The Importance of the Gooch

When Colm Cooper went down in a heap in the All Ireland club semi final not only did the Dr. Crokes fans hold their breath but so did the majority of the GAA community.

Cooper has been a consistently excellent player for Kerry with his first half virtuoso performance in the 2013 semi final against Dublin a master class in peripheral vision and a player imposing himself on a game.

Given the importance of Cooper to Kerry trying to ascertain his worth through stats alone will inevitably undersell his impact however Kerry will have to replace his shooting; so exactly what will they have to replace?

There are twelve games spread across three years for Kerry in the database and Cooper played in all of them. The table below shows the shooting statistics for Cooper across those games lined up against the rest of the Kerry team.

Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
Cooper 80 60 75% +9.313
Rest of Kerry 249 122 49% +0.989

We’ve always known how good Cooper has been but that is one hell of a hole that Fitzmaurice is going to have to plug. Cooper has taken 24% of Kerry’s shots in those twelve games and accounted for 33% of all their scores. He has been consistent throughout the 3 years as well.

From play

Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
Cooper 37 24 65% +5.856
Rest of Kerry 199 91 46% +0.269

Again Cooper has been excellent and again he has consistently outperformed the rest of the Kerry team. The volume of shots has dropped as a whole (16% of all shots) but the quality – with a combined weighting of +5.856 (65% Conversion Rate) – is stellar.

Cooper’s numbers on their own are fantastic but they do not take into account who he has taken the shots against. In the twelve games he has faced Cork four times and the subsequent All Ireland winners in another two (Donegal in the ’12 QF & Dublin in the ’13 semi). Those numbers are not padded by easy games.

Fitzmaurice *may* be able to find a player (or players) to pick up the slack for the volume of shots that Cooper has taken but it does not appear that his quality of shots can be maintained. Of the 199 shots the rest of the Kerry players have attempted they have converted 46% (weighting +0.269). Essentially bang on average.

From Deadballs

Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
Cooper 43 36 84% +3.457
Rest of Kerry 50 31 62% +0.720

Once again Cooper’s figures hold up. He has taken 43 free kicks in the twelve games converting 84%. The average is 67%. Now the combined weighting of these frees at +3.457, whilst good, show that the frees were more often than not on the easier side but the important point is that he still converted them. An average free taker would have missed three or four that Cooper converted.

The rest of the Kerry team converted 62% of the 50 deadballs (a mixture of frees & 45s) they took. These shots were definitely harder than Cooper’s – a positive weighting with a below average Success Rate shows this – however again the weighting shows that they were no more than average.

No one man is a team but some are much harder to replace than others. From frees Cooper gave Kerry a deadly accurate and consistent free taker from inside. From play his shooting was other worldly. On the flip side the rest of Kerry’s shooting was average. If Fitzmaurice has a brilliant shooter to replace Cooper’s accuracy you have to believe we would have seen him by now. If Cooper’s shots are spread across the rest of the team (and his replacement) the evidence shows that the returns will revert to the mean and Kerry will suffer.

No one man is a team. There is however only one Gooch.



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