate
• 46% of all their point attempts were from “inside”
• They have recorded a 74% Conversion Rate “inside” and 52% “outside”

Want to improve your points per possession? Go for goals, which are more productive per shot, more often whilst maintaining the Conversion Rate. Move more point attempts “inside”, again maintaining the consistency whilst also improving your “outside” shooting.

Kerry have their big three in Geaney, Clifford & O’Brien. For Dublin this year it has been Mannion, O’Callaghan & Kilkenny. Between them they have taken 49% of their point attempts with a whopping combined Conversion Rate of 71% (0 – 30 from 42; Expt Pts of +10.15). That is amazing consistency.

Con O’Callaghan again shows up well on the point taking tables with a 70% Conversion Rate (0 – 07 from 10; Expt Pts +1.82) and 11 primary assists. Combined with his involvement with the goals and he has become a central cog in what Dublin do.

But Paul Mannion has topped him in terms of accuracy with a Conversion Rate of 76% off a whopping 21 point attempts. That despite him being Dublin’s ostensible outside shooter.

Elsewhere Niall Scully has been the assist machine being directly involved in the build up to 25 point attempts and six goal attempts

Deadballs

And just to top it all off introduce a red hot Dean Rock during the Super8s. He is 95% (0-20 from 21) on deadballs with his only miss being deep in injury time against Mayo out wide left just to kill the clock.

On Rock. In the lead up (QFs, Super8 & SFs) to the AI final in the last three years he has been imperious recording a 92% conversion rate (0 – 36 from 39) on frees with an Expt Pts tally of +4.81. He has dropped off in the finals however returning just a 73% Conversion Rate with an Expt Pt of -0.20.

He is the best free taker bar none. He has shown his metal in 2017 when slotting the winning point deep into injury time. But he is human and has shown it previously when we enter the finals.

What of the Kerry defence?

Have we seen anything from Kerry to show that they can disrupt this process?

In the four games under scrutiny they have only allowed eight shots at goal including two penalties. That is an excellently frugal one attempt every c23 opposition possessions. If Kerry can keep Dublin to their pre 2019 standards of 1 goal attempt per every 11.5 possessions that should see Dublin at 4 shots at goal (assuming a c90 possession game). Meet somewhere in the middle of the 8.2 attempts from Dublin and 23.2 allowed by Kerry and you are at three attempts. Using Dublin’s conversation rates 3 attempts comes in at 1 – 01; four attempts and you are at 2 – 00. Any more than that and Kerry are staring down the barrel of a defeat.

Dublin have attempted 23 point attempts from frees or one every 8.6 possessions. Kerry have allowed the opposition to take 24 shots, or one every 7.7 possessions, at goal from frees. These 24 included three from outside the 45 (2x M Murphy, 1x C O’Connor). Whilst Rock is capable of slotting these over he knows his range and generally doesn’t take them from out there. Removing these three longer ones reduces the rate to one every 8.8.

All other things being equal you want to avoid giving Dublin, and Rock these easy points. Foley, Murphy & Crowley will need to be cognoscente of their tackling as they have given away four shots at goal, from fouling, apiece. On top of that O’Callaghan is the most fouled player for Dublin (he’s won 6 shots at goal from frees – the next best is 2).

Stop Dublin going for goal. Especially O’Callaghan. But don’t foul him. No problem!

That leaves us with Kerry defending point attempts. At a macro level this has been very poor this year. Opponents have converted 66% (0 – 45 from 68) of all point attempts from play scoring in excess of 0 – 11 more than what those 68 shots would be expected to record.

However, when we look at the shot graph for these 68 point attempts what is striking is just how good teams have been from “outside”. Between them Kerry’s four opponents have combined for a whopping 62% (0 – 24 from 39) Conversion Rate “outside” which, for context, is miles ahead of Dublin’s 52%. And I can find no good reason for it other than Kerry have been on the wrong end of some excellent shooting. Will this continue in the final? Anything is possible in a one-off game against Dublin. But what it does indicate is that the Kerry defence has not been as poor – or porous – as the final scoreboard(s) indicate.

You can begin to see the bones of an argument as to why Kerry’s defence can hold Dublin. Restrict Dublin to four goal attempts (Dublin have averaged six, Kerry have given up two) with them scoring 2 – 00. A point attempt from a free every 8/9 possessions should yield Dublin 0 – 04 to 0 – 05. Give them the “inside”/”outside” ratio that they have enjoyed to date but restrict them to 19 shots (Dublin have averaged 21.5; Kerry have allowed a lower). That equates to 0 – 11 from play. You are now at 2 – 15 … possibly 1 – 16. And assuming your attack shows up you are in the game for 80 minutes.

When Kerry have the ball

So what of Kerry? Whilst not as stellar as Dublin their attacking returns have been very positive

If we assume 50 possessions each then just using the baseline metrics above Dublin come away with 24.4 scores (50*83%*84%*70%) whilst Kerry come away with 21.9 (50*83%*80%*66%). Using the points per possession its Dublin 29 points and Kerry 25 points. That’s not to say that this is how the game will end (that calculation is as rough as a badger’s a*se) but it does show that the Kerry forward line are not a million miles behind perhaps the most accurate front line of all time.

Their goal attempts – perhaps surprising given an inside line that consists of Geaney and Clifford with O’Brien on the burst from the half forward line – has been an issue, however. Not so much the execution but the volume. They have only managed nine attempts at goal over the four games which contrasts starkly with Dublin’s 24. Again, their Conversion Rate is very good (56% Conversion Rate and 1.89 points per attempt) but the volume just isn’t there. Playing it safe when in front of goal? You feel this is something that Kerry will have to up in the final. Either they have to take the two chances they get, or they have to go for goal more often and come away with 2 – 00 from four attempts rather than 1 – 01 from two goal attempts and two point attempts.

Whilst not quite in the Dean Rock mould Séan O’Shea has been very good on deadballs returning 83% (0 – 20 from 24) and scoring about 1.5points above what would be expected from his attempts. Very solid. Just like Rock he will have to prove he can do it in the white heat of an All-Ireland final.

Kerry’s point taking has been a smidgen off Dublin’s with a combined 59% (0 – 52 from 88). That is still excellent returning about 8.5 points above what was expected. But that could be even better if they were more careful on their “inside” shooting.

They’re “outside” shooting at 56% (0 – 29 from 52) is better than Dublin’s – which, as we have noted, has taken a huge leap from where they were at in 2016. It is their “inside” shooting at 59% (0 – 23 from 39) that is hurting them. It is almost as if the mind wanders when they get inside thinking the job is down. They have the outside shooting to compete with Dublin – they need to pop those easier points or alternatively turn some of those closer in shots to less secure goal attempts.

Kerry’s big three (Geaney, Clifford & Stephen O’Brien) returns are eerily similar to Dublin’s big3 attempting 49% of all of their point attempts for a combined Conversion Rate of 70% (0 – 30 from 43; Expt Pts +9.01).

Like Mannion O’Brien has been on fire with a 90% Conversion Rate (0 – 09 from 10 Expt Pts of +3.62) whilst he has been very high up on the assist chart with 16 primary assists (1x goal attempt, 9x point attempt and 6 frees won).

Dublin’s defence

Dublin have only allowed nine goal attempts in the four games tightening as they’ve gone along (3 v Kildare and Cork, 2 v Roscommon and 1 v Mayo). Stephen Cluxton has again shown just how good he is by producing five saves from those nine shots with the only ones getting past him being an outrageous piece of skill from Lee Keegan and a penalty from Luke Connolly.

Dublin have only coughed up 13 shots from frees (John Small x3, MD MacAuley, B Fenton, C O’Sullivan with two apiece) in the four games which equates to one every 13.1 possessions.

On point attempts they have allowed more or less what is expected; 20 per game with a 51% Conversion Rate allowing an Expt Pts of +0.94

All very simple and concise compared to the in-depth detail above. But only because Dublin, like on offence, do the basics very, very well. Don’t offer up the goal attempts. When tackling do so properly – or at least if you need to foul don’t do so inside the scoring zone. Only give up what is expected from point attempts.

For Kerry’s attack let us assume things stay as they are. The Dublin defence do their thing whilst the Kerry offence does theirs. Kerry will get two goal attempts (Dublin have allowed nine in four games; Kerry have attempted nine) resulting in 1 – 00. Kerry win five shots at goal from frees (somewhere between the one every 7.5 possessions that they earned, and the one every 13 possessions Dublin have allowed) scoring 0 – 04. Kerry take 21 shots from play (Kerry have average 22 point attempts whilst Dublin have allowed 20) with a Conversion Rate somewhere in the mid 50s which comes in at 0 – 11/0 – 12.

All things being equal Kerry score 1 – 15/1 – 16. Their defence stands up as previously outlined allowing 2 – 15/1 – 16. Just saying ….

Kickouts

Attempting to show how Kerry can stay in, and even win, the game is conditional on a lot of things, plausibly, going their way. Contain Dublin to four attempts at goal. Foul at a “normal” rate. Allow point attempts at a slower rate than Dublin have taken to date. Up either the goal attempt volumes or the accuracy. Outside shooting efficiency against them to regress to the mean. Maintain their high attacking efficiency.

But that is all superseded by one larger condition that also needs to break Kerry’s way. We touched on it earlier when looking at the possession volumes – Kerry absolutely need to break even in terms of possession volumes on kickouts. [A gentle reminder that they were -20 on kickout possessions compared to Dublin’s +1. Despite having more kickouts in games than Dublin]

Dublin kickouts

The kickout details for both teams are in the Appendix. Unsurprisingly Dublin have not lost a short one. I say unsurprisingly as in the eight games that comprised the QFs onwards in 2017 and 2018 Dublin lost just three short kickouts – a combined retention rate of 97.5% (retained 118 of 121).

If they get their hands on one of your short ones lookout – they got one each against Cork, Roscommon and Mayo scoring off all three. Those three equated to 7% (3 of 46) of all short kickouts faced. This success rate is a step up on previous. In the aforementioned eight games in 2017 & 2018 they got their hands on 5% of the opposition’s short ones (6 out of 103) but only came away with 0 – 02.

In the four games there have been 116 kickouts past the 45 with Dublin gaining possession 50% of the time. That may seem poor enough, but they were 63% on their own kickout and 43% on the opposition’s. Dublin may have a fearsome press, but the opposition have been getting their hands on the ball

Kerry kickouts

Intriguingly enough Kerry have also won 50% (40 of 80) of kickouts that went past the 45. They had similar splits to Dublin in that they won 58% of their own kickouts and 43% of the opposition’s.

The problem, and the fear, is that they have lost seven short ones in the four games played. Seven. Compared to Dublin’s zero. And not in any one game where they had a systems malfunction either. They have lost at least one short kickout in every game. Indeed, they lost two vs Tyrone and three vs Donegal.

As stated at the very start I was worried for Kerry winning primary possession on kickouts. I still am but if they can force the majority to go past the 45, they can break even. But if they continue to press the shorter ones (60% of their kickouts have been short) then they have a propensity to cough up the ball which will be calamitous against this Dublin team.

Prediction

I have faith in the Kerry brains trust. Although under different management they came with a plan against both the Dublin kickout in 2016 and the Donegal kickout in 2014. I believe they will lose the possession battle here by two or three, as Dublin get a few short ones off quickly, but they will avoid any obvious calamitous errors.

They will break even in terms of turnovers. The game will be a relatively open 92 possession game (Dublin games averaged 91.75 possessions; Kerry’s 93.5) with Dublin winning that battle 47 – 45. Then the fun starts. On current point per possession trajectories that has Dublin at 27 points (47 possessions x 0.58). I don’t see that – as outlined I can see the Kerry defence being stouter than anticipated. If it “drops” (drops is a relative term here!) to the 2018 level of 0.52ppp that brings them into the 2 – 18/2 – 19 realm. To get down to the projected score I have for Kerry of 1 – 16 then Dublin’s ppp needs to drop to 0.40. Which I just can’t see.

Kerry to be closer than people think but Dublin to win 2 – 17 to 1 – 16

NOTE1 By right I should have used the Leinster final v Meath as a more “competitive” game however Meath’s shooting was so poor that it would affect the overall averages. Plus Kildare went in at half time only four down, so it was competitive enough to spark the familiar second half surge from Dublin.
NOTE2 Dublin’s opponents tend to have more kickouts due to the sheer volume of shots Dublin take. You retain your own kickout at a much higher rate therefore if the opposition has a lot more kickouts they should have a higher volume of possessions from same
NOTE3 Other is defined as Throw Ins at the start of halves or shots blocked, off the post etc. regained by the attacking team
NOTE4 Remove Dublin’s returns from the equation and that drops to 0.36ppp
NOTE5 Dublin can have a higher points per attempt in 2019 compared to 2018 with a lower Conversion Rate as points scored off goal attempts are not included in the Conversion Rates but are in the points per calculation
NOTE6 Assists here are still defined by being on the ball – actual passes. Runs off the ball are probably as important – especially for goal attempts – but we’re not quite there yet.

APPENDIX
Dublin kickout data

Kerry kickout data

Dublin v Meath 1991 Leinster Game4

June 19, 2019

Overview

For the second game in this series (Kerry v Dublin 1985 final here) the team that came out on top of the volume metrics (Possessions, Attacks, Shots) was beaten. Again, similar to 1985, the team with the better Conversion Rate came out of top but unlike that game here the impact of goals, both those scored and those missed, were of greater importance.

A big focus of the 1985 final review was the very high volume of possessions at 145. Here, just six years later, the volume has dropped to 114. At first glance it would appear that the intervening rule change of allowing frees to be taken from the hand has helped teams retain possession. Whilst this is probably true it is slightly deceiving in the context of this game as there was a large gulf in half splits here with 49 possessions in the first half and 65 in the second. That 65 is more in line with the 1985 final than modern trends but the first half was low predominantly due to the vast volume of shots from frees early doors (10 shots in the first 21 minutes of which 9 were deadballs!) as opposed to either’s teams increased focus on retention of possession. Indeed much like 1985 32% of all possessions had only one player control the ball.

When Meath had the ball

Goals, goals, goals. They win games. Meath had three shots at goal scoring 2 – 00 including one of the most famous goals of all time. The most interesting aspect of Kevin Foley’s goal – from a numbers perspective – is that it is the first time we have seen a team hold onto the ball. 114 team possessions in the game and there was only one with a sequence of more than six passes – the goal. There were 12 different player possessions in that move. In the aforementioned 1985 final there were 145 possessions with none containing more than seven player touches.

At a macro level Meath’s Attack Rate of 43% is very poor however it is a consequence of the type of game that was in vogue at the time. The primary concern was to clear your lines rather than retain possession. The Shot Rate of 87% was excellent however. Meath struggled to get the ball into Dublin’s 45 but once they did they were extremely effective at getting a shot off.

Outside of the goal attempts their shooting was a touch below average; Stafford took all deadballs scoring 0 – 06 from 8 (7x frees + 1x 45) for a 75% Conversion Rate and Expt Pts of -0.17 whilst they were a combined 0 – 04 from 9 (44%, Expt Pts of -0.54) on points from play.

Whilst he didn’t trouble the scoreboard during this game – only the one long range effort in the first half that drifted wide – Colm O’Rourke was highly influential throughout the game. He was the primary assist for 0 – 04 (won three frees that Stafford converted as well providing the pass for McCabe’s point in the 59th minute) as well as being central to both goals – providing the final ball across the box for Stafford’s goal as well as, miraculously given the state of the game, finding a pocket of space to receive the ball and flick it on to Tommy Dowd in the final throes of the Kevin Foley goal.

When Dublin had the ball

Dublin’s 1985 loss could, quite easily, be laid at their poor shooting (36%, Expt Pt -3.73). Superficially that is not the case here with a 56% Conversion Rate from play and 50% overall however their shot chart tells a different story.

The expected return, for the shots they attempted, was bang on average (0 – 10 from 18 for a Conversion Rate of 56% and Expt Pts 0f -0.03) when compared to modern returns. This despite missing five shots from within ~25metres. Their issues came from deadballs.

Combined Charlie Redmond and D Sheehan had 10 attempts from frees converting 0 – 05. In and of itself a Conversion Rate of 50% is below average however when we overlay the current “inside”/”outside” range on to their frees it becomes obvious that they converted all the ones they should have (0 – 03 from 3 “inside”) but didn’t score enough of the “outside” attempts. Add Jack Sheedy’s desperation attempt at the end and their “outside” free taking returned 25% (0 – 02 from 8).

Unfortunately for Dublin their deadball woes did not end there. They were three points ahead when Keith Barr dragged his penalty wide in the 61st minute. Missing a penalty happens (probably a much more regular occurrence then as the penalty was taken from the 13m line thus making it a lot harder) but what is most remarkable about this one is just how close Mick Lyons was allowed to be when Barr is striking the ball.

I’m not sure Mick Lyons would ever be described as subtle … but that’s not even trying!

Kickouts

Returns were even with Dublin winning 21 kickouts to Meath’s 20. Dublin went short five times and were relatively successful with them manufacturing three shots and scoring 0 – 02. Meath didn’t go short but that didn’t hinder them as they won the possession battle 20 – 16 on kickouts that travelled past the 45.

The “old” kickouts rules were still in place however we began to see some changes when compared to 1985. Dublin were trying a more directional kick out to the sidelines than either team did in 1985; especially on those from the small square (noted in black on the below chart)