From an analysis and review standpoint I am forever railing against recency bias. This “railing” comes about however because of its pervasiveness. It’s an in-built near automatic response. And of course I fell into the trap myself.
Watching the Mayo – Roscommon game last week Cillian O’Connor missed a central free about 33metres out and I had immediate flashbacks to (a) a number of missed frees in the previous round against Kerry and (b) that missed free in last year’s All Ireland final.
Was this latest missed free a sign of some cliff having been reached? Was one of Mayo’s most consistent weapons beginning to malfunction? Of course not.
In the three league games to date O’Connor has hit 79% of his frees. Well above the ~72% Championship average. On Expt Pts his tally is -0.39; he has basically scored what is expected. Now the argument could be made that someone with O’Connor’s reputation should be in positive Expt Pts territory. Fine. However we must always remember that the Expt Pts tally is based off Championship returns. Frees taken in (mainly) pristine weather on (mainly) pristine surfaces. O’Connor is fine. To be slightly off in the middle of the league is acceptable? For comparison Dean Rock is running at 75% conversion rate with an Expt Pts tally of -0.86.
What I did argue however in last year’s All Ireland review is that O’Connor had an arc outside of which he was vulnerable (the missed free in the drawn All Ireland being right on this arc). Given weather, pitch conditions etc. it is fair to expect that arc to contract at this time of year and if we placed this contracted arc over O’Connor’s frees to date then I would suggest that arguement is still relevant. He has taken 6 frees on the edges of this constricted arc and converted 3 – 50% Success Rate. He has also missed his only 45.
So in conclusion – bloody recency bias!! But O’Connor is generally fine and still remains one of the most consistent free takers once within his range.