Donegal V Kerry All Ireland preview

When Kerry have the ball

Kerry attacks

Kerry opponent Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Weighting
Cork 42 38 90% 24 63% +4.575
Galway 40 35 88% 21 60% +2.563
Mayo 40 28 70% 17 61% +3.252
Mayo replay (70 mins) 38 30 79% 14 47% -1.774
avg 40.0 32.8 82% 19.0 58% +2.154
Champ (’12 & ’13 avg 70 mins) 35.8 27.6 77.2% 14.1 51.0%

The most recent memory we have of Kerry’s attack is their semi final replay against Mayo in Limerick which also happens to be their worst outing to date. The surprise is not that they had a bad day against one of the best defences in the country but rather that it was so poor compared to their returns against the same team six days previously.

Taking the season as a whole (the four point win over Clare was not shown) their attacking play has been outstanding. They have created above average attacks in each game whilst also posting, on average, a shot rate of 82%. Though in the context of meeting Donegal the average of the two Mayo games (75%) might be a better marker.

What has been extremely impressive is their shooting. Despite a poor performance the last day out they have maintained an average of a 58% Success Rate with a corresponding high weighting.

A high volume of attacks + an above average shot rate + c14% uplift in accuracy = 5 scores higher per game than the average

Donegal defending

Donegal opponent Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Weighting
Derry 31 22 71% 11 50% +0.977
Antrim 31 22 71%% 22 55% +1.680
Monaghan 36 23 64% 10 43% -2.258
Armagh 37 25 68% 12 48% +0.998
Dublin 49 38 78% 17 45% +0.008
avg 36.8 26.0 71% 12.4 48% +0.281
Champ (’12 & ’13 avg 70 mins) 35.8 27.6 77.2% 14.1 51.0%

Of course Kerry won’t be coming up against any defence in the final. They’ll be meeting Donegal. Let’s indulge in some “what-iffery”

Due to the nature of how they sit back Donegal do allow the opposition to have the ball within their 45. Whilst Kerry will not be at Dublin’s pace (no other team is) they can expect to do as well as, if not better, than Monaghan & Armagh here. Those two averaged 36.5 attacking possessions whilst Kerry averaged 39 in their two encounters against Mayo. Let’s go with a mid-point of 38 Kerry attacks.

The big battle will come within the next two metrics – Shot Rate & Success Rate. Defensively to maintain a Shot Rate of 71% over five games, when one of the opponents was Dublin, is hugely impressive. Kerry managed an average of 75% against Mayo. Again let’s pick a mid-point of 73%

So if we assume 38 attacks with a 73% Shot Rate that gives Kerry 28 shots. Donegal have allowed the opposition to score at a range of 43% to 55% though they have tightened up in their last three games. We know Kerry are one of the most accurate teams and despite their poor outing against Mayo in the replay they have maintained a Success Rate of 58%.

For this exercise I think it is safe to pick at the higher end of the range that Donegal allow. If Kerry can hit 50% then they score 14 times (0-14, 1-13, 2-12). For every 2% increase in accuracy they increase the outcome by 0.5 scores – so hit their average of 58% and the return 16 scores (0-16, 1-15, 2-14).

Apropros of nothing – in the 2012 QF Kerry’s stat line was 33 possessions & 23 shots (a 70% Shot Rate) with a Success Rate of 48%.

From Play

Kerry opponent Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
Cork 31 19 61% +4.684
Galway 30 19 63% +4.276
Mayo 24 15 63% +4.218
Mayo replay 30 10 33% -3.763
avg 28.8 15.8 54.8% +2.354
Champ avgs (’12 & ’13 70 mins) 20.3 9.2 45.4%

Whilst the above numbers are very impressive they become even more so when you strip out goal attempts. We will see in the Donegal piece below that their goal shots are “masking” some average point taking. The opposite is the case here.

Kerry have attempted 14 shots at goal converting five to a score. When going for points they are running at a 57% Success Rate (58 from 101) and a combined weighting of +10.180.

O’Donoghue is the marquee forward – and with good reason. He has taken 25% of Kerry’s point attempts whilst maintaining a quick staggering 76% accuracy rate. He was slowed down by Mayo (54% Success Rate with a weighting of +0.656) but that was due in no small part to two man marking performances that will in all probability earn Keith Higgins an All Star. Donegal can produce such performances (McGee inside or Lacey outside) but they will need to. If O’Donoghue gets the ball he has the accuracy to punish.

Player Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
J O’Donoghue 25 19 76% +6.257
P Geaney 14 6 43% -0.545
Others 54 30 56% +4.827

But it is not just O’Donoghue who is accurate. Himself and Geaney are the only players to take double digit shots but despite this the rest of the team have a combined 56% Success Rate. The team as a whole has the ability to score if the opportunities are taken from O’Donoghue.

Shots from deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
P Geaney 6 5 83% -0.408
J O’Donoghue 5 4 80% +0.236
B Sheehan 5 3 60% -0.372
J Buckley 3 1 33% -1.253
D Moran 1 0 0% -0.547
Total 20 13 65% -2.344

This is the one area of weakness that Kerry’s attack has shown to date. The above table is for frees only however if we include the other four deadballs that they attempted (2x penalties plus 2x 45s) then the Success Rate comes in at 66.7% with a weighting of -1.158. This is essentially bang in line with the ’12 & ’13 averages (also 66.7%) however the low weighting indicates that the ones missed were on the easier side.

A word of warning though – whilst the weightings being so poor should ring alarm bells some might draw comfort from the Success Rate being average. I haven’t collated the data for 2014 yet but through 19 games the Success Rate for deadballs has jumped to 74%. This is provisional at the moment but shows how far behind the Kerry deadball striking has been this year.

When Donegal have the ball

Donegal attacks

Donegal opponent Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Weighting
Derry 33 22 67% 12 55% +0.339
Antrim 48 38 79% 19 50% +1.000
Monaghan 33 26 79% 15 58% +1.710
Armagh 42 33 79% 13 39% -3.541
Dublin 33 25 76% 17 68% +3.835
avg 37.8 28.8 76% 15.2 52.8% +0.669
Champ (’12 & ’13 avg 70 mins) 35.8 27.6 77.2% 14.1 51.0%

Viewed as a whole there is nothing noteworthy about Donegal’s attack. This however masks the one game potential that this team possesses. The two highest Success Rates within a game belong to this squad – the 68% recorded in the semi final against Dublin and a 67% against Tyrone in 2013. Both were achieved from a below average number of shots (indeed the 67% against Tyrone came from a paltry 18 shots). Of course if your shooting boots are not on when producing a low number of shots you can get yourself into all sorts of trouble – exhibit A being the Ulster final last year where Donegal only managed seven scores from 21 shots (33% Success Rate).

Which Donegal attack will we see? The accuracy evident against Tyrone & Dublin or the wastefulness we witnessed in the Armagh and Monaghan (2013 version) games?

Kerry defending

Kerry opponent Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Weighting
Cork 26 23 88% 12 52% -0.359
Galway 41 31 76% 12 39% -2.041
Mayo 37 29 78% 17 59% +2.792
Mayo replay 31 26 84% 14 54% +0.975
avg 33.8 27.3 81% 13.8 50% +0.342
Champ (’12 & ’13 avg 70 mins) 35.8 27.6 77.2% 14.1 51.0%

Much has been made of the Donegal defence and how they defend. Kerry may not be a traditional blanket defence team but they restrict the amount of attacks the opposition has. This is done in two main parts – firstly they do drop players back (think of Galvin in previous years and Declan O’Sullivan/D Walsh this). Secondly they use their inate kicking skills to restrict the opposition’s time on the ball – another very adept way of lowering the opposition’s attacks. In the Cork & Galway games they went 25 & 31 minutes without giving a pass away.

Donegal are not the only team capable of enforcing their tempo on a game.

From Play

Donegal opponent Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
Derry 18 9 50% +0.598
Antrim 32 16 50% +1.644
Monaghan 17 9 53% +1.681
Armagh 24 7 29% -3.209
Dublin 20 15 75% +3.686
avg 22.2 11.2 50.5% +0.880
Champ avgs (’12 & ’13 70 mins) 20.3 9.2 45.4%

Recency bias may be at work in how we view Donegal’s attack. Their 75% against Dublin in the semi final is by far the best we have seen this year – but it is only one game removed from their abysmal outing against Armagh.

As a whole their shooting from play appears to be quite good with a healthy overall average and above average returns in four of their five games. Their accuracy when going for goal has greatly helped this however.

In 2013 goal shots were converted at a 31% clip. Donegal have had 14 attempts at goal in this year’s campaign managing to score 8 goals (a 57% Success Rate). Not alone that but they have also scored 4 points from those 14 shots – so their goal shot tally this year is a Success Rate of 86% (12 from 14) with a weighting of +5.997! Very impressive.

The flip side of this of course is that when they go for points the returns are not so healthy (a combined Success Rate of 45% and a weighting of -1.597). Four players, namely MacNiallais, McBrearty, Murphy & McFadden account for 57% of all of Donegal’s point attempts and their individual results are below. McFadden has struggled all year with the semi final outing, where he converted two chances from inside the 20m line, being his best day out.

Player Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
O MacNiallais 17 9 53% +0.735
P McBrearty 15 7 47% +0.427
C McFadden 13 3 23% -3.821
M Murphy 10 4 40% -0.169

From deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
M Murphy
– Frees 18 11 61% -1.071
– 45s & sideline 3 2 67% +0.453
C McFadden
– Frees 12 9 75% 0.016
Total 33 22 67% -0.602

From afar it would appear that it is not only Kerry who have been struggling with free kicks this year. In their march to the title in 2012 Murphy & McFadden recorded a combined Success Rate of 78% from all deadballs. They have dropped off that rate this year however this can, in part, be attributed to Murphy’s long range free taking. He has had seven attempts, some of them quite outrageous, from outside the 45 converting two. This leaves a success rate of 78% for frees inside the 45 – much healthier and along the lines of what we would expect from the duo.

In their four games to date Kerry have conceded shots from frees on 26 occasions (6 v Cork, 4 v Galway and 8 in both of the Mayo games) – 23 inside the 45. That equates to 5.75 “scoreable” frees a game. Given Donegal’s prowess from frees inside the 45 Kerry will want to ensure that no more than six kickable frees are conceded.

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2 Responses to “Donegal V Kerry All Ireland preview”

  1. jhartogs Says:

    Reblogged this on Irish history, folklore and all that and commented:
    Donegal V Kerry All Ireland preview

  2. An Uneasy Sense of Confidence | samsforthehills Says:

    […] cast, including Colm McFadden, who is likely to be buoyed after his semi final return.  As dontfoul points out, the rest of the Kerry players have taken a lot of shots with an impressive success rate over the […]

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