Corofin v Ballintubber 2019 Connacht Club SF

In many ways the game was similar to the 2018 Connacht final (review here) in that the overall numbers (possessions, shots, Conversion Rates) were quite close but Corofin never really felt in any trouble. The below is an extract from that 2018 game

But the main reason for their easy third was due to a devastating 15 minute spell from the 33rd minute onwards. In that period Corofin had 16 possessions taking eleven shots … and scoring 1 – 08 (Conversion Rate of 82% with an Expt Pts +3.06).

Corofin had less of a surge in this game but they again showed their clinical nature in the third quarter scoring 1 – 04 from just 5 shots (Expt pts of +3.53) enabling them to ease out to a six point lead after 45 minutes. Ballintubber showed great battling qualities to get within one heading into injury time but the damage had been done.

In another way this game was very different from 2018. The 2018 version was a veritable turnover fest with 90 total possessions of which 58 (64%) were turnovers. Both teams were very careful with the ball here producing just the 63 total possessions in total of which 28 (44%) were turnovers. Both teams played “keep ball” for long periods with 20 of the possessions having a string of at least 10 passes.

That volume of possessions is not just low compared to the 2018 game but very low full stop. On a straight line conversion to a 70 minute intercounty game (they are not the same thing with injury time etc. but this is just for illustrative purposes!) those 63 possessions grade out at 74. The average intercounty Championship total in 2018 & 2019 was 90. In 150 games since 2015 only one game – Fermanagh v Monaghan in 2018 – came in at lower than 74. This was a possession game brought to the extremes.

 

Corofin’s defense

Much has been made (both by myself and others) of the Corofin attack. It wasn’t at full throttle here (50% Conversion Rate from play; 1 – 05 from 12) though the depth of their attack can be gauged by the fact that (a) their three goal shots didn’t come from the vaunted forwards but instead Kieron Molloy & Liam Silke and (b) Gary Sice was 0 – 03 from 3 on frees in 2018 but didn’t take one here when they went 0 – 05 from 5.

Instead of focussing on the attack it is work taking a quick look at their defence through the lens of Ballintubber shooting.

Ballintubber’s slow build up would appear not to have worked. Corofin were able to maintain as clean a “D” as you are likely to see allowing no shot at goal and just two attempts from the very outer edge of the shooting arc.

But the slow build up is not the sole reason for this paucity of close shooting. In the 2018 game (shot chart below) only three Ballintubber shots were taken close to goal despite it being a very different type of game.

In ~130 minutes of high level club football Corofin were able to keep Ballintubber to one goal attempt, did not allow a shot from a free from closer than 35 metres, and only allowed six of 28 point attempts (21%) from “inside”.

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