Dublin v Donegal 2016 League SF

There is no point pretending that this game was anything other than a run out. As Chris McNulty commented on Twitter (@chrismcnulty86 – a good follow on all things Donegal) Donegal took the game so seriously that they didn’t train all week. I have completely forgotten who, so apologies for not crediting, but some other wag commented that it was like an exhibition match at the opening of a new ground (see note1). It just had that feel to it.

Still. The two teams may not have engaged as if it were the height of Summer but we we’ll fire up the numbers and see what it throws up.

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Dublin 52 46 30 1 – 20 18.87
Donegal 46 38 27 0 – 13 16.08

In the opening league game between these two Dublin were restricted to a 76% attack rate and 21 shots. Here it was an 88% attack rate and 30 shots. Again in that opening game Dublin managed (or maybe more accurately the Donegal defense allowed) 0.29 points per possession. Here it was 0.44. There was just no bite to Donegal.

It was not like there was a huge difference in opportunities between the halves either. The goal at the start of the second half did not see Donegal switch off. Both, by some statistical quirk, had stat lines of 26 possessions with 23 attacks and 15 shots. Dublin were slightly more accurate in the first half with a conversion rate of 73% (0-11 from the 15 shots) though the second half conversion rate of 67% (1 – 09 from 15) was also very efficient.

Although they may not take much from the game one positive aspect, from a Dublin perspective, is that their early accuracy came despite the fact that two of their main strife force, Brogan & Mannion, combined for a mere two shots in the first half.

What of Donegal? It may come as some surprise to note that – in pure shooting terms – they were not all that far behind Dublin.

Dub - Don league SF Expt Pts

The above graph shows the team’s respective shooting broken down into actual score vs Expected score (see note2). Donegal, despite what was noted above re application, were on track with Dublin up until the ~33rd minute. Dublin tagged on 0 – 03 at the end of the first half and kicked off with a goal at the start of the 2nd but up until then Donegal were right with them.

The “but” quite obviously comes with caveats. The first being that whilst teams with average returns from the shots attempted would have been level around the 33rd minute Dublin are not average. Nor in their own ways are Mayo or Kerry. Dublin outperformed their Expt Pts from the get go (as an aside Kerry did something vaguely similar against Cork. That day they score 0 – 10 from their first 12 shots inside 20 minutes and were up and gone. It will be interesting to see the starts both teams make, or are allowed make, in the final. But I digress). On top of this Donegal lagged behind what was expected. One of the hallmarks of the 2012 & 2014 teams was their remarkable accuracy in games where the shot counts were very low. They will need to regain this accuracy.

A second point on the Donegal shooting was just how reliant they were on Murphy & McBrearty. Here they accounted for 70% of Donegal’s shots (Dublin’s top 3 marksmen in terms of Volume – Rock, Brogan & Kilkenny accounted for 52% combined). In the opening league game this duo accounted for a more realistic 45% of shots.

Part of this over reliance on Murphy & McBrearty was Donegal’s volume of shots from frees. In total they had 11 shots on goal from free kicks. Dublin had a mere four (plus one 45). Relying on frees as a way to keep the scoreboard ticking over is a tried and trusted manner but in many ways it is dicey proposition as gaining a free is not always within your control. You are reliant on the defender’s, and perhaps more importantly the referee’s, complicity.

Finally Dublin’s Expt Pts was boosted by creating goal chances. They had four shots at goal in total scoring 1 – 01 (about what is expected). Donegal only manufactured the one shot at goal and that a weak, in terms of where the shot was taken from, one from Murphy in the dying embers of the game that went straight at Cluxton. In fairness in the three other Donegal league games that I charted (Roscommon, Kerry & Dublin) they came out even in goal shots in all three so this game may not be emblematic.

So is there hope for Donegal? Absolutely. Over the two games they created as many shots as Dublin. In the first game, when they were not at full tilt but were at least more inclined to try than here, they were able to restrict Dublin’s shooting. But there are also some obvious dangers. They must ensure the shooting volumes are not as concentrated as in this game and also improve their accuracy from play (1-06 from 27 shots over the two Dublin games for a success rate of 26%). The control – in terms of game tempo and shot selection – needs to re-emerge. Goals need to be kept to a minimum. The restrictive game plan does not lend itself to chasing games.

Note1; if you have a twitter account it’s probably better to follow me there (@dontfoul). I tend to have game “scorecards”, like the below, up a lot quicker than the blog posts. Plus by having the game capsule up there I don’t feel the need to get every stat up here!

Dub%20-%20Don%20league%20SF%20Overview

Note2; I have a piece half written on Expected Points which I will publish prior to the Championship. In essence it is the same measurement as the weighting that has been used heretofore but (hopefully) is a lot more readily understood.

Appendix

Shot Charts

Dublin’s shooting
Dublin shooting (V Donegal 16 league SF)

Donegal’s shooting
Donegal shooting (V Dublin 16 league SF)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = normal time from play, red = goal attempt

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