Portlaoise v Éire Óg 2019 Leinster Club SF

Portlaoise really struggled offensively in the second half. They only managed seven shots, five from play, and whilst many will look to attribute this to (a) having a man sent off and (b) then chasing a goal this somewhat conceals how they were going. Up until Lillis’ red card the shot count in the second half was 8 – 4 in Éire Óg’s favour whilst they were 0 – 05 to 0 – 01 ahead on the scoreboard.

It is hard, from a purely numeric perspective, to know how much opprobrium to heap on an attack when there is a poor offensive display or, conversely, how much praise should be heaped on the defending team. But from Éire Óg’s perspective there are some things we can elicit. Like their discipline; both in terms of shape and tackling.

Up until the red card Portlaoise had 33 possessions. Of those 15 had at least a double digit volume of passes yet in these 15 possessions Éire Óg only gave away one shot from free, didn’t cough up a goal chance and only allowed 0 – 01 from nine point attempts. Portlaoise couldn’t break them down, got frustrated by Éire Óg’s shape and tenacity, and started taking poor options (0 – 02 from 12 “outside” below)

Éire Óg did what was required up front. Missed a penalty but converted their other two goal chances. Recovered from some shaky frees in the first half to score 0 – 04 from six. 41% (0 – 07 from 17) on point attempts.

Despite scoring 2 – 11, which is an excellent score at this time of year, this was achieved through volume rather than accuracy. Their attacking play complemented their excellent defensive play rather than trumping it.

Therein Darragh O’Brien was quietly excellent. He may not have shown up on the scoreboard (0 – 01 compared to Chris Blake’s 1 – 04 for example), but was exemplary in the No.11 position with a very impressive eight primary assists.

Kickouts

This was in interesting battle throughout the game. Above is Portlaoise’s kickout chart. They were able to get them away into the left full/half back pocket relatively easily. One went out over the sideline but nothing much came of it. This is Brody’s natural pocket (when he opened his body and went to his right Blake caught it short of the 45 and scored a point) and was more or less given to Portlaoise. But they were then not able to use it.

Portlaoise got their hands on 14 short kickouts. All bar one were roll outs into the D or into that pocket. Portlaoise were only able to progress four to a shot. The possession on five didn’t make the Éire Óg 45 whilst another four saw just one player control the ball inside that 45. Éire Óg just suffocated them as they progressed up the pitch.

On the flip side Éire Óg really struggled on their kickout in the first half.

An over simplification for sure but they had two kickouts in that half; long mid-right into a contest on the 65 and onto the 45 by the sideline to the keeper’s left. 7 of their 10 first half kickouts went into these two areas with Portlaoise getting their hands on five.

Truth be told Portlaoise didn’t produce enough to put the Éire Óg keeper under pressure in the second half but when he was called upon (even before the Lillis red card reduced Portlaoise’s options) he changed it up avoiding the two first half pockets and dropping the ball into an area between the 45 & 65 to his left. They won 3 of 4 here and also picked up two short ones. Portlaoise were never able to put them under the sort of intense pressure that produced in the first half where they won four out of five Éire Óg kickouts racking up 1 – 02

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