Galway v Tipperary 2016 AI Quarter Final

August 3, 2016

For those new to the blog, or who haven’t been here for a while, please find a refresher on the definitions and how the numbers are compiled here

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Galway 45 32 19 1 – 10 13.53
Tipperary 60 50 42 3 – 13 27.13

Possessions, Attack Rate, Shot Rate, Expt Pts …. Tipperary blew Galway out of the water. They were so comfortable that their shooting was able to be well below par yet they could win by 10 points in a hack canter.

Generally speaking teams score at the rate of 0.3 points per possession. Having 15 more possessions in a game, which is the biggest gap this year – Monaghan had a surplus of 13 in their one sided procession against Down, gave Tipperary a ~5 point leg up.

Origination Galway Tipperary
Own kickout 16 15
Opp kickout 5 11
Turnover own 3rd 19 22
Turnover mid 3rd 4 3
Turnover opp 3rd 0 1
Other 1 8

The origination of the possessions are laid out above. We can see that the majority of Tipperary’s surplus came from the opposition’s kickout (where Tipperary won 11 to Galway’s 5) and “other”. The kickouts we’ll touch on later but “other” consists of throw-ins and possession re-gathered (not sure if that’s a word!) by a team after their own shot. Both teams split the opening throw-ins leaving Tipperary gathering seven of their own shots. Not only are they extra possessions but they are possessions gained inside the opponent’s 45. Tipperary managed a further seven shots off these possession re-gains scoring 1- 02. Now from a shooting perspective that’s not great as it is 1-02 off 14 shots however it does lead to a sense of overwhelming superiority as shots appear to land in waves constantly cranking up the pressure on the opposition

Those shot gains came in a variety of ways – balls back off the post, being first to goalkeeper parries or picking up balls further out the field after shots were blocked – and indicate perhaps just how much more alert, and on their toes, Tipperary were compared to Galway.

Galway

On much lower possession volumes Galway had to mind what ball they did have but unfortunately for them it just didn’t stick. A 71% Attack Rate (getting the ball into Tipperary’s 45) is below average whilst a shot Rate of 59% is very low. Both numbers are very far below what was required when you consider the edge Tipperary had in possessions and shots (notwithstanding the poor execution mentioned above)

Galway didn’t engage Tipperary high up the pitch so only nine of their possessions occurred outside their own kickout or their own 65m line. They had to work hard to get the ball up to the forwards and when they did they just didn’t pull the trigger. It is somewhat understandable in the second half, when the game was gone with 20 minutes to go, that they were shot shy in an attempt to get goals but in the first half, when it was there to be won, they only had 10 shots compared to Tipperary’s 24. Indeed after Danny Cummins’ point in the 14th minute which put them 0 – 04 t0 0 – 01 ahead they did not have another shot from play until Paul Conroy’s effort in the 32nd minute. In that intervening 18 minutes they had seven possessions and four attacks with just a Gary Sice missed free to show for their efforts.

Tipperary in that same period had 15 possessions, 14 attacks and 12 shots (including four on goal) scoring 1 – 06.

Galway were absolutely blitzed and the 1-01 they scored at the end of the half enabled the HT scoreboard to gloss over just how comprehensively outplayed they were in the first half.

Tipperary Shooting

That being said the Tipperary performance was not without its issues. Yes they racked up a large possession volume and their approach play was such to produce high attack & shot rates. But their shooting itself was poor.

In the previous round against Derry it was noted that whilst they had run up another big score (an impressive 1 – 21) this was achieved through volume rather than overt accuracy. Their Expt Pts total that day was +0.14 off of 37 shots. Again the 37 was high but their overall accuracy was bang on average.

Against Galway they had an even more impressive 42 shots but “only” scored 3 – 13 gaving an overall conversion rate of 38% and an Expt Pts tally of -5.13. That’s the problem with racking a possession volume through the “other” origination outlined above – you have to miss your original shot to regain the possession! We won’t see many games where you have a conversion rate less than 40% (only other winner this year was Tyrone against Donegal), such a negative Expt Pts and yet still romp to a 10 point win! So how was such a negative waiting obtained?

Goal attempts
Tipperary had a quite remarkable ten attempts at goal scoring 3 – 02. That looks like a healthy 1.10 points per attempt however the average is actually 1.19 so although the Conversion Rate here is high at 50% the goal conversion rate of 30% is below average and leads to an Expt Pts of -0.90 on goal attempts

Deadballs
Tipperary converted three of their five deadballs (again the average is ~67%) returning an Expt Pts of -0.21. Against Derry they went 9 from 13 (69% Conversion Rate; Expt Pts of -0.29) so between then O’Halloran & Quinlivan are about average; Conversion Rate of 67% & a combined Expt Pts of -0.50

Point attempts
So stripping out goal attempts and deadballs that leaves some very poor point taking. Tipperary had 27 point attempts but only scored 0 – 08; a 30% Conversion Rate with an Expt Pts return of -4.02. There is no hiding just how poor that is. The question then becomes will it be repeated?

One element of the performance that will give Tipperary solace is that they came out cold. We must remember that this was the first big Championship match in Croke Park for a lot of these players and it showed early on. Until the Quinlivan goal in the 16th minute Tipperary’s shooting from play read as 0 – 01 from 10 attempts (10% Conversion Rate) with an Expt Pts of -3.37. Whether it was the occasion or the very new test of shooting in to an empty Hill in a quarter final they were very, very poor early on. Thereafter they were much better returning 0 – 07 from 17; a low enough Conversion Rate of 41% but the Expt Pts of -0.45 shows it was only a touch below expected.

Against Derry they were 12 from 21 (57%, Expt Pts of +1.00) when attempting a point. That’s not a huge amount to go on but we can say that over the two games, apart from a 16 minute spell at the start of the Galway game which does have mitigating factors, they were about average. If they continue to produce the same volume of shots against Mayo or Tyrone as they did against Derry & Galway then they will take average shooting.

Kickouts
As noted above Tipperary were on top when it came to getting their hands on the opposition’s kickouts. Galway had 27 kickouts in total winning 16 with Tipperary claiming the other 11. That however is somewhat misleading as seven of Galway’s kickouts went short. So when Galway went past the 45 Tipperary came out on top 11 – 9.

Overall the net scoring on Galway’s kickouts was a washout (Galway scored 1- 05 from the possessions they won and let in 1-04 from the kickouts Tipperary claimed) however this may be an area of concern. Firstly Galway only scored 1-10 so to let 1-05 in from a set piece is somewhat disconcerting. Plus the goal came from a long kickout which carved open the defence once it bypassed midfield. Also will they have as much possession from either Tyrone or Mayo’s kickouts? And if not can they replace the 1-04?

Tipperary’s kickouts? Comerford has been rightly applauded for some of the pinpoint deliveries he had – especially out on the right touchline. Here again however the bare numbers can be deceiving. Tipperary gained possession 75% of the time (15 – 5) from their own kickouts 75% of the time. This however includes ten short kickouts so when the ball was contestable – landing beyond the 45 – honours were even at five apiece. Tipperary dodged a bullet here as Galway couldn’t do anything with these prime possessions, failing to register a point, but it’s hard to imagine Tyrone or Mayo remaining scoreless after winning Tipperary’s kickout(s).

Appendix

Shot Charts

Galway’s shooting

Galway shooting (V Tipperary16)

Tipperary’s shooting
Tipperary shooting (V Donegal 16)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half, red = goal attempt

 

Players with >= 4 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Exp Pts
M Quinlivan (Tipperary) 14 1 – 04 36% 8.59
S Walsh (Galway) 7 0 – 04 57% 4.97
K O’Halloran (Tipperary) 7 2 – 02 57% 4.55
C Sweeney (Tipperary) 6 0 – 04 67% 4.43

Derry v Tipperary 2016 AI Qualifiers

July 28, 2016

For those new to the blog, or who haven’t been here for a while, please find a refresher on the definitions and how the numbers are compiled here

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Derry 45 34 30 2 – 17 19.91
Tipperary 52 47 37 1 – 21 23.86

Tipperary controlled this game in many respects recording seven more possessions and 13 more attacks which culminated in seven extra shots. The drop from 13 additional attacks to just the seven extra shots can be attributed to Derry being more proficient at getting their shots off once inside the 45. The main reason Tipperary were within a whisker of going out of the Championship was Derry’s shooting.

Derry produced an Expt Pts tally of +6.09 which was bettered only by Tyrone’s +10.17 in the drawn game against Cavan when they smashed in 5-18 (as an aside the best Expt Pts games will always be those with a high volume of goals as you’re getting ~+1.8 Expt Pts for any that you convert).

Derry were aided by scoring 2-01 from their three goal chances (Expt Pts of +3.43) as well as converting all four frees (Expt Pts of +0.97) but their point taking really stood up converting 52% with an Expt Pts of +1.69.

It is hard to be critical given their overall returns but if you were to pick anything to review from their shooting display it would be the shot selection in the first half when playing in to the wind. Then they were 45% (0 – 05 from 11) with an Expt Pts return of -0.29. This is particularly harsh as it is viewed against the prism of their second half display (58%; 0 – 07 from 12 and +1.98) but in a one point game it is the small things that can be the making or breaking of a day.

Tipperary’s high score was not the product of excellent shooting but that of volume. 37 shots is an excellent return and ranks up there with the highest this year (Monaghan had 39 in their drubbing of Down). Their shooting was bang on average with a total Expt Pts of +0.14 recording Expt Pts tallies of -0.57 on goal attempts (1 – 00 from 3), -0.29 on deadballs (0 – 09 from 13) and +1.00 (0 – 12 from 21) on point attempts.

Sweeney & Quinlivan, working as an inside tandem, were extremely effective when shooting for points scoring a combined 0 – 07 from just eight shots (Expt Pts +2.53)

Derry’s defending late on

For all the excellent shooting above what stood out most was Derry’s defensive frailties in injury time. Below is a sequence of images from the 71st minute which shows any amount of space for the Tipperary forwards to roam into in the period

Equalising point

Derry Pic1 v Tipp

Tipperary attacked down the left but got stopped. Derry’s whole defence got sucked towards the ball however which meant that two quick passes to the right bye passed six Derry defenders and left an ocean of space for Sweeney to run in to for the equalising point. There is no Derry defender down the right or even covering in front

Leahy shot

Derry pic2 v Tipp

Tipperary won the subsequent kickout and attacked down the right which culminated in a blocked Leahy shot. Just before Leahy pulled the trigger however there was a moment when a simple popped hand pass (which came but was just out of reach of Leahy forcing him towards the by-line) would have created a three on one down Derry’s right.

Winning point

Derry pic3 v Tipp

Keane won a free after tackling Derry high up the pitch (as Derry were trying to exit following the Leahy blocked shot) and had a choice of players to choose from all of whom were in prime attacking position. He chose the right option in Sweeney but really could have given the ball to three players. In this instance Derry were trying to break with the ball, and win the game themselves, after winning a free to stop Tipperary but in doing so left their defence completely exposed.

And yet despite all this Derry still had a chance to draw level with the last shot of the game. In many ways it was a shame that the shot fell to Rogers as although he has the skill to convert that shot, and given his positioning he had to take the shot on, it was he that burst out of defence to create the chance. This after 75 minutes when there were players wilting all around and this was his first shot of the game. As mentioned he had to take it but I’ve no doubt the Derry sideline would have wished for someone else to be on the ball given the circumstances.

Kickouts

2 – 22 of the 3 – 38 scored on the day emanated from kickouts. With their quarter final against Galway on the horizon Tipperary will want to tighten up in this aspect. They lost 9 of their 22 kickouts but that total includes eight that went short. So of those that passed the 45m line they lost 64% (9 of 14) and managed to concede 2 – 04 from those nine losses. It is a rare day that your kickouts can be such a millstone and yet you come out the right side.

Clare v Roscommon 2016 AI Qualifiers

July 26, 2016

For those new to the blog, or who haven’t been here for a while, please find a refresher on the definitions and how the numbers are compiled here

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Clare 55 39 34 2 – 12 21.53
Roscommon 54 32 22 1 – 09 14.45

Combined the Expt Pts in this game was -5.98; the two teams scored six points less than an average intercounty team would be expected to score given the shots taken. It is going to be hard to take too many positives from a game with such numbers.

Clare Shooting

Clare’s shooting returns were poor with a Conversion Rate of just 41% (14 scores from 34 shots) and an Expt Pts tally of -3.53. Unfortunately for Clare no segmentation of the shooting shows a positive return
> Inside the 20m line; 42% (5 from 12) with an Expt Pts of -0.68
> Outside the 20m line; 36% (5 from 14) with an Expt Pts of -0.95
> Deadballs 50%; 50% (4 from 8) with an Expt Pts of -1.90

Undoubtedly there were some very poor misses – Cleary’s missed fisted point, a poor Ryan pass for Sexton in the first minute leading to a missed palmed effort – which Clare will hope to eradicate. And 12 shots from inside the 20m line is an indicator of their ability to create chances. But still that is poor.

This was our first Championship look at Clare (in the Division 3 league final they were more or less average with a 51% Conversion Rate and an Expt Pts tally if -0.99) so we cannot draw too many conclusions but they cannot be as profligate in the quarter final.

Kickouts

At a high level Clare won just 37% (17 of 46) of all kickouts and 63% of their own (12 from 19) with a net point difference of minus two points (Roscommon scored 0 – 06 from the kickouts they won with Clare similarly scoring 0 – 04).

Clare particularly struggled in this respect when playing against the wind in the first half. Seven first half kickouts travelled past the 45m line with Roscommon winning five; in the second half three went past the 45m line with Clare winning all three thus leaving Clare winning 50% of their own contestable kickouts.

They also had trouble with the short ones losing two of nine. They lost two short ones in the Kildare game as well. With limited data they appear to prefer the short kickout (60% of kickouts over the two games) but losing 15% (4 out of 27) is opening yourself up to potential disaster..

Roscommon

Roscommon had as many possessions as Clare but even given Clare’s very poor shooting Roscommon’s 0.22 points per possession was way below that of Clare. Indeed the 0.21 Mayo recorded against Galway was the only one worse this year.

The reason for such a poor return is twofold. Firstly Roscommon were anaemic in their efforts to get the ball in to Clare’s 45 with only 59% of their possessions ending up as an attack. This again was the second worst recorded this year behind Meath’s 57% against Dublin (as an aside the only other return below 70% was Galway’s against Mayo).

Secondly their shooting was also poor showing a Conversion Rate of 45% with an Expt Pts of -2.45. You can have low attacking volumes, or poor shooting, and survive. You cannot have both.

What struck me more than the shooting however was the way that Roscommon approached the game. The below picture shows the movement for Clare’s attack in the first minute.

PhotoGrid_1469349777236

I would have thought that Roscommon would be busting a gut to make amends after the Connacht final replay but Ryan’s pass and run are never tracked and Brennan is allowed to turn inside without a hand being laid on him thus drawing the cover and allowing Ryan in behind.

Now the question becomes is that a system issue (Smith should not be responsible for tracking a livewire like Ryan & Keenan did not have the strength for Brennan) or a player attitude/mental fatigue issue? That we cannot decipher but it was not the first time that this happened.

PhotoGrid_1469547131961

Above is the substitute McGrath taking a kickout in acres of space. Smith had just missed the goal chance in the 61st minute to bring the sides level. Roscommon’s tails were up and the Clare goalie had not rushed the kickout (32 seconds between Smith’s shot and the kickout). McGrath to be that open at that stage of the game is criminal. Roscommon were chasing the game so I can understand there being a lack of cover but even still for no one to lay a hand on him before taking a shot just outside the 20m line added injury to insult.

These were two incidents either end of the game. There were many more. It will be a long Winter for the Roscommon team.

Donegal v Tyrone 2016 Ulster

July 19, 2016

Styles make fights. If that is the case then, for 65 minutes, these were two counter punchers who warily circled each other with Donegal winning the first five rounds and Tyrone the next five. And then for some unknown reason they stood in the middle of the ring and threw the most spectacular haymakers at each other.

But that probably doesn’t do the flow of the game justice. Whilst Donegal were three points ahead at half time this was due, in the main, to Tyrone’s abysmal shooting.

First half

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Donegal 20 20 16 0 – 07 6.89
Tyrone 21 20 17 0 – 04 7.91

Donegal produced a below average Conversion Rate of 44% but were +0.11 ahead on Expt Pts. This was achieved by attempting difficult shots – two sideline balls from inside the 20m line anyone? – but converting enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over. MacNiallais nailed one from outside the 45 to add to Ryan McHugh’s three lovely righted footed efforts from out on the left. Indeed the best illustration of the difficulty of their shots can be seen in their shot chart (below) where they did not have a shot from play inside the 20m line.

Tyrone on the other hand were atrocious. It is not a word I would normally use but 0 – 04 from 17 attempts for a 24% Conversion Rate and an Expt Pt total of -3.91 is just that.

Tyrone had a nice mixture of shooting positions (four inside the 20m line, four close to or inside the D and nine
longer attempts but all inside the 45) but they had some very bad options in there; McNabb tight in the 1st minute, McShane basically a metre or two in from both the 45 and the sideline being prime examples. There was also some really poor execution; Mattie Donnelly’s pulled effort in the 23rd minute and Sludden’s central effort when under no pressure stand out in this regard. We can’t even attribute such poor returns to tenacious Donegal defending. From Tyrone’s 15 first half shots from play eight were charted as having no pressure applied to the shot.

It was just a complete systems malfunction epitomised by the fact that neither Harte nor Séan Cavanagh had a shot in the half.

And then the second half started

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Donegal 16 14 6 0 – 04 2.54
Tyrone 20 18 16 0 – 09 7.50

The complete systems malfunction transferred itself to Donegal. They only managed six shots in the entire half and went a full 30 minutes with just two shots attempted. Their paucity of shooting is best illustrated by the Expt Pts graph below. Just look at how flat their second half line is.

Don - Tyr Exp Pts blog version

As in the first half Donegal struggled to shoot from in close but this time there was no long range shooting to augment their poor returns. MacNiallais got another bomb from the 45 but that was it – the only other shots from more than 30metres were the two late Murphy frees and Eoin McHugh’s effort in the 50th minute. So what happened? Tyrone engaged Donegal closer to the 45 – epitomised by McMahon hounding McGrath back 20metres and then just turning around and running straight back into the goal – but Donegal also appeared to run out of ideas. Or employ a very, very risk averse shooting policy.

As part of an experiment I have been tracking how many individual player possessions there have been in every team possession. In the first half Donegal’s 20 team possessions averaged 7.7 player possessions. In the second half that jumped to 13.6 player possessions. Three separate moves had a player possession volume of 38, 29 & 24. That is a huge jump with some absurdly long periods of possession. But rather than an element of control it indicates inertia and a lack of decisiveness. Donegal continuously hand passed the ball outside Tyrone’s defensive shield but could not make an impression. For the record those three possessions with the high player possessions only produced one shot. Tyrone’s largest player volume was 13 with an average of 5.4

Tyrone’s finish

We will all be left with the memory of Tyrone’s final few shots but up until the 67th minute their shooting, whilst nowhere near as bad as the first half, was still below average. In that ~30 minute period they had a Conversion Rate of 45% (5 from 11) and an Expt Pts total of -0.59. And then they went, relatively speaking, berserk, scoring four from four. Harte & Cavanagh’s efforts were other worldly – as was Cavanagh’s earlier score from just outside the 20m line on the right touchline – but we must also remember that McCurry & McGeary were no more than five minutes on the pitch when they took their efforts.

To highlight just how good those four shots were – the average intercounty player would get four from four 2.5% of the time. And that’s without the added strain of the last few minutes in a tied Provincial final

Appendix

Shot Charts

Donegal’s shooting
Donegal shooting (V Tyrone 16)

Tyrone’s shooting
Tyrone shooting (V Donegal 16)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half, red = goal attempt

 

Players with >= 3 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Exp Pts
O MacNiallais (Donegal) 4 0 – 02 50% 1.72
S Cavanagh (Tyrone) 3 0 – 03 100% 1.50
C McShane (Tyrone) 3 0 – 01 33% 1.37
N Sludden (Tyrone) 3 0 – 01 33% 1.27
P Harte (Tyrone) 3 0 – 02 67% 1.21
R McHugh (Donegal) 3 0 – 03 100% 1.11
C McAlliskey (Tyrone) 3 0 – 00 0% 1.02

Galway v Roscommon 2016 Connacht final

July 13, 2016

For those new to the blog, or who haven’t been here for a while, please find a refresher on the definitions and how the numbers are compiled here

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Galway 50 39 27 0 – 13 12.81
Roscommon 49 38 22 1 – 10 11.17

Given the high scores Roscommon had racked up in their two Championship outings to date (01-15 against New York and 4-16 versus Sligo) it was somewhat surprising to see them produce five fewer shots than Galway. But we have to give the Galway defence some credit here. Yes the conditions on Sunday were atrocious but in their last three halves that defence has restricted the opposition to 9, 12 & 10 shots respectively for a combined Expt Pts of 16.36. That will not only keep you in games but win you a majority of them.

Attacking wise Galway are nothing if not consistent. Against Mayo they had 50 possessions with 25 shots and 13 scores. The goal the last day helped them outperform shooting wise (scoring 1-01 from your only two goal chances will do that) but here they produced an almost perfectly average display with a Conversion Rate of 48% and an Expt Pts return of +0.19. Perfectly average is in no way a slight given the conditions that those “average” returns were produced in.

Roscommon on the other hand had to overcome their relative lack of shots (as a point of reference they had 39 against Sligo and 33 against Kerry in the league semi-final) through accuracy with an Expt Pts return of +1.83. That statement is slightly misleading however as the positive return was entirely down to their goal (I say slightly as creating, and taking, goal chances is a huge skill in itself). When going for a point they were also bang on average with a Conversion Rate of 48% and an Expt Pts of +0.02.

Roscommon cannot rely on converting their only goal chance the next day. Their point taking has not been good enough to date (v Sligo their Conversion Rate was 52% with an Expt Pt of -0.02 when going for a point) to overcome another small shot volume – they need to create more opportunities. Galway on the other hand will look to continue doing what they do – produce average shooting displays, convert any goal chance that comes their way and play suffocating defence.

We saw in the Cavan Tyrone games that replays can take on an entirely different characteristic to the original game. Evidence to date suggests that Galway’s template is repeatable – can Roscommon “up it”?

Roscommon Kickouts

Roscommon had 21 kickouts winning 20 with the only loss being one that went over the sideline. It was surprising, from a number of aspects, to see Galway so passive on the Roscommon kickout. We know from previous games that the Roscommon kickout can take chances (end of the Monaghan league game, 3 kickouts picking wide open Sligo men the last day) and with the wind behind them in the second half I fully expected Galway to apply a full press and hem Roscommon in. Also Roscommon scored 1-08 from their short kickouts against Sligo. Galway should have been aware of their ability to use these possessions and tried to disrupt it – again here they scored 0-04.

Galway didn’t push up and indeed also gave Mayo the kickout. It is something they are obviously comfortable doing and, in the main, the results to date have borne fruit but you sense that their midfield would be better utilised by contesting long Roscommon kickouts which are obviously Roscommon’s least favoured option. The press would also force Roscommon to continue taking dicey short kickouts if they wished to avoid a midfield battle.

Roscommon’s anomalies

Attacking from deep
Roscommon’s attacking from deep was very poor. As noted above they scored 0 – 04 from 18 short kickouts (0.22 pts per possession) but were an abysmal 0-01 from 16 turnover possessions (0.06 pts per possession) that started inside their own 45m line.

Generally you would expect Galway to be more defensively set on the kickouts than the turnovers. Why did Roscommon struggle so much here? (There was a similar split against Sligo with Roscommon returning 0.61 pts per possession from their short kickouts and 0.40 pts from deep turnovers however that return from the kickouts was phenomenal rather than the attacking play from deep turnovers being poor)

I thought perhaps it may have had something to do with their slow build up play. The thinking being that they were set from kickouts and were used to the various player movements but that Galway’s defensive wall somehow stymied them on turnovers. Not so; there were on average 8.35 player touches per possession on their own kickout versus 9.60 for the deep turnovers. A gap yes – indicating slower build up play – but easily explained by the first recipient of the kickout being able to travel at least to half way.

It’s an odd one and given that there’s no simple explanation an area you would expect Roscommon to improve the next day simply by regressing to the mean.

Centrality of second half shooting

Roscommon point attempts from play
Roscommon shooting from play (v Gal)
x = missed, disc = score, black = 1st half from play (with wind), white = 2nd half (against wind)

The above chart shows Roscommon’s point attempts. Firstly we can see how clean Galway kept the sector immediately in front of goal. Secondly there is quite the variation by half in where Roscommon shot from. In the first half they were willing to launch the ball from difficult angles. In the second they were much more conservative whilst being poorer. From this juncture it is hard to tell if that second half conservatism was purely driven by the conditions or if it does indeed show a willingness to take the less certain shot on in such a close game.

What we can say is that there was no such divergence on Galway’s shooting. We need to acknowledge that they had the wind when the pressure was at its most intense in the second half but the lack of change is interesting in itself.

Galway point attempts from play
Galway shooting from play (v Ros)
x = missed, disc = score, black = 1st half from play (against wind), white = 2nd half (with wind)

Cavan v Tyrone 2016 Ulster

July 7, 2016

For those new to the blog, or who haven’t been here for a while, please find a refresher on the definitions and how the numbers are compiled here

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Cavan 59 51 38 2 – 17 21.28
Tyrone 54 45 33 5 – 18 22.83

It is not often that we will find a team take five more shots and end up being so comprehensively defeated. This is when context is required to ensure the game flow is taken into account. From the 68th minute onwards, when all intensity had left the game, Cavan scored 1 – 05 from 8 shots with a combined Expt Pts of +4.72.

In the original game the late goal helped Cavan outperform their Expt Pts whilst Tyrone’s shooting saw them return ~3 points below expected. Show the two games back to back and we begin to get a sense of just how much Tyrone dominated – not just in terms of total scores but also in Expt Pts.

140mins Expt Pts

Peter Harte

Harte had a great game scoring 2-04 from just the six shots producing an Expt Pts total of +4.40. Within those scores there was a free on his left, two points from play, with one off either foot, and three goal attempts returning 2-01. He was also on the shoulder form McAlliskey’s 3rd goal so, being unrealistically greedy, as good as his day was it could have been even better.

Still that accuracy was good enough to place his returns 4th overall since 2012 (>100 TV games in that span).

Harte

Cavan’s defending

Tyrone had six goal shots in the replay scoring 5-01. Generally speaking that is unrepeatable however more surprising than this level of accuracy was the fact that the goal attempts did not occur in the first game when they only produced the solitary McNulty attempt. Tyrone ran down the throat of Cavan but this “soft” center was identified in the Armagh game where on more than one occasion there were Armagh men standing on their own centrally in front of goal.

Tyrone’s Deadballs

There has been some commentary on how poor Tyrone’s free taking has been. Over the three games in this year’s Championship (the two against Cavan & Derry) they returned 0 – 10 from 18 deadballs with a combined Expt Pts of -3.67. We have 3 games from their 2015 run (the Ulster game against Donegal, the QF & SF from Croke Park) where they returned 1-13 from 21 attempts with a combined Expt Pts of +0.11

Their 2016 deadball performance has indeed been very poor but do we base our view on the most recent returns or smooth it out over time? Is the 2016 form natural variance due to small sample size or the manifestation of something more serious? Only time will categorically answer that one however it is fair to say that at best their deadball striking reaches average whilst on current form it is very poor.

dEADBALLS

Tyrone have used six different players to take deadballs in that six game span. Evidence would suggest that this chopping and changing is as a result of not having any great free taker – as opposed to the poor returns being as a result of the chopping and changing – however I am not sure why Séan Cavanagh was taken off the frees. Granted we do not have the games from their qualifier run last year however he was three form three against Donegal up in Ballybofey and hasn’t taken one in the five games since. It is worth remembering that he was 67% (16 of 24) with an Expt Pts tally of -0.04 during 2013 & 2014. Average yes but looking at Tyrone’s returns of late they would take average.

Donegal v Monaghan 2016 Ulster

June 28, 2016

For those new to the blog, or who haven’t been here for a while, please find a refresher on the definitions and how the numbers are compiled here

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Donegal 44 39 27 1 – 11 16.86
Monaghan 47 37 26 0 – 14 15.14

At a macro level the returns for both teams are very similar with just three possessions, 2 attacks & 1 shot separating them. Nothing untoward or unexpected given the recent history of these two teams. What did differ however was just how bad Donegal’s shooting was. It was much more erratic than Monaghan’s evidenced by the low conversion rate of 44% and leaving >2.5 points behind them.

Donegal managed to create three good goal opportunities through Gillespie, McBrearty and MacNiallais. Those goal attempts returned an Expt Pts tally of +0.43. Given this was a positive, and the overall return was a negative then Donegal’s point taking is shown up as poor, bordering on feeble. Donegal scored 0-10 from 24 point attempts (42% conversion rate) with a combined Expt Pts of -3.29. Their shooting from play was below average (38% with an Expt Pts of -0.62) but not terrible – it was their free taking that really let them down.

Before we turn to Donegal’s deadballs we need to touch on Monaghan. They will be very concerned with their last quarter as, after the red card in the ~55th minute, they only managed to create two shots more than Donegal and more worryingly they only created the one shot from play in those final 20 minutes.

Deadballs
McManus was outstanding from frees converting 78% (7 from 9) with an Expt Pts tally of +0.93. The raw numbers do not do justice to his performance however as his 6th and 7th points were both converted from outside the 45, in injury time, whilst one of the misses was basically on the 20m flag from the right with the right foot.

Possibly of more importance for Monaghan, looking towards the replay, was the 33% conversion rate of the supporting cast. Monaghan rely on deadballs more than any team so to see K Hughes & R Beggan miss their only free – both from the right as was one of McManus’s misses – will be of slight concern to Malachy O’Rourke and his management team.

Whatever concerns Monaghan may have in this area will pale into insignificance compared with those of Donegal. McBrearty & Murphy were 45% from 11 attempts and had a combined Expt Pts of –2.53. In such a tight encounter you cannot leave that many points behind you.

On raw returns McBrearty would escape much of the blame scoring 0-03 from his four attempts however the one he missed was on the top of the D and should be converted 70-80% of the time.

Murphy was very poor scoring 0-02 from 7 attempts. There are mitigating circumstances in that two of his misses were outside the 45m line whilst a third was just inside the 45 from wide on the left. Even if you were to be generous, and exclude these three attempts, his returns were 0-02 from four with an Expt Pts tally of -0.67. Include them and the Expt Pts tally rises to -2.12.

We know Murphy is better than that. History has shown us that he is an above average deadball striker. Donegal will need him to (re)find his accuracy in the replay.

Kickouts
Much was made of the kickouts – especially Donegal’s – at half time in the Sky coverage. The gist being that the fact they had lost 4 of their 12 first half kickouts (whereas Monaghan lost just one of their nine) showed a poor kickout strategy.

At the time I was a bit dismissive of this as Donegal had netted 0 – 03 (Donegal scored 0-04 from the 8 they won whilst Monaghan scored 0-01 from the 4 they won) from their own kickouts whilst Monaghan had scored 0-01. However when we look at shots created from kickout possessions it was level at 5 apiece at half time. Extend that out to the 70mins and Monaghan created 10 shots from the kickouts they won to Donegal’s 7.

The loss of Durcan does appear to have robbed Donegal of some of their subtlety on kickouts and what is easily decipherable can also be easily targeted.

The Goal
Finally a quick note on the goal. Donegal had just gone down to 14 men and this was the first Donegal possession after this. Timely indeed but given the game situation it was surprising to see MacNiallais in acres of space in front of goal.
 
Don goal v Mon 2016
 
As can be seen above MacNiallais got a helping hand to create this space. Fintan Kelly (18) was marking MacNiallais (9) whilst Gillespie was also being man marked. MacNiallais got free however as Gillespie managed to step across Kelly and “help” him to the ground thus freeing MacNiallais up and giving himself a yard on his marker to receive the ball.

As Ciaran McMonagle (@CiaranMcMonagle – a good follow) said on Twitter “illegal but clever”

Appendix

Shot Charts

Donegal’s shooting

Cavan shooting (V Armagh 16)

Monaghan’s shooting
Monaghan shooting (V Donegal 16)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half, red = goal attempt

Mayo v Galway 2016 Connacht

June 21, 2016

For those new to the blog, or who haven’t been here for a while, please find a refresher on the definitions and how the numbers are compiled here

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Mayo 56 44 29 0 – 12 15.20
Galway 50 32 25 1 – 12 10.99

As a whole Mayo’s shooting was very, very, poor returning 3 points less than would be expected. But even that does not tell the whole story.

Due to Jason Gibbons injury there were five extra minutes played at the end of the first half. During the last ten minutes of that half (from the 30th minute to half time) Mayo had nine possessions turning all nine into an attack and scoring 0 – 06 from 8 shots. A 10 minute blitzkrieg with an 89% Attack Rate, 88% Shot Rate, 75% Conversion and an Expt Pts return of +2.14. Essentially unstoppable. Either side of that 10 minute purple patch however was atrocious (or as Michael Lyster would say “wogious”. What a wonderful word!).

In the first 30 minutes Mayo had 20 possessions with an Attack Rate of 75% (15 of the 20) and a Shot Rate of 80% (12 of the 15). Both are in and around the average so nothing untoward there. However their shooting returned a paltry 17% (2 points from the 12 shots) and an Expt Pts tally of -4.15.

Galway’s defensive performance must be given some credit as apart from O’Connor’s first shot in the 3rd minute – that led to a pointed 45 – nothing from that first 30 minutes was from the central scoring zone. But even accounting for that you would have expected one, if not two, of the four uncontested shots that O’Connor & McLoughlin attempted to go over.

At least they were creating shooting opportunities in this period. In the second half Mayo had just nine shots at goal with one of those being almost an afterthought of an attempt from a sideline. Mayo managed just three shots from play all half with none after the 50th minute when they were chasing the game. As an aside Mayo did produce one half of football with less shots from play than this previously – the first half against Galway last year.

Mayo never managed a shot on goal either which, in the 20 Championship games I have for Mayo from 2012, is only the third time this has happened. The other two instances were also in Connacht games – 2014 against Roscommon and again last year’s outing against Galway. Looking at the 2015 game in light of this game, and specifically the poor shot volume and goal chance creation in both, maybe Galway just know a thing or two more about their near neighbour than we have given them credit for?

Galway

Galway also struggled to move the ball with only 64% of their possessions resulting in an attack. This was the 6th game completed so far in 2016 and for reference the other 10 returns were 76% & 77% (Derry – Tyrone), 84% & 80% (Cavan – Armagh), 86% & 70% (Monaghan – Down), 84% & 73% (Roscommon – Sligo), 83% & 77% (Dublin – Laois). 64% is a very poor return.

One of the reasons for such a poor Attack Rate was how and where Galway picked up the ball. Of their 50 possessions only 10 were picked up outside their own 65m line – 3 from Mayo kickouts, 6 from turnovers between the 65s and 1 from a shot that was re-gathered. By contrast Mayo picked up 21 such possessions (9 x Galway kickouts, 10 x turnovers received outside their own 65 & 2 x shots retrieved). Galway had much more to do with the ball to create an Attack.

Unless something dramatic happens it is easy to foresee something similar happening the next day against Roscommon. Roscommon will go short with their kickouts and Galway will let them have it. If Galway retreat as they did here, and try to turn over the ball once they engage Roscommon, they will again have to once again cover a lot of ground with the ball.

If you have a low attack rate then you had better have excellent production from what you do get. And Galway did just that – especially in the second half where they scored 1 – 06 from just 10 shots.

Like Mayo they had a very poor opening 20 minutes scoring 0 – 02 from 11 shots with a combined Expt Pts of -2.23. Thereafter however their shooting was immense; 1 – 10 from just 14 shots (a Conversion Rate of 79% which if sustained for 70 minutes would be one of the best recorded) and an Expt Pts tally of +6.44. Unlike Mayo they manufactured two good goal scoring opportunities taking 1 – 01 from them. Are these figures repeatable? Over an extended period of 5 or 6 games then you would have to emphatically say no but in a one off performance? Absolutely

Cillian O’Connor

A quick note on O’Connor’s day. My love for O’Connor – especially from deadballs – is well known but overall he did not have a good game here. His deadball striking was quite good hitting 6 from 8 (75%) with an Expt Pts return of +1.22. One of hi misses could be excused as it was a sideline attempt however the other was a surprising one – for him – from straight in front of the posts. Overall though his deadball striking was its usual self.
His shooting from play however was poor. He had five shots missing all five with three of those attempts not having any Galway defensive pressure applied.

Appendix

Shot Charts

Mayo’s shooting
Mayo shooting (V Galway 16)

Galway’s shooting
Galway shooting (V Mayo 16)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half, red = goal attempt

 

Players with >= 3 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Exp Pts
C O’Connor (Mayo) 5 0 – 00 0% 2.61
P Conroy (Galway) 5 0 – 02 40% 1.90
D Cummins (Galway) 3 0 – 01 33% 0.99
E Brannigan (Galway) 3 0 – 03 100% 1.07

The best free taker?

June 17, 2016

This piece originally appeared in the Examiner’s Championship pullout. I had intended to link to it but it does not appear to be online so I have reproduced it below

The dearth of GAA data can lead to some curious problems. Take measuring the best free takers for example.

Normally all we get in any match report is a list of the scorers and how many of those scores were from frees, 45s etc. Rarely will their scores be put in the context of how many shots they had, how hard these shots were etc. Is the best deadball exponent (although frees make up well in excess of 85% of all deadball attempts we really should introduce penalties & 45s into the conversation) the player that scores the most? The one that converts the most? Neither?

Conversion Rates

The below table shows the Conversion Rates for any player with a minimum of 30 recorded deadball attempts over the last four Championships

Player Shots Scores Conversion Rate
D Rock (Dublin) 33 28 85%
C McManus (Monaghan) 48 39 81%
C O’Connor (Mayo) 112 90 80%
B Brogan (Dublin) 49 38 78%
C McFadden (Donegal) 54 41 76%
D McCurry (Tyrone) 39 27 69%
M Murphy (Donegal) 85 57 67%
M Newman (Meath) 39 26 67%
E O’Flaherty (Kildare) 36 24 67%
B Sheehan (Kerry) 41 25 61%
S Cluxton (Dublin) 56 31 55%

In and of itself this is noteworthy. Many would have placed the likes of McManus & O’Connor at the top of the charts but the long range experts such as Sheehan & Cluxton, who would also have had their proponents, are lower down the rankings.

This does highlight an issue with using Conversion Rates as shot difficulty (both in distance & angle to the goal) is not taken into account. Of Cluxton’s 56 attempts a remarkable 71% (29 x 45s & 11 x frees) were taken from the 45m line or further out. As a point of comparison only 10% (4 x frees & 1 x 45) of McManus’s 48 attempts were taken from the same range. How does McManus’s 81% Conversion Rate stack up against Cluxton’s 55%? Would we say that McManus is that much better of a deadball striker?

Expected Points

By dividing the pitch into segments, and using the results of well over 1,400 attempts, we are able to show what percentage of deadballs are scored per segment. We use this percentage to create an Expected Points (Exp Pts) return – along the lines of Expected Goals for soccer – for every attempt. So if a free from a specific area is converted 60% of the time the Exp Pts = 0.6pts. Doing this for every deadball attempt then allows us to compare players on a more equal footing.

Player Shots Scores Conversion Rate Conversion Rate Rank Total Pts above Expected
C O’Connor 112 90 80% 3 +7.4
C McFadden 54 41 76% 5 +6.1
M Murphy 85 57 67% 7 +4.2
C McManus 48 39 81% 2 +4.0
D Rock 33 28 85% 1 +3.7
S Cluxton 56 31 55% 11 +2.1
B Sheehan 41 25 61% 10 +0.9
M Newman 39 26 67% 8 +0.7
D McCurry 39 27 69% 6 -0.3
B Brogan 49 38 78% 4 -2.2
E O’Flaherty 36 24 67% 9 -4.1

This shuffles the ranking somewhat. The aforementioned Cluxton & Sheehan rise up the leaderboard as the difficulty of their respective attempts is filtered in. We also see the reverse as players with higher Conversion Rates drop down the ranking – Rock & Brogan noticeably.

Brogan is interesting. He only attempted three free kicks in 2015 meaning that the majority of his returns were pre the emergence of Dean Rock. Looking at the above it is easy to see why the free taking duty was passed to Rock. Although Brogan’s Conversion Rate was high at 78% – placing him 4th overall – the negative Exp Pts shows that he was missing too many easy chances. Of his 48 attempts 22 (46%) came from inside the 20m line; and he missed five of those.

Not that Rock is without his issues. In 2013 & 2014 he was an excellent 92% (11 from 12) on frees though this tally was racked up late on in games where the result was never in doubt. He started 2015 in similar form converting 93% of his first 14 however he then tailed off in the later rounds missing three of his last seven against Mayo & Kerry. Dublin have not looked to cultivate a free taker during the league campaign, so they have faith in Rock, however we won’t know if his late 2015 misses were just a small sample size or something else. If it occurs late on again when the pressure is at its most intense will Dublin be able to switch? Brogan, whilst an able deputy, is no better than average whilst Cluxton only hit one from seven in the semi-final onwards last year after coming in cold.

Cillian O’Connor

One of the more noticeable aspects of the Exp Pts table is how Cillian O’Connor & Michael Murphy rise to the top. The argument can be made that the more attempts you have the easier it is to build up an Exp Pts tally – that of course ignores that the opposite is also true. The more attempts you have the greater the opportunity to regress to the mean.

That O’Connor has maintained such standards across multiple Championships is a remarkable feat. Even more so when you consider that the methodology does not account for the majority of his attempts occurring in high pressure games (Provincial finals, All Ireland semi-finals & finals) whilst also being a load bearing totem. He has taken 76% of Mayo’s deadball attempts switching from the left to the right as well as taking high pressure penalties and the majority of Mayo’s 45s.

O’Connor’s consistency is beyond reproach and it is this, alloyed to his proven accuracy, that surely gives him the title of “the best free taker”.

NOTE: Due to space limitations I wasn’t able to expand on certain points in the article. One I wanted to address was E O’Flaherty’s returns. The above paints him as a very poor free taker which is incorrect. He is in fact a very good free taker but within his wheelhouse. By that I mean between the two 20m lines and to the left of the goals. The problem was that for years Kildare did not have a left footed free taker – or a long range one for that matter – so he was being forced to take shots that other designated free takers did not.

Roscommon v Sligo 2016 Connacht

June 14, 2016

For those new to the blog, or who haven’t been here for a while, please find a refresher on the definitions and how the numbers are compiled here

Roscommon scoring 4-10 in the second half lends the game to the old “game of two halves” analysis. However whilst the scoreboard was lopsided in Sligo’s favour at half time (2 – 08 to 0 – 06) it was more a case of unsustainable Sligo accuracy – and no little profligacy from Roscommon – rather than anything in the game per se that created this gap.

1st Half

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Roscommon 27 21 15 0 – 06 10.64
Sligo 24 19 14 2 – 08 9.27

Roscommon had more attacks, one more shot and essentially easier shots than Sligo in that first half. I say easier as Roscommon had an Expt Pts value of ~1.5pts greater than Sligo despite only having that one extra shot. Scoring 2-08 from 14 shots, including 0-08 from 11 point attempts with 3 of those coming from outside the 45, will put a rosy tint on any game plan. But as can be seen from the above table, and the shot charts below, the signs were there. Sligo’s shooting was long range leading to lower Expt Pts. Roscommon’s was closer with 10 attempts from inside the 20m line. In a prelude to what happened in the second half Roscommon had three goal attempts. Unlike the second half they returned nothing from them.

2nd Half

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Roscommon 31 28 24 4 – 10 17.57
Sligo 21 14 11 0 – 05 5.71

Looking at the 2nd half numbers Sligo – shooting wise – did not fall off. They just returned slightly below what was expected. Where they did fall off was in ceding possession, and ultimately attacks, to Roscommon.

Roscommon had 10 more possessions in that second half and an incredible 14 more attacks. Sligo could not stop Roscommon coming at them in wave after wave. Sligo were at the very least co-authors in their own downfall through poor kick passing – I counted 8 kick passes (& 1 hand pass) going to a Roscommon man – and poor kickouts. Roscommon won seven of Sligo’s 18 kickouts in that second half. This was actually an improvement on the first half when Roscommon won six of Sligo’s nine kickouts. But again the signs were there.

Roscommon shooting

For all that Roscommon still had to use this possession. Their first half shooting was poor however in the second half they had a Dublin-esque seven shots on goal scoring 4-01. It was this that catapulted them ahead of Sligo as their point taking was average; 0-08 from 15 shots (53% Conversion Rate) with an Exp Pts tally of 7.14

We have been underestimating this Roscommon team all year but in the battles to come it is doubtful that they will have such a numerical advantage in terms of possessions & attacks. Can they continue to create this volume of goal attempts (10!! here)? If not can they up their point taking percentages which were average here (Conversion Rate of 48% and a total Exp Pts of -0.25)?

Kickouts

After the league semi final against Kerry I wrote the below paragraph

One final point to note on Roscommon is their short kickout routine. Short kickouts going astray is an occupational hazard for teams that employ the tactic but it was a short kickout that effectively cost them the game late on versus Monaghan and here again they found a Kerry man wiiiide open inside their own 45 on a short one (different keepers on both occasions). This doesn’t count the numerous instances that I visibly winced as a defender received the ball with the attackers bearing down on him.

Short kickouts are fine – and will go astray – but Roscommon seem to flirt with danger more than most.”

I was visibly wincing again here. Roscommon won 86% of their own kickouts however this was entirely due to the nature of those kickouts. The 18 they won all went short. They went past the 45 on three occasions and lost all three. Worse again all three went directly to a wiiiide open Sligo man who was immediately on the attack.

Those three losses happened in the first half in the midst of six shorts ones – two of which landed on Roscommon players under immense pressure. So when the battle was raging Roscommon lost three of their opening nine kickouts in alarming circumstances and won two in an incredibly dangerous fashion.

The flip side of this is that the remaining 12 passed off without any major incident helping them build the possession & attack momentum mentioned earlier. Roscommon scored 1-06 directly from those 12 possessions.

It is the eternal short kickout risk/reward conundrum. We have seen numerous instances of late where short kickouts have gone disastrously wrong. Roscommon play with the tiger’s tail more than most but yesterday it worked out once those early glitches were ironed out. But in games to come what happens when they get a full court press from the opposition? Will they continue to go short under pressure? Sligo got 0-02 here – will an early goal rattle them enough to change?

Roscommon’s kickouts, and what they do when they are confronted with a full press, is definitely one of those moments I am looking forward to in this year’s Championship.

Appendix

Shot Charts

Roscommon’s shooting

Roscommon shooting (V Sligo 16)

Sligo’s shooting
Sligo shooting (V Rocommon 16)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half, red = goal attempt

 

Players with >= 3 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Exp Pts
C Devaney (Roscommon) 7 0 – 03 43% 3.86
P Hughes (Sligo) 6 0 – 05 83% 2.28
D Shine (Roscommon) 5 0 – 02 40% 3.61
D Keenan (Roscommon) 4 0 – 03 75% 3.03
C Cregg (Roscommon) 4 0 – 00 0% 2.34
D Smith (Roscommon) 3 0 – 02 67% 2.63
N Murphy (Sligo) 3 0 – 02 67% 1.22