O’Donoghue & how Donegal handled opposition sharp shooters

After the drawn semi final between Kerry and Mayo we looked at where their respective marquee forwards, James O’Donoghue and Cillian O’Connor, managed to get on attacking ball and the outcomes of those interventions. O’Donoghue’s chart is reattached below

James O’Donoghue in drawn game
disk = successful, x = unsuccessful
white = pass, black = shot from play, red = dispossessed, blue = fouled (same for all subsequent charts)

In that piece we noted how O’Connor was on the ball a lot less because he played closer to goal. Below is O’Donoghue’s chart from the subsequent replay – he obviously played closer to goal but such is his form at the moment that his volume of touches hardly dropped.

James O’Donoghue in drawn game
ODonoghue in replay

In the original game O’Donoghue seemed to have a free roaming role with his touches effectively forming a horse shoe around what could be deemed the scoring zone. When he did step inside that zone he took a shot.

In the replay his touches were much closer to goal – 10 inside the 20m line as opposed to 5 in the drawn game. He maintained his volume of touches (24 in the original game, 22 in the replay) but the impact of those touches increased – his shot count increased from 6 to 9 whilst he also drove towards goal more effectively.

I have no doubt that the change in where on the pitch he received the ball was attributable to Kerry starting Kieran Donaghy at full forward. With Donaghy there Kerry needed a foil closer to him to ensure full value was gained from the organised chaos he can create.

But which O’Donoghue do Kerry need in the final? The shooter closer to goal, where O’Donoghue runs the risk of being ensnared in Donegal’s defensive net, or the playmaker further out the pitch who will be on the ball in more space? If O’Donoghue plays out the pitch does that negate some of the advantages of starting Donaghy?

In an attempt to understand what might suit best I tracked how Donegal handled the three marquee forwards they faced in their previous three games – namely Conor McManus, Jamie Clarke & Bernard Brogan. Their games are reviewed individually below but collectively what jumps off the charts are

• how few shots from play these players took – a combined six shots over 210 minutes
• just how infrequently they were on the ball – a combined 32 times

All three were effectively snuffed out as an attacking threat by Donegal.

Bernard Brogan
Brogan v Donegal

The three touches for Brogan inside the 20m line were all in the first 15 minutes when Dublin were on top – thereafter he had to come outside of the 20m line to get on the ball. Whilst he was very willing to do what was needed to influence the game, as evidenced by how much movement he did when he was on the ball, Donegal effectively shepherded him away from the scoring zone. His impact was minimal.

Jamie Clarke
Clarke V Donegal

Clarke missed a point attempt in the 3rd minute, which he really should have converted, as well as off loading two hand passes for shots in the first twenty minutes but after that, much like Brogan, his influence wained. Although he started the first half further out than Brogan he also had to go wandering in the second half to get on the ball – four of his six second half touches were no nearer than 38m from goal – and much like Brogan he could hardly get on the ball at all inside Donegal’s 45 in the final 25 minutes.

Conor McManus
McManus touches V Donegal

Monaghan effectively played Kieran Hughes up front on his own for much of the game so McManus’s attacking forays were very limited. O’Donoghue will not be asked to do as defensive a role as McManus nor will he be as isolated when he does get the ball.

I think we can dismiss the McManus comparison. Brogan & Clarke’s roles, further out the pitch, were similar to O’Donoghue’s in the drawn game but without the end product. None of the three could get in close to goal however.

So what do Kerry do? Play O’Donoghue out the pitch, where he can get his hands on the ball, and thus try and have a greater impact on the game or play him closer to goal as a Donaghy foil, like the semi final replay, in the knowledge that his touches will be reduced but not knowing just how reduced they will be?

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2 Responses to “O’Donoghue & how Donegal handled opposition sharp shooters”

  1. jhartogs Says:

    Reblogged this on Irish history, folklore and all that and commented:
    O’Donoghue & how Donegal handled opposition sharp shooters

  2. An Uneasy Sense of Confidence | samsforthehills Says:

    […] more easily available.  Dontfoul had a look at the effectiveness of O’Donoghue in a deeper role here.  If Donegal can force him deep, it will surely increase our chances of winning the […]

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