Donegal V Down preview

Thanks to the BBC giving us coverage of the whole Ulster Championship we have all of Donegal & Down’s games to date charted. As such we will have a look to see if we can derive any strategic tendencies. As ever this comes with a health warning – we only have 5 games (3 from Donegal, 2 from Down).

WHEN DONEGAL HAVE THE BALL

Team Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Return Vs Expected
Donegal (game avg) 34.67 25 72% 14.67 59% +1.71
Down’s opponents (game avg) 33 25 76% 11.5 46% -1.59
avg 38.5 27.6 71.7% 13.9 50.4% 0.00

Donegal’s volume of possessions appears quite small however there has been some disparity based on the opponent (29 vs Tyrone, 36 vs Derry & 39 vs Cavan). This disparity is indicative of the progression in their game plan evident throughout 2012 – they can still play the blanket defence but are also able to open up when conditions suit. What’s been strikingly evident so far this year is Donegal’s excellent shooting – their accuracy (both success rate & Expected Return) has been consistently above average.

Down have allowed only 33 possessions in both their games so far however they have allowed an above average shot rate. Whatever game plan Donegal goes with Down will offer up shots – and if Donegal maintain their excellent shooting then these shots will be converted at a higher rate than average.

From play

Team Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
Donegal (game avg) 18.33 9.33 51% +0.91
Down’s opponents (game avg) 17.5 5.5 31% -1.49
avg 20.5 9.2 44.9% 0.00

From deadballs

Player (totals) Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
C McFadden 13 10 77% +1.33
M Murphy 7 6 86% +1.07
Down’s opponents 15 12 75% +1.30
avgs 66.2% 0.00

Donegal are a lot more accurate in their shooting from play than Down’s opponents have been to date. Down have ridden their luck a litle – given Donegal’s shooting prowess they cannot rely on this continuing.

Donegal’s shooting from play has been accurate but its their deadball striking that stands out. Murphy & McFadden have hit 16 from 16 in frees (they’ve missed a sideline & 3 45s).

The reason for Donegal’s success rate, and the higher than average return, may lie somewhere in the below table. This table outlines where abouts on the pitch the team’s shots have emanated from (for a refresher on the breakdown on the sectors see https://dontfoul.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/scoring-by-pitch-segment/)

Sector 1 – 3 4 & 6 5 7 & 9 8
Donegal 3% 40% 28% 8% 21%
Down’s opponents 6% 30% 36% 16% 12%

Donegal seem to have a ‘T’ shaped shooting zone from in front of the goal and across the pitch between the 21m & 45m lines (89% of their shots are in this zone). To have a 59% success rate whilst 40% of your shots are from sectors 4 & 6 is quite impressive.

Down have been good at ensuring that the area immediately in front of their goal (sector 8) is blocked up however this won’t suffice against Donegal. Donegal didn’t have one shot on goal against Tyrone – they are happy to shoot from out the field. Somehow Down will have to push out on Donegal when they’re ready to shoot, wherever that may be, and thus relinquish some of the stranglehold they have immediately in front of goal.

Players with >= 4 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
P McBrearty 9 3 33% -1.19
R Kavanagh 6 5 83% +2.25
C McFadden 6 3 50% -0.09
David Walsh 5 2 40% -0.18
M McHugh 4 3 75% +1.55
F McGlynn 4 2 50% +0.06
N Gallagher 4 2 50% -0.04
A Thompson 4 1 25% -0.79

WHEN DOWN HAVE THE BALL

Team Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Return Vs Expected
Down (game avg) 32 26 81% 13.5 52% -0.09
Donegal’s opponents (game avg) 35.67 24.33 68% 10 41% -2.21
avg 38.5 27.6 71.7% 13.9 50.4% 0.00

Down’s shooting has been average but what they have been very good at is turning the possession they get into shots. Down were a perfect 11 from 11 in their last 11 shots against Monaghan and it is this level of excellence that the team will focus on however without that magnificent finish their shooting returns would be very poor.

Unsurprisingly Donegal allow a below average shot rate however the very poor Exected Return of their opponents cannot all be attributed to Donegal’s tenacious defending. As noted in the Tyrone game they allowed 4 shots on goal which on another day could have resulted in scores whilst the opponent’s deadball striking has been atrocious (something the Donegal defence can’t take credit for).

From play

Team Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
Down (game avg) 19 8.5 45% -0.20
Donegal’s opponents (game avg) 17.67 6.67 38% -0.84
avg 20.5 9.2 44.9% 0.00

From deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
A Carr 6 3 50% -1.76
D O’Hare 5 5 100% +1.32
A Rogers 1 1 100% +0.60
L Doyle 1 1 100% +0.49
K Duffin 1 0 0% -0.51
Donegal’s opponents 20 10 20% -4.09
team avgs 66.2% 0.00

There is no real distinction between Down’s shooting from play and their deadball shooting – both are average. As noted earlier the very negative Expected Returns from Donegal’s opponents can not all be attributed to Donegal’s defence however as the below shows Down will have to be selective in what shots they do take on

Sector 1 – 3 4 & 6 5 7 & 9 8
Down 4% 27% 27% 19% 23%
Donegal’s opponents 6% 30% 23% 33% 8%

50% of Down’s shots come from the sectors (5 & 8) immediately in front of goal. Donegal only allow 31% of shots against them from these sectors. Despite the high level of shots taken in front of goal Down’s returns are average. If Donegal force Down to take shots from the wings then given Down’s poor shooting (excluding that phenomenal 20 minutes against Monaghan) you would have to favour the Donegal men. We know Down get a high percentage of possessions off as shots – but can they get those shots off in the right areas?

Players with >= 4 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
C Laverty 5 3 60% +0.64
D Hughes 4 0 0% -1.50
D O’Hare 4 2 50% +0.18
D O’Hagan 4 2 50% -0.06
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