Mayo Kickouts (pre 2020 Final)

Kickouts are a huge element of any game. Where keepers kick them to, who gains possession, and how, and what teams do with those possessions. Prime example being last year when Dublin outkicked the Kerry press by picking out Brian Howard on the sideline and then setting up McCaffrey’s goal.

The interest in kickouts (as with most things!) tends to peak when Mayo are involved. The overarching sense in the build-up to this final is that David Clarke’s kickouts can be “gotten at”. So in the best traditions of the blog let us preview the kickout battle on Saturday by reviewing what has happened previously between these two teams.

Overview

We have six Championship games in the database between Dublin & Mayo (2015 drawn semi-final and replay, 2016 drawn final and replay, 2017 final and the 2019 semi-final) and whilst the protagonists, be that the Mayo keeper (more on that anon), the managers or the outfield players, have changed the overall outline of the teams, and the game plans therein, have remained intact.

In the six games there were 259 kickouts with Dublin gaining 13 (136 v 123) more possessions*.

*Personally I think language here is important; “winning” is a very positive phrase indicating that teams have done something “right”. But you can “win” a kickout that was terrible (opposition has a 3 on 1 but the one player comes out with the ball). Or indeed by not doing anything at all (ball dribbles out over the sideline). Instead teams gain, or retain, a possession.

Mayo defended those Dublin possessions well – to the extent that despite having 13 more possessions Dublin only produced 3 more shots. Mayo were more efficient at moving their kickout possessions to a shot. But as ever Dublin’s more clinical finishing saw them convert those three extra shots to 2-02 on the scoreboard.

However from a macro view, roughly 0 – 01, and half a shot, extra per game is nowhere near the dominance that is generally attributed to Dublin’s kickout performances.

Dublin’s kickouts

The above table compares Dublin’s kickouts in the six games against Mayo with opponents in other semi-final and finals during the same period. So we are comparing Mayo’s efforts with very similar calibre teams in similar high profile games.

And in truth Mayo have performed well by comparison. They have restricted Dublin to a 79% retention rate whereas other opponents have allowed Dublin an 84% retention rate. Now part of that could be the likes of Tyrone dropping off, and allowing Dublin to have the short ones, but when we look at what Dublin did with those possessions we can see that Mayo restricted Dublin to 0.33 points per possession (ppp) whilst others allowed 0.35. Mayo also scored more, both actually and per possession, than others did on the Dublin kickouts they gained possession of.

Combining all that Mayo come out looking better than Dublin’s other opponents allowing them to net 0.19ppp vs 0.23ppp against other teams.

That is one comparison point – to Mayo’s peers. But how does that 0.19 ppp allowed compare directly to Dublin?

Mayo kickouts

Things are not so rosy. Yes Mayo stack up well when compared to their peers however Dublin are a rung above and it shows here. Mayo restrict Dublin to 0.19 ppp on their kickouts … but Dublin have held Mayo to 0.12ppp on theirs. When they get their hands on the ball Mayo are more or less in line with Dublin scoring 2 – 26, or 0.33 ppp on their own kickouts with Dublin scoring 4-23, or 0.35ppp, on theirs.

The issue, in the main, is the sheer volume of Mayo kickouts that Dublin win. Dublin have only allowed Mayo to retain possession on 28% of Mayo’s kickouts. For comparison Mayo retain possession on 82% of their kickouts against other teams. Dublin retain possession on 79% of their kickouts versus Mayo.

On top of that volume Dublin look to strike hard. When they do get their hands on a Mayo kickout they produce a shot 62% of the time; others produce a shot 53% of the time they “win” a Mayo kickout.

Mayo keepers

One point of distinction within Mayo’s six games is the fact that they have used two keepers. The six games break down as two for David Clarke, three for Rob Hennelly with the sixth split more or less evenly when Clarke replaced Hennelly after 41 minutes of the 2016 final replay

Now not everything is based purely on the keeper. To absolutely, correctly, compare the two keepers we should be overlaying games state, the opposition’s tactics, the positioning of the outfield players etc.

But we don’t have that. Let alone that I only started recording the length of kickouts from 2017 onwards so we can’t, from this vantage, tell if Clarke’s higher retention rate is due to a higher proportion of short kickouts. Instead what we have is as per previous tables – retention rates and scores from kickouts won/loss. And against Dublin Clarke comes out well on top.

2020

So if Clarke has done well against Dublin, despite obvious failings such as the ball over the sideline at the end of the 2017 final, how is he, and Mayo, doing in 2020?

The answer is – not great. In their last three games (against Roscommon, Galway & Tipperary) Mayo have only retained possession on 69% of their own kickouts. We have seen that this was 72% previously vs Dublin … but acknowledge that Dublin is a step ahead of the rest. If the trend were to continue you would expect Mayo to come up with …. ~65% in the final??

And the more we delve into the numbers the less appetising they become. That retention rate of 69% includes short kickouts which account for 42% of all of Mayo’s kickouts. Mayo retained possession on 93% of these, which in itself is poor, but all kickouts out past the 45 saw Mayo with a Retention rate of 53% and a net ppp of -0.13. The opposition combined has scored 1 – 04 from the 18 possession gained off Mayo kickouts out past the 45. Mayo have scored 0 – 03 from 20 similar kickouts “won”.

Looking at the chart for these kickouts out past the 45 (we are missing some whereby the cameras didn’t pan out quick enough to see where they landed) we can see some obvious trends. Mayo have avoided the “mid-mid” section out to about 55m which ostensibly means that teams shouldn’t be able to come straight through on goal from one broken kickout however Clarke’s lack of relative length (think of where Patton or Beggan can land them) means that the whole “mid” section between the 45 & 65 can be flooded and the opposition are able to key on anything that is not pinpoint. Or has any shape of an arc on it.

Mayo have historically done better than others against Dublin on kickouts. Not better than Dublin but better than their peers. Clarke’s kickouts have had much better outcomes than Hennelly’s. But the 2020 trend is not encouraging and whilst in a one off game one or two breaks can have a big effect on numbers Mayo will, collectively, most definitely have to come up with something much better than has been the case so far this year.

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One Response to “Mayo Kickouts (pre 2020 Final)”

  1. Final build-up continues - Mayo GAA Blog Says:

    […] a great analysis piece on the Don’t Foul blog on our kickouts – here. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t make for very happy reading from our […]

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