Dublin’s 2015 Goal Attempts

Dublin have always gone for goal at a higher rate than other teams. Things were no different in 2015. They made up 13% of the competitors in the 26 games recorded but were responsible for 23% of all goal attempts. The attempts were not scattergun either as at a Conversion Rate of 53% (18 from 34) they maintained the average whilst attempting much more than anyone else. So is there anything we can learn by reviewing their 2015 attempts?


Where do Dublin’s goal attempts originate from?

19 came from possession gained on a kickout; nine from their own and ten on the opposition’s. 13 attempts came from turnover ball with the remaining two coming from Dublin shots that went astray – both from Brian Fenton incidentally (McManamon’s scramble against Mayo in the drawn game & Fenton’s cross shot – in the replay – that was guided in by Brogan).

What was noticeable just watching the goals back to back was the speed at which Dublin break. Of the thirteen turnovers that produced an attempt nine began inside their own 45. Add these to the nine from their own kickout and that is 53% (18 from 34) of their goal attempts starting from a position that the opposition should be in a position to defend.

But it’s the speed of transition that does for teams. The average for these 18 attempts, from gaining possession to taking a shot, is 20.3 seconds and 5.4 passes. We have nothing to compare this to but next time you are watching an intercounty side gain the ball inside the 45 count to 20 seconds (or 5 passes) and you will soon see how quick that is. And that is the average!

Dublin will not be that quick with every turnover, or kickout won, but the intent is always there. And when it is on they go. This is where McCaffrey’s transition speed, and Kilkenny’s accurate foot passing in the middle third, are hugely beneficial.

Speed of transition is further emphasised by the ten attempts generated off the opposition’s kickouts. Again they will not always be this quick but the first recipient has his head up looking for the forward ball. On the ten attempts the average time elapsed was 11.4 seconds incorporating 4.2 passes.


Below are the outcomes of the 32 attempts from play; the original 34 included two penalties that were converted.

Goal attempts (2015) working

There are two things to the above. The first is the very nice cluster of goals Dublin had on the edge of the small square. The second is to note that this reflects a mixture of individual accuracy as well as team play. Of the 32 goal attempts five are fisted whilst another four are scrambles where the ball shot was instinctive rather than planned.

It says a lot about Dublin’s general attacking intent, and support play, that there are players in a position to fist the ball in or to be the first onto these scrambles. But if we are trying to decipher the Dublin players’ accuracy we need to remove these. Below is what the goal attempt chart looks like with these nine removed. A much reduced return of 35% on 23 shots.

Goal attempts (2015) no scrambles

The more I do this, and the more granular data we get our hands on, the more obvious it becomes that averages hide a lot. So any outcomes – whether it be weightings or Expected Points – used on the blog needs to be always challenged. In the last four years 36% of all goal shots were converted but what proportion of those attempts were fisted? Under pressure? Scrambles? Is 36% a fair representation of shot accuracy?

Post script – anything else on the Dublin shots?

• Thirteen different players had a shot at goal across the seven games
• It is hard to say from the camera angles how many were on target but only 1 of the 32 attempts from play went wide. Three were blocked, six saved, 1 hit the post, 4 went for a point whilst another was diverted in (the aforementioned Brogan toe poke on Fenton’s cross shot)
• Outside of the goal McMahon bundled into the net against Mayo he took two further shots. And scored a point with both – keep the ball down Philly
• Excluding fisted attempts & scrambles (the 23 attempts in the second chart above) only six (26%) were attempted under any form of defensive pressure

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