Donegal V Down 2013

For those new to the blog, or who haven’t been here for a while, please find a refresher on the definitions and how the numbers are compiled here


Team Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Weighting
Donegal 34 18 53% 12 67% +3.1895
Down 34 21 62% 9 43% -1.534
2012 avg 35.28 27.02 76.6% 13.96 51.67%

Down had their chances. They had as many possessions as Donegal . They had more shots than Donegal. But in the end it was their execution, especially whilst shooting from play, which let them down. You can implement the perfect system but if you can’t get the ball over the bar you can’t win.

Given the nature of the commentary re the defensive tactics employed in the game the overall volumes of possessions don’t look too bad. This was due to both teams withdrawing into their 45m allowing the opposition to, relatively speaking, walk the ball up until the defense was ready to engage. Getting into the 45, and thus gaining a possession, wasn’t the difficult part. The difficult part was getting a shot off from the right area with the right shooter. Both teams’ low Shot Rates reflect this.

In the first 30 minutes both sides had four shots from play. Donegal’s four came from Murphy (x2), McBrearty & McFadden and yielded 3 points. Down’s four came from Quinn (x2), Mooney & Boyle with none of them registering. Donegal had the patience and discipline, having played this system for so long, to ensure that their best shooters took their shots.

Shots from Play

Team Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
Donegal 11 6 55% +1.2045
Down 14 3 21% -2.263
2012 team avgs 20.14 9.36 46.5%

Neither team mustered a shot at goal which is not entirely surprising given the formations.

Down’s shooting from play was quite poor – though Donegal deserve as much credit for this as Down deserve admonishment. All 14 Down shots were taken with Donegal pressure being applied to the kicker. So much so that three of the shots were blocked. In a physically absorbing game that is tremendous hustle and concentration from the Donegal defence. McFadden got a point late in the second half from a Down pass that went astray inside their own 45m. Nothing similar happened within Donegal’s ranks.

Donegal’s shooting was above average. The combined returns for both this and the Tyrone game now show a 61% Success Rate (14 scores from 23 shots). That is excellent but can it be maintained? Or once they meet more open teams will the extra shots mean they can absorb the inevitable regression to the mean?

If you wanted to find a chink in their offensive armour then you could possibly look at Murphy & McFadden taking 57% of all shots from play. Tony McEntee addressed this issue in Monday’s Examiner [here] though he focussed solely on McFadden. Stop just two forwards and you blunt Donegal. Easy – except two of the better managers, in Harte & McCartan, have known this and not been able to accomplish it.

The high reliance on Murphy & McFadden is not new but it has been exceedingly high thus far. Excluding frees Murphy & McFadden accounted for 25% of all of Donegal’s shots in their 7 Championship games in 2012. Even in tight games with low shot counts (Tyrone, Kerry & Mayo), akin to the two games they’ve play this year, the percentage *only* rises to 36%

The problem is that if you do sell out on the Big 2 the remainder of the team is highly accurate when called upon. See here for details within a pre season piece I did on Donegal. They just haven’t needed to be called upon to date. Pick your poison.

Shots from deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
M Murphy (Donegal) 4 4 100% +1.381
C McFadden (Donegal) 3 2 67% +0.604
D O’Hare (Down) 6 5 83% +0.574
D Savage (Down) 1 1 100% +0.155
2012 team avgs 6.88 4.6 66.9%

Genuinely excellent shooting all around. Murphy is the first player to get a weighting above 1.00 this year – and he smashed through it. Not only that but his returns would have been even better if when the referee brought a free forward 13m he let the original successful strike stand. He hit a monster of a shot from c50m and to the left of goals towards the end of the game which just epitomized his day from the ground.

The bare numbers do not do O’Hara’s day justice. His only miss was one against the wind that hit the post. Plus some of his frees with the right foot from the right hand side of the pitch were extremely difficult.

You always get the sense that no stone is left unturned with Donegal in this area. Given that O’Hare has a pronounced right footed action it is no coincidence that only one scoreable free was given on Down’s left (the strong side for O’Hare’s action). Against Tyrone despite a high deadball count (10) very few frees were given inside the 45m line. Although Morgan had an excellent League final up to that he had been patchy. Donegal were not afraid of the aberration, the League final, and ended up using a perceived strength of Tyrone’s to undermine them.

Shot Charts
You often hear commentator’s state that one way to beat the blanket defence is to kick over it. Down had 6 shots, fairly central, & from c38 – 48 metres out that would probably meet the definition required to successfully kick over a massed defence. They only converted one however. The problem with trying to kick over a massed defence is (a) they can still pressure the shooter as they have so many back (b) this pressure leads to an already more difficult shot becoming harder again and (c) it is not always your best shooter in this position.

I think this may be one of the keys to Donegal’s excellent shooting stats … they get the big three, especially McFadden, taking shots further out the pitch than would be expected of a normal full forward line.

Donegal’s shooting

Donegal shooting

Down’s shooting

Down shooting

x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, white = play

Donegal-Down kickouts

Donegal did not go short once against Tyrone however in this game did so four times. The main reason for this was that Down forced them to. Donegal’s first five kickouts went medium/long – a continuation of the pattern against Tyrone. Down however won three of those first five kickouts and forced Donegal into a rethink. Donegal then went short on four of the remaining six.

Something similar happened Down. Eight of their first ten kickouts went medium/long with Donegal winning five. Five of the next six went short.

Though the stats show that both teams secured a majority of their own kickouts this was only done by switching to shorter kickouts after the opposition had negated their original plan.

Players with >= 2 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
C McFadden (Donegal) 4 3 75% +1.504
M Murphy (Donegal) 3 1 33% -0.465
K Quinn (Down) 3 0 0% -1.195
R Kavanagh (Donegal) 2 1 50% +0.252
R Boyle (Down) 2 0 0% -0.578
K McKernan (Down) 2 0 0% -0.752

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