Cork Vs Kerry

A slight change in format for this game. Uniquely I have three Cork-Kerry games charted (both Munster SFC games in 2010 & Sunday’s game) so we can make direct comparisons with how the teams performed then and now. Firstly we’ll focus on Kerry and whether they are in such a state of decline that Joe Brolly felt comfortable enough to liken them to Fermanagh.

Game Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Return Vs Expected
2010 32 24 75% 15 63% +2.98
2010 Replay 35 21 60% 11 52% +0.35
2012 33 27 82% 12 44% -2.06

There are a few things that immediately jump out. Firstly the number of possessions that Kerry had are very, very similar across the three matches. Have Kerry changed *that* much? Or is it that the outcome of the most recent game changes our perception of how games are played? If Kerry have suddenly slowed down the speed at which they deliver the ball into the forwards then you would expect a bigger volume of possessions in the two 2010 games. It isn’t there. And what of the fact that they were able to get more shots off on Sunday than in both games in 2010? Does that not point to a management team who knew what worked in 2010 (they were inseparable from that year’s champions over 140 minutes) but refined what they were doing to get more shots off? The bare numbers do not support the ‘terminal decline’ arguement.

What let Kerry down wasn’t their style of play, for this produced more shots from a very similar level of possession this time around, but rather their execution. Their success rate was way down on what they achieved in both 2010 games and it wasn’t because they were taking harder shots. An expected return of -2.06 from Sunday shows that they simply should have converted more of the chances they had.

From play

Game Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
2010 16 7 44% +0.19
2010 Replay 11 5 45% -0.03
2012 20 9 45% -0.24

From deadballs

Game Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
2010 8 8 100% +2.79
2010 Replay 9 6 67% +0.38
2012 7 3 43% -1.82

Again Kerry’s returns from play were very similar; again they got more points from play on Sunday because they had more possessions. As an aside those shooting returns are basically a sea of mediocrity – with the forwards that Kerry possess you would expect their class to rise at some stage. Without any empirical evidence I’m willing to give the Cork defenders a lot of credit for ‘caging’ that Kerry attack.

What let Kerry down badly on Sunday was their deadballs. Could it be that the huge malaise at the heart of the Kerry team could be as simple as missing Bryan Sheehan? Kealy missed two central 45s whilst Galvin also had a bad miss … you would have to expect Sheehan to get 2 of those 3. If he did that would make it 0-15 to 0-14 with 5 minutes to go. Would this Kerry team’s obituaries be so quickly written??

There is another side to this story which is how Cork performed – they can be extremely happy with their first outing.

Game Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Return Vs Expected
2010 38 30 79% 15 50% +0.63
2010 Replay 38 31 82% 13 42% -3.05
2012 37 31 84% 17 55% +1.55

Again the possession & shot rates are very similar to 2010 (remarkably so – you’d think these two teams know each other inside out or something). Again the slow, old Kerry that was being criticised on the match commentary didn’t let Cork have any extra ball inside their 45m line – they didn’t let Cork have any extra shots. What did happen was that the Cork forwards stepped up a gear from the previous encounters

From play

Game Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
2010 25 11 44% -0.11
2010 Replay 20 8 40% -1.14
2012 22 12 55% +2.37

From deadballs

Game Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
2010 5 4 80% +0.74
2010 Replay 11 5 45% -1.91
2012 9 5 56% -0.82

Cork had a lot more possessions and shots than Kerry in all three games. The difference was that on Sunday the Cork forwards converted a greater percentage of the shots. The success rate for shots from play for the 4 games in 2010 was 44%, 45%, 44% & 40% – little or no difference. This time around Kerry maintained their end of the bargain – 45% – but Cork upped their performance to 55%. Is this due to an old, tired Kerry falling off challenges and letting Cork have easier shots? Of the 22 shots from play that Cork had I charted 68% (15 shots) of these coming from players under pressure; in 2010 the equivalent numbers were 60% and 50%. I am much more inclined to put Cork’s improved shooting performance down to the Cork forwards than to anything Kerry did or didn’t do.

The three games are more or less the same with two vital differences leading to Sunday’s result; Kerry’s deadball accuracy went awry and the Cork forwards’ shooting from play stepped up a notch. I fear that the Kerry obituaries currently being written are forced and we’re missing the truth staring straight at us – the Cork machine is ticking along nicely.

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2 Responses to “Cork Vs Kerry”

  1. Daragh Ó Conchúir Says:

    This is very good. Amazing how a fee missed 45s and a couple of gr8 saves by the opposition keeper suddenly mean Kerry are gone.

  2. Kerry V Cork Preview 2015 Munster Championship | dontfoul Says:

    […] transcripts of the three games can be found at 2012, 2013, […]

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