Posts Tagged ‘2015’

Big Fish Little Fish

November 30, 2015

2015 saw a number of very one sided games between the big 3 (Dublin, Kerry & Mayo) and the rest. Kerry’s shellacking of Kildare in the quarter finals. Dublin ripping through Leinster. Mayo destroying Sligo.

The blog, whether using weighting or expected points, has always used averages as a base. The more positive the weighting the better the team played when compared to the average. But these one sided beat downs must be affecting the averages. And if they are to what extent?

On top of just pure skill differentials there must also be something else happening in these games. How is it that a team like Kildare can beat Cork one week but lose heavily to Kerry the next? Do weaker counties play differently when facing the bigger teams? How do the big teams’ numbers compare when facing each other as opposed to the cannon fodder earlier in the Championship?

What is a Big Fish?

First we must define a big team. It would be very easy to just pick Dublin, Kerry & Mayo but we run into sample size issues when isolating games between similar teams. The semi-final replays of the last two years have helped but restricting “big teams” to the aforementioned three would leave us with only eight games over four years. To expand the big team pool all semi-finalists in any particular year are included (See Note 1 in the Appendix). This increases the volume of games between big teams to 14.

Shots Scores Success % Shots per game
non semi-finalist v non semi-finalist 465 323 69.5% 6.84
non semi-finalist v semi-finalist
non semi-finalist 358 241 67.3& 6.75
semi-finalist 365 257 70.4% 6.89
semi-finalist v semi-finalist 184 124 67.4% 6.57


The most remarkable aspect of this table is its blandness. No matter the game type the difference in volumes of deadballs per game, and the accuracy of those deadballs, is negligible.

In a way this makes sense as there is no real outside influence when you take a free (frees make up ~85% of all deadballs so in many ways the term deadball & free are interchangeable). It is just the player and the ball; the opposition cannot influence the outcome (See Note2 in the Appendix)

What is surprising is that in games between semi-finalists & non semi-finalists the volume of shots is the same. Yet we know that the volume of attacking play is heavily weighted in favour of the semi-finalists. In 12 games of this nature (semi-finalist v non semi-finalists) this year the semi-finalists averaged 41 attacks whilst the non semi-finalists averaged 32. The volume of deadballs has stayed steady over the years meaning that the semi-finalists gave up a deadball shot every ~4.7 attacks; the non semi-finalists were at ~6.1.

Now maybe this is due to better attacking play from the semi-finalists, enabling them to avoid getting caught in possession, but equally it could be the better teams fouling early to get back into position and/or stop a goal threat. Or maybe it’s just sympathetic referees in blow outs! But whatever the reason the better teams do foul at a higher rate when faced with inferior opposition.

For point from play

Shots Scores Success % Shots per game
non semi-finalist v non semi-finalist 1,214 544 44.8% 17.85
non semi-finalist v semi-finalist
non semi-finalist 847 338 39.9% 15.98
semi-finalist 1,156 598 51.7% 21.81
semi-finalist v semi-finalist 533 257 48.2% 19.04

The deadball overview may have been unremarkable – this is another beast entirely.

    Non Semi-Finalists

When playing each other non semi-finalists converted point attempts at 45%. This dropped to 40% when playing semi-finalists. The volume of shots also dropped by ~10%.

The deadball returns showed that all things being equal there are no real differences when comparing the various game types. Things are not equal here however as the opposition has a huge bearing on your returns.

But how does that manifest itself in terms of the reduced accuracy noted above? There are two main elements that have been tracked to date (there are others!) where the opposition can have an impact on your shooting – where the shot is taken from and whether the shot is taken under pressure.
Non semi-finalists’ % of all shots taken

Outside 45 4 5 6 7 8 9
v non semi-finalists 2% 24% 25% 16% 13% 11% 9%
v semi-finalist 3% 26% 23% 16% 14% 11% 8%

Nothing to see here. Irrespective of opponent non semi-finalists’ shooting tendencies remain constant. Remarkably so.
All teams – frequency & impact of pressure

Pressure applied Success % Pressure applied Success %
non semi-finalist v non semi-finalist 53% 42% 47% 48%
non semi-finalist v semi-finalist
non semi-finalist 57% 38% 43% 42%
semi-finalist 47% 48% 53% 55%
semi-finalist v semi-finalist 48% 43% 52% 53%

If the lower conversion rates are not due to shot location are they impacted by pressure? As expected semi-finalists do manage to pressure more shots than non semi-finalist in games between the two – 57% v 47%.

That however does not tell the whole story. “Pressure” is recorded as a binary “yes/no”. The *type* of pressure – be that multiple players, or tighter marking from better defenders – is not accounted for. That, on top of the mere presence of extra pressure, could easily be responsible for the drop in the overall Conversion Rate from 45% to 40%.

What’s really interesting though is what happens when there is no pressure applied. You would think, both from a logical standpoint as well as from the results observed in deadball situations, that the returns here would be similar irrespective of the opponent. There is no outside influence. But in contests against other non semi-finalists, where no pressure was applied, players had a return of 48%. In the same scenario against semi-finalists the return dropped to 42%. That’s a bigger drop off than when pressure is applied (see Note 3 in the Appendix)!


The fact that something “strange” is happening with non semi-finalists is further confirmed when we look at the semi-finalists. As expected there is little difference in the returns when no pressure is applied; against non semi-finalists they convert 55% and against other semi-finalists they convert 53%. The difference is well within any margin of error.

The earlier point re the type of pressure being different is also underlined. Semi-finalists, when facing non semi-finalists convert 48% of shots taken under pressure. Against other semi-finalists that becomes 42%. The assumption again being that the drop off is due to the *type* of pressure being applied by the better teams.
Goal Attempts

Shots Scores Success % Shots per team pts per attempt
non semi-finalist v non semi-finalist 141 55-16 39.0% 2.14 1.28
non semi-finalist v semi-finalist
non semi-finalist 118 31-12 26.3% 2.23 0.89
semi-finalist 219 96-14 43.8% 4.13 1.38
semi-finalist v semi-finalist 82 34-08 41.5% 2.93 1.34

The same patterns observed when attempting a point are observed when going for a goal.

For non semi-finalists the accuracy plummets as the opposition quality increases. For semi-finalists the accuracy is more or less maintained but they manage ~50% more goal attempts per game when facing non semi-finalists.
Based purely on point taking ability and volumes (we’ll take deadballs as a wash) the big fish of this piece have about a five point head start. That grows out to ~8.5 points once we bake in goal attempts. That is a huge gap to plug but the little fish of this piece are not helping themselves. Too many of their own shots are taken under pressure whilst they are also allowing their goal to come under siege. That’s not to mention malfunctioning when under no pressure. Nor the unedifying thought that they are not cynical enough and should be following the big fish’s lead and fouling more.
Note 1: The big fish are thus

2012 games; Cork, Donegal, Dublin & Mayo
2013 games; Dublin, Kerry, Mayo & Tyrone
2014 games; Donegal, Dublin, Kerry & Mayo
2015 games; Dublin, Kerry, Mayo & Tyrone

There is an argument to be made that the non semi-finalists – the “little fish” of the piece – needed to be further subdivided whether that be by league position, losing quarter finalists or some subjective manner. Lumping the Cork & Monaghans of this world in with the Leitrim & Longfords is not fully representative. This is accepted but again we run into sample size issues.

Still to be honest I nearly did it anyway so that I could use the “big fish”, “little fish” and “cardboard box” nomenclatures. Next time.

Note 2: Not strictly true I guess as the opposition can – in many cases – choose where to foul and thus impact the outcome of those frees. Where deadballs attempts originated from in games between semi-finalists & non semi-finalists are listed below.

Outside 45 4 5 6 7 8 9
v non semi-finalists 13% 18% 20% 18% 5% 19% 7%
v semi-finalist 10% 19% 25% 17% 6% 18% 5%


The semi-finalists do get more shots off from Sector5 whilst giving up more outside the 45. This could be used to support the “clever” fouling argument in that they are fouling earlier to protect the defence. It could also be the case that the weaker teams take whatever opportunity they get so have more long range attempts.

This is the only real difference however. Generally speaking teams foul in the same areas.

Note 3: The sample size here is robust (~950 shots) so the issue is real. Pressure is a nebulous thing – one man’s pressure is another’s lazy arm – so consistency in the definition could definitely be an issue. There is however only one source tracking the games so we have to assume there is consistency.

Other issues like game state (more pressure on shots in closer games), game type (semi-finalists by nature are meeting in bigger, more pressurised games) or pitch (shooting in Croke Park into the hill against the Dubs vs Clones perhaps) will all have an undetermined effect.


Dublin’s 2015 Goal Attempts

November 18, 2015

Dublin have always gone for goal at a higher rate than other teams. Things were no different in 2015. They made up 13% of the competitors in the 26 games recorded but were responsible for 23% of all goal attempts. The attempts were not scattergun either as at a Conversion Rate of 53% (18 from 34) they maintained the average whilst attempting much more than anyone else. So is there anything we can learn by reviewing their 2015 attempts?


Where do Dublin’s goal attempts originate from?

19 came from possession gained on a kickout; nine from their own and ten on the opposition’s. 13 attempts came from turnover ball with the remaining two coming from Dublin shots that went astray – both from Brian Fenton incidentally (McManamon’s scramble against Mayo in the drawn game & Fenton’s cross shot – in the replay – that was guided in by Brogan).

What was noticeable just watching the goals back to back was the speed at which Dublin break. Of the thirteen turnovers that produced an attempt nine began inside their own 45. Add these to the nine from their own kickout and that is 53% (18 from 34) of their goal attempts starting from a position that the opposition should be in a position to defend.

But it’s the speed of transition that does for teams. The average for these 18 attempts, from gaining possession to taking a shot, is 20.3 seconds and 5.4 passes. We have nothing to compare this to but next time you are watching an intercounty side gain the ball inside the 45 count to 20 seconds (or 5 passes) and you will soon see how quick that is. And that is the average!

Dublin will not be that quick with every turnover, or kickout won, but the intent is always there. And when it is on they go. This is where McCaffrey’s transition speed, and Kilkenny’s accurate foot passing in the middle third, are hugely beneficial.

Speed of transition is further emphasised by the ten attempts generated off the opposition’s kickouts. Again they will not always be this quick but the first recipient has his head up looking for the forward ball. On the ten attempts the average time elapsed was 11.4 seconds incorporating 4.2 passes.


Below are the outcomes of the 32 attempts from play; the original 34 included two penalties that were converted.

Goal attempts (2015) working

There are two things to the above. The first is the very nice cluster of goals Dublin had on the edge of the small square. The second is to note that this reflects a mixture of individual accuracy as well as team play. Of the 32 goal attempts five are fisted whilst another four are scrambles where the ball shot was instinctive rather than planned.

It says a lot about Dublin’s general attacking intent, and support play, that there are players in a position to fist the ball in or to be the first onto these scrambles. But if we are trying to decipher the Dublin players’ accuracy we need to remove these. Below is what the goal attempt chart looks like with these nine removed. A much reduced return of 35% on 23 shots.

Goal attempts (2015) no scrambles

The more I do this, and the more granular data we get our hands on, the more obvious it becomes that averages hide a lot. So any outcomes – whether it be weightings or Expected Points – used on the blog needs to be always challenged. In the last four years 36% of all goal shots were converted but what proportion of those attempts were fisted? Under pressure? Scrambles? Is 36% a fair representation of shot accuracy?

Post script – anything else on the Dublin shots?

• Thirteen different players had a shot at goal across the seven games
• It is hard to say from the camera angles how many were on target but only 1 of the 32 attempts from play went wide. Three were blocked, six saved, 1 hit the post, 4 went for a point whilst another was diverted in (the aforementioned Brogan toe poke on Fenton’s cross shot)
• Outside of the goal McMahon bundled into the net against Mayo he took two further shots. And scored a point with both – keep the ball down Philly
• Excluding fisted attempts & scrambles (the 23 attempts in the second chart above) only six (26%) were attempted under any form of defensive pressure

2015 Season Review – Part II

November 10, 2015

In Part I it was observed how the volume of shots dropped from the 2014 high of 30.9 a game back to 27.8 in 2015 (in line with previous averages from 2012 & 2013). With the quantity down was the quality affected? Yes – but in a positive manner.

The overall accuracy on all shots increased. Between 2012 and 2014 (3 years, 74 games and 4,246 shots) 51.2% of shots were converted with little year-on-year variance; 51.7% in 2012, 50.5% in 2013 and 51.3% in 2014.

2015 saw a 5.2% increase on this three year average to 53.8% (26 games & 1,446 shots). Like the deadball increase observed in 2014 (more on that below) I would be loath to read too much into one year’s worth of data however it is a noteworthy movement given (a) the size of the jump and (b) the fact that there was a jump at all after the steadiness of the previous three years.

So how was this increase achieved? Shots are broken down into three main constituent parts; deadballs account for 26% of all shots, goal attempts account for 9% with the remaining 65% coming from attempts for a point from play. The 2015 returns for all three are reviewed below.

Shots Scores Success Rate
2012 347 232 66.9%
2013 389 259 66.6%
2014 328 239 72.9%
2015 347 240 69.2%

One of the main findings from the 2014 review – expanded upon here – was the fact that deadball accuracy jumped after three years of remarkable consistency (although not shown in the above table the 2010 season had a Success Rate of 66.3%).

Whilst that increase was not sustained in 2015 the overall returns were still very good in a historical context. To be of an average intercounty standard your team needs to convert 70% of deadballs assuming a normal spread of distances & type.

So how is this 70% achieved?

Shots Scores Success Rate
Frees 304 215 70.7%
45s 34 19 55.9%
Penalties 7 6 85.7%
Sidelines 2 0 0%


Only 47 penalty & sideline attempts have been charted since 2012; much too low a number to make any concrete conclusions on. [As an aside 83% of the penalties were converted and 28% of sideline attempts]

The number of 45s converted continues on its upward curve (40% Success Rate in 2012, 50% in 2013, 52% in 2014 and now 56%) to give an overall average of 49.4% over the four years. This increase has little effect on the overall deadball Success Rates however as 45s only account for ~12% of all deadballs.

So that leaves free kicks. As ever with deadballs it is free kicks where the real movement happens. They account for ~85% of all deadball attempts (and 21% of all shots in total).

In 2014 the Success Rate for free kicks jumped to 76% from 70% & 71% the two previous years. There was no real trend as to why this was except to say that accuracy improved across the park. This year? That accuracy dropped back to 70% – bang in line with previous norms. Hello regression to the mean.
From play – for a point
Two thirds of all shots are attempts at a point for play. Though the Success Rates in the other shot types are important a team’s bread and butter can be found here.

Shots Scores Success Rate per game
2012 887 419 47.2% 17.74
2013 888 397 44.7% 17.76
2014 1012 453 44.8% 21.08
2015 963 468 48.6% 18.52


2015 saw a drop of ~2.5 shots per game which, though dramatic, is still ~0.75 shots higher than observed in 2012 & 2013. This lower volume did produce a higher quality however with a Success Rate of 48.6%. That is a ~8% increase on the previous two years.

Although there was a similar return in 2012 I had a look at where the shots originated to see if there was any discernible change in pattern (more shots from easier sectors). There wasn’t – if anything there were less shots from the easiest sector – Sector8 – just in front of goal.

Sector Outside 45 4 5 6 7 8 9
’12 – ’14 2% 23% 24% 17% 12& 13% 9%
2015 1% 24% 24% 18% 13% 11% 9%

Seeing as the ease of shot hasn’t changed the conclusion is that the quality haS increased. Ignoring shots taken from outside the 45 – which only account for ~2% of all shots – the Success Rate increased for all sectors bar Sector5 which remained stable.

Sector Outside 45 4 5 6 7 8 9
’12 – ’14 37% 37% 50% 35% 42& 71% 46%
2015 27% 43% 49% 41% 47% 75% 52%

From play – for a goal
The first thing to note is that the prevalence of goal attempts has not changed in any real sense. In 2015 goal attempts made up 9.4% of all shots; it was 9.6% the two previous years.

What has changed, and in truth has been a noticeable trend since 2012, is the accuracy of these goal attempts. In 2012 a score (a goal or a point) was returned from 39% of goal attempts. This has risen year on year to 52% in 2015. When we only include goals as a score (probably a more accurate measure of goal attempts!) there is still a noticeable upward trend.

Shots Scores Success Rate per game
2012 117 40 34.2% 2.34
2013 136 44 32.4% 2.72
2014 142 52 36.6% 2.96
2015 136 56 41.2% 2.62


Teams are getting more scores, and more goals, from their goal attempts.

So there you have it. An overall increase fuelled by better accuracy from play – both in point & goal attempts – though the increase was somewhat dampened by a drop in free kick accuracy.
Do Dublin, given the volumes they achieved during the year, have an overbearing affect?

The answer is probably in the question – of course they do. Taking goals only Dublin scored 16 on 32 attempts in 2015 meaning that the remainder of teams converted at a 38.5% clip. In 2014 Dublin only converted 28% (9 from 32) with the remainder returning 39%. Whilst not wholly reliant on Dublin’s returns (Mayo put 6 past Sligo whilst Kerry put 7 past Kildare) the fact that they have been responsible for 24% of all goal attempts means that the year on year increase has followed their outcomes.

Similarly when going for a point Dublin converted 57.3% on 17% of all attempts recorded with all other teams converting 46.8%. It is not just Dublin here however as Mayo converted 56.7%.

We use averages as a starting point as, with a large enough sample size, these “outliers” will be subsumed by the whole. However when viewing the Grade A teams (Dublin, Mayo, Kerry) a premium needs to be added to the average when reviewing their play whilst Grade B teams – those trying to break through (Cork, Tyrone, Galway) – need to aim far higher than the average.

2015 Season Review – Part I

October 29, 2015

Reviewing the major statistics – Attacks, Attack Rates, Shots, Shot Rates & shooting accuracy – from the season just gone, and comparing them to previous seasons, has become a staple of the blog. We do it for two main reason; the first to see if there are any major trends, or indeed areas of complete randomness, jumping out whilst the second opens a window on any elements we should be taking a closer look at.

We tracked where attacks originated for the first time in 2014. This was extended in 2015 to cover all possessions. This enables us to have a complete picture of an average (see NOTE 1 below) Championship game. How often teams have the ball, where those possessions emanate from and what they do with them.

Given this expansion I am going to split the review into two parts; below concentrates on everything up to shooting whilst the second piece (due soon!) will focus on shooting trends and accuracy. So without further ado here are the overall returns up to the point of shooting


Year Possessions Attacks Attack Rate Shots Shot Rate
2012 35.3 27.0 76.6
2013 36.3 28.3 77.8%
2014 39.8 30.9 77.5%
2015 49.7 36.8 74.0% 27.8 75.7%
avg 37.0 28.5 76.9%


Possessions volumes & origination

How a possession is defined is expanded upon within the definitions page but essentially a possession starts with gaining “control” (see Note2 below) of the ball and ends with either a shot or the opposition gaining control of the ball (a turnover). For the sake of this piece all turnovers are equal – whether forced or otherwise – with the only defining characteristic being where on the pitch control of the ball was obtained.

On average a team has the ball ~50 times (49.69 to be exact!) a game. This has always seemed low to me – essentially 2 possessions every 3 minutes allowing for injury time. I guess it emphasises the need to squeeze the most out of each possession though as ever we must be wary of averages. Especially averages built on one year’s data.

Where this single piece of information may be of most use is when chasing (or defending) a lead with “x” minutes to go. You can extrapolate how many possessions you’ll have; how many shots; what you need to break your way; go for points or when to push the “go for goals” button. Game endings can take on a life of their own but knowing you’ll have 10 possession in the last 15 minutes gives you a good starting point.

Where the possessions emanated from are listed below


Possession Origination # % all possessions
Own kickout 16.0 32%
Opp Kickout 6.9 14%
T/over own 3rd 17.2 35%
T/over mid 3rd 6.1 12%
T/over opp 3rd 0.9 2%
Other 2.6 5%

Essentially one third of all possessions come from a team’s own kickout, one third comes from ball gained inside a team’s own 45 with the remaining third spread across the game. There is huge emphasis placed on kickouts – both your own and the opposition’s – but teams get as much ball up to the opposition’s 65 from broken play as they do from kickouts. Do teams place as much emphasis in moving the ball, or defending counter attacks, as they do on kickouts? Does the general commentary? I’m as guilty as anyone. Tracking kickouts is easy but how (and why?) teams are able to move the ball in broken play is every bit as important.

Attack & Shot Rates

Last year we saw a spike in attacks; rising 11% from 35.80 in the two previous years to 39.83 in 2014. At the time quite a bit of the increase was being attributed to the black card (well the numbers weren’t used in the wider commentary – it was more the black card being acclaimed for leading to open play) however here on the blog judgement was reserved. The black card was part of the reason but it could as easily have been a one year outlier as much as anything.

That reticence seems well founded now as the 2015 average attack numbers have dropped back to 2013 levels. Looking across the four years a team will create an average of 37.0 attacks and, using 2015 data only, 74% of all possessions end up as an attack.

From 2012 to 2014 the average number of shots per game rose from 27.0 to 30.9 – a 14% increase. Over that time there had been a rise in shot rates but nowhere near the 14%. Instead the increase in shots had risen in line with the volume of attacks (with a small bounce from increased efficiency as the shot rate went from 76.6% to 77.5%).

In 2015 the number of shots per game dropped ~10%. As we can see from the above this is to be expected when the number of attacks drops but on top of the drop off in attacks there was also a drop off in the shot rate. For the first time in four years the Shot Rate came in below 76%. Again this is one of those movements that is probably more of a blip, or general randomness, but it is still worth monitoring. The sample size – 1,446 shots in 2015 & 4,246 in the previous three years – is robust.

So there we have it. On average a team has 50 possessions a gam converting 74% of those possessions to an attack and 77% of those attacks to a shot leaving a total of 28.5 shots a game. What teams do with those shots will be expanded up in Pasrt2 of the review.

Note1: Averages hide a lot and the fact that Dublin have been the pre-eminent attacking team in the period that these returns cover (probably involved in ~20% – 25% of all games) will have an effect. There is definitely scope for rerunning these numbers with/without Dublin and also in games completely excluding Dublin (or even Croke Park for that matter).

Note2; Control, and where it starts and ends, can be a very subjective thing. I tend to veer away from subjectivity – though to start to expand and add value I am going to have to dip my toe in that water (more of that anon) – however here I would estimate that ~98% of the time who is in control of a ball is obvious. The other 2%? I guess we’ll just have to go with it ….

Dublin V Kerry 2015 All Ireland Final

September 23, 2015

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 Attack % Shots Shot % Scores Success % Weighting
Dublin 58 42 72% 27 64% 12 44% -1.146
Kerry 58 33 57% 23 70% 9 39% -1.388
Avg 37.0 28.7 77.7% 14.7 51.2%

Generally poor accuracy (accepting the poor conditions) from both teams but in very different ways. Dublin had four goal chances but came up empty handed on all four occasions whilst they were just 50% (4 from 8) on their deadballs. Nearly all of Kerry’s shooting on the other hand was for points from play as they were unable to carve out a clear-cut goal chance whilst Dublin only allowed them three deadball attempts.

Although Dublin had more shots the makeup of those (more goal & deadball) attempts mean that when we run the shots taken through 20,000 simulations we see that Dublin win 90% of the time. The margin may have been small but the overall result was absolutely fair.


Shots from Play

Team Shots Scores Success % Weighting
Dublin 18 8 44% +0.340
Kerry 20 8 40% -0.896
Avgs 21.4 9.7 45.3%

As has been the case all year Dublin’s point taking was excellent. They were 57% (8 from 14) with a weighting of +1.69. Put another way their shooting yielded about 1.5 points above what would be expected from an average team.

What was surprising was, as stated, they didn’t score a goal and it was their poor returns from the goal attempts that dragged their overall returns down. To date Dublin had manufactured a score on 73% of their goal chances. Here they had the four attempts with nothing to show from them.

Kerry didn’t once manage to get a strike on goal but they did have a glorious opportunity towards the end when Killian Young fluffed a pass.

Kerry goal chance v Dublin

Dublin, and particularly Flynn & Connolly completely switched off allowing Young & Galvin to drift in behind after Donaghy won the throw in. What they were thinking – with Donaghy in a jump ball on the square and Kerry down by three points – we’ll never know. They *had* to get goal side in that scenario.

So all 20 of Kerry’s attempts from play were point attempts with their returns coming in below average. It wasn’t quite last year’s terrible shooting but they needed to do better with the opportunities they had. Between them Geaney, O’Donoghue & Darran O’Sullivan were 7 from 11 (64%) with a weighting of +1.746. The poor returns cannot be laid at their door. Instead it was the supporting cast who went 1 from 9 (11%) with a weighting of -2.642. Cooper didn’t manage one shot. Nor did Donaghy.

In the second half, when Kerry needed something – anything – the only players, outside the aforementioned trio, to even attempt a shot were Sheehan & Lyne. Two players & two shots.

Shots from deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success % Weighting
S Cluxton (Dublin) 4 1 25% -0.617
D Rock (Dublin) 2 2 100% +0.577
B Brogan (Dublin) 2 1 50% -0.626
D Connolly (Dublin) 1 1 0% -0.820
B Sheehan (Kerry) 2 1 50% +0.002
J O’Donoghue (Kerry) 2 1 50% -0.494
team avgs 7.2 4.9 68.7%

A poor day all told with a combined return of 42% from 12 attempts and a weighting of -1.978. Part of that poor return can be explained by the shot charts below. Truth be told only four of those 12 were central with the other eight coming on the periphery. Yes on average we would expect three to be converted instead of just the one but the conditions were atrocious.

Cluxton landed that single strike from the periphery but it is hard to be too critical on his three misses given the difficulty of the remainder. Still he was one from seven (14%) over the past three games and, looking forward to the 2016 season, with Rock struggling on the longer range efforts towards the end of the campaign it is one very effective weapon that is misfiring for Dublin.

Dublin’s defending was superb. In the two semi-finals Mayo had a combined 17 shots from deadballs but here Dublin only gave up two frees inside the 45 with the second one coming in the last minute. Absolutely outstanding work from the team as a whole encapsulated by a quick sequence from Jonny Cooper. He leaves his man to meet an onrushing Walsh; bottles him up without fouling but when Geaney rounds O’Carroll from the subsequent melee Cooper gets back to dispossess him. Great tenacity & skill

Cooper defending v Kerry

A special mention for Bernard Brogan here. He hasn’t attempted a free all year and in a close game, played in those conditions, he steps up in the second half. It wasn’t as if he had gained momentum from his play earlier in the game as he had only attempted the one shot prior to taking on the free taking duties. He just had the innate confidence, and steel of will, to do it. Now his second free from wide on the left shows why he hadn’t been on the frees but that’s another day’s conversation!


Dublin’s kickouts Won % Turned into an attack % Shot %
Dublin 12 63% 7 58% 3 25%
Kerry 7 37% 6 86% 5 710%
Kerry’s kickouts Won % Turned into an attack % Shot %
Dublin 8 33% 6 75% 5 63%
Kerry 16 67% 9 56% 6 38%

Much focus prior to the game, and in the commentary during it, was placed on Dublin’s kickouts. However Dublin did as well on Kerry’s kickouts as Kerry did on theirs.

Kerry went short on 5 of their last 6 kickouts as (a) they sought to secure primary possession in an attempt to claw their way back into the game but also (b) due to intense Dublin pressure. Prior to those last five 17 of the 18 kickouts travelled past the 45 with Kerry winning the possession battle 9-8 however 6 of Dublin’s wins came in the second half (prior to Kerry switching to the short kickouts. Dublin were lording Kerry’s kickouts in that 3rd quarter.

Kerry did undoubtedly cause Cluxton all sorts of trouble on the kickouts but the efforts involved in shutting down Dublin’s options are encapsulated in the fact that Kerry won the first short kickout at the start of each half but thereafter Dublin, despite the Kerry pressure, got their hands on seven of the remaining eight short kickouts. Now winning 3 of 10 short kickouts is no mean feat – and is probably the highest forced by any team on Dublin – but it is taxing.

As the game went on James McCarthy became a favoured, and reliable, target. He was on the receiving end of four of the last six kickouts winning three – the one he lost was due to the ball going over the side-line so that loss would be harsh to place solely at his door!

When Dublin did go past the 45 they overcame the vaunted Kerry middle winning the possession battle 5 – 4. Paul Flynn was a huge factor in this. Four of those nine kickouts landed on him with Dublin winning three of those.


Team giving up the ball Pass In the Tackle Shot Other
Dublin 17 7 2 6
Kerry 17 11 2 6

Although the volume of misplaced passes was the same watching the game you got the sense that Kerry’s radar was just off. Of their 17 passes that went astray 10 were into players that were marked – essentially 50:50 balls on a wet, slippery day. All the defender needs to do is get his hand in. The main man here was Johnny Cooper. I have him tagged for six turnovers including five on James O’Donoghue.

But on many occasions the ball in itself wasn’t great. Yes Dublin’s man marking (and effective sweeping when Donaghy came on) was very efficient but the pass could have been better. Of those 10 contested passes nine were delivered by a player under no pressure. Kerry were just off as exemplified by two exchanges between O’Donoghue & Geaney early on.

JOD to Geaney;Dublin - Kerry

In the first instance above Geaney sees the space and directs O’Donoghue. His placement however is poor completely missing the space and instead looping the ball up with the outside of the foot for the Dublin back to attack.

Geaney to JOD;  Kerry-Dublin

Similarly in the above O’Donoghue is in space but the ball in from Geaney is short allowing the Dublin back to again attack. There were many examples throughout the game where better Kerry execution would have given the inside players a better chance.

Shot Charts

Dublin’s shooting
Dublin shooting (V Kerry Final 15)

Kerry’s shooting
Kerry shooting (V Dublin Final 15)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half from play,

Players with >= 3 shots from play

Shots Scores Success % Weighting
J O’Donoghue (Kerry) 5 3 60% +0.723
Darran O’Sullivan (Kerry) 3 2 67% +0.544
P Geaney (Kerry) 3 2 67% +0.479
P Flynn (Dublin) 3 2 67% +0.204
B Brogan (Dublin) 3 1 33% -0.184

All Ireland Preview – Kerry

September 17, 2015

In the first piece we looked at what Dublin have done with the ball this year and in turn what we can expect from them in the final. Now we turn to Kerry. One point to note is that unlike Dublin, where we have a fairly well set pattern of play, Kerry’s four televised games have been quite dispirit; the drawn Cork game was in a downpour, the quarter final against Kildare was a non-event and the semi-final was played against a defensive wall. Kerry’s numbers are, I believe, much more open to interpretation than Dublin’s.

Possessions & Attack Rate

Team Possessions Attacks Attack % Shots Shot % Scores Success % Weighting
v Tyrone 51 43 84% 31 72% 18 58% +1.71
v Kildare 60 43 72% 33 77% 23 70% +8.86
v Cork – replay 52 34 65% 24 71% 12 50% -0.17
v Cork 41 32 78% 26 81% 17 65% +4.05
Avg 51.0 38.0 75% 28.5 75% 17.5 61% +3.61

Kerry have averaged 51 possessions over their four games but that has swung wildly from 41 in the rain affected drawn game with Cork to 60 in the hammering of Kildare. It would be nice to have a wider sample size (or even a small stable one) but the volume of possessions is something that we only begun to chart this year. What Kerry have done is won the possession battle in each game – 1 (v Cork – drawn game), 3 (v Cork – replay), 11 (v Kildare) & 6 (v Tyrone).

Dublin have allowed an average of 49 possessions in their six games and have also managed not to lose the possession battle in any of them – 18 (v Longford), 2 (v Kildare), 16 (v Westmeath), 4 (v Fermanagh), 0 (v Mayo) & 5 (v Mayo – replay). Something will have to give.

The problem is that we don’t really have enough data points to make a concrete prediction but with an average of 51, and Dublin coughing up 49, the 50 to 51 range (Mayo achieved 51 possessions in the drawn game against Dublin) would appear to be in reach.

So how do Kerry give themselves the best opportunity to create possession superiority? My belief is that they cannot play a high intensity game as that is Dublin’s natural habitat and the looser the game the more shots Dublin’s forwards will get. Kerry will look to use their footballing abilities to reduce turnover volumes and stem Dublin’s possessions; the one boon that Kerry will have in this area is their ability to hold on to the ball and not give up turnovers. In the drawn Cork game Kerry went 25 minutes giving up just the one turnover; in the second half of last year’s final they only coughed up six turnovers – one of which was a shot.

So whilst the 50/51 possessions is achievable I think it will be more in the 47/48 range as Kerry look to control the game’s tempo.

Kerry have converted 75% of their possessions into an attack. Against Tyrone that return was 84% but that was against a team which withdrew into a defensive shield behind the 45. Their returns in the other three games were 78%, 65% and 72%.

Dublin allow the opposition to convert 79% of their possessions into an attack which is quite a bit higher than Kerry’s average – especially if we remove the Tyrone game. Assuming Kerry try to control the tempo by holding the ball, an Attack Rate close to 80% should be achievable. High yes but the Tyrone & Kildare games shows it is well within reach as do the Dublin returns and the expected “keep ball” mentality.

So we have Kerry tagged for 48 possessions and an 80% attack rate which equates to 38 attacks.

Shot Rate & Shot Conversion

Kerry have manufactured a shot on 75% of their attacks with Dublin allowing the opposition to get a shot 79% of the time. Again assuming Kerry play “keep ball” an argument could be made that Kerry’s shot rate will be closer to the 79% than the 75% as they constantly probe looking for an opening. We’ll plump for 78%.

So that gives us 30 shots (48 possessions * 80% Attack Rate * 78% Shot Rate) which isn’t out of line with previous games – 31 (v Tyrone) & 33 (v Kildare) – but is higher than they have averaged (28.5) this year. As a counter Kerry averaged 32.8 shots per game in their 2014 campaign.

Kerry’s shot ratio has been 67% point attempts, 21% deadball attempts & 12% goal attempts. Stretch that across 30 shots and you get 20 shots from play, 6 deadball attempts and 4 goal shots

Shot Type

Kerry have had a Success Rate of 67% (18 from 24) from deadballs with a combined weighting of +3.04. A 67% Success Rate is bang on average, and thus nothing to hang your hat on, but the weighting indicates that the frees they have converted were in fact quite difficult. Using an expected points model they have scored 0 – 03 more from deadballs than would be expected.

Unlike Dublin Kerry are well served here with O’Donoghue, P Geaney & Cooper all able to take close in frees, or deputise, for Sheehan whilst Moran can try some long range bombs if required.

Six deadball attempts fits in with Dublin’s pattern of play as well. To date their opposition has attempted 39 shots, 6.5 a game, from a free or a 45. This includes the drawn Mayo game where they were undoubtedly spooked by A O’Shea’s physicality and gave away eight scoreable frees (& a penalty) to a renowned free taker. I point this out because Dublin will be well aware of Kerry’s prowess with the deadball – as they were with O’Connor – but it may not matter if their undisciplined streak reappears.

Goal attempts
Using this year’s averages we are crediting Kerry with getting four shots at goal. To date they have averaged 3.5 per game however that average includes the Kildare game where they manufactured eight goal shots. In the two Cork games they created 4 & 2 goal chances respectively whilst they didn’t have a shot at goal in the semi-final. This might give rise for concern except that when we broaden the sample size, to include the 2014 season, we see that four is in fact their average over the last two seasons; in 2014 their attempts at goal were 4, 4, 3, 5 & 4.

Dublin have only allowed eight goal attempts all year which at 1.33 a game, is far removed from the four that we are expecting from Kerry. Undoubtedly the opposition’s set up has played into that low return – Westmeath & Longford didn’t have one attempt between them – but still; four could be a stretch

Point attempts
Overall Kerry’s point taking has been very good; a 55% Success Rate (42 from 76) with a combined weighting of +6.63. Unlike Dublin they do not have any stellar performers with different players stepping forward in different games; P Geaney in the semi-final & S O’Brien in the quarter final for example. The problem is the Jekyll & Hyde nature of their returns with poor shooting in the Cork replay, average returns against Tyrone and excellent to stellar performances in the drawn Cork game and the Kildare QF. We had something similar in last year’s final when, despite winning, Kerry were a paltry 17% (4 from 23) with a weighting of -5.603 when going for a point from play. Needless to say that cannot be repeated.


So pulling it all together. Kerry will score 0 – 05 from their six deadballs. At 83% that is much higher than their current rate but I expect the majority of Dublin’s fouls to be committed in closer to goal. As stated four goal shots will be a stretch. After writing a paragraph explaining why it *can* be four I am going to give Kerry three goal attempts with them converting the average of ~34%.

That leaves 21 point attempts. Although Kerry are currently running at a 55% Success Rate that can be clipped down to the ~52% range on account of the occasion and the fact that the 55% includes the non entity of a game against Kildare.

So there you have it. Kerry score 1 – 16 and we have a draw (Dublin’s predicted score is 2-13). What it show more than anything however is the very tight margins involved in this game where a percentage or two swing, in any number of categories, could be the difference.

All Ireland Preview – Dublin

September 16, 2015

A preview by review. Looking at the games played thus far this year can we disseminate how often Dublin (and following on Kerry) will get on the ball and what they will do with it?

Possessions & Attack Rate

Team Possessions Attacks Attack % Shots Shot % Scores Success % Weighting
v Mayo – replay 50 39 78% 30 77% 18 60% +4.01
v Mayo 51 27 53% 24 89% 14 58% +3.06
v Fermanagh 59 48 81% 38 79% 25 66% +7.65
v Westmeath 65 52 80% 38 73% 15 39% -2.72
v Kildare 49 41 84% 36 88% 23 64% +6.08
v Longford 67 48 72% 39 81% 29 74% +10.30
Avg 56.8 42.5 75% 34.2 80% 20.7 60% +4.73

In their six games to date Dublin have averaged 57 possessions though they were restricted to 50 & 51 when they met a Grade A opponent in Mayo.

Kerry have allowed the opposition an average of 46 possessions (45, 49, 49 & 40) this year with the two largest volumes coming in games when they were well on top; the inference being that they dropped off the pace when those games were won. Given the fact that Mayo “restricted” Dublin to 50 & 51 possessions it is hard to see Dublin gaining more than 51 against a team that is offering up 46 on average.

As for attacks? Dublin have managed to create an attack from 75% of their possessions. This metric has been relatively stable – returns of 72%, 84%, 80%, 81%, 53% & 78% – with the one major aberration coming against Mayo in the drawn game.

It can be strongly argued that the 53% attack rate in the drawn semi-final was due mainly to Mayo’s tactic of falling off the short kickouts. Dublin did however adapt in the replay. After seeing Dublin overcome the “dropping off” tactic will Kerry push up? I think they will and whilst Dublin may lose some of their own kickouts as a result the trade-off will be an “easier” transition to attack for those they do win.

Over their four games Kerry have allowed the opposition to progress 70% of their possessions into an attack with the highest being 78% (both Tyrone and Kildare managed this).

Taking all that on board we’ll plump for 48 Dublin possessions – (we will explore why this will be lower against Kerry than it was against Mayo in the upcoming Kerry piece) and an attack rate of 77%. The 77% is above both the Dublin & Kerry averages but if we exclude the 53% in the first Mayo game – which appears to be an aberration – Dublin’s average is 79% whilst two lesser attacks in Kildare & Tyrone managed 78% against Kerry.

This gives us an expected 37 attacks

Shot Rate & Shot Conversion

Dublin have been very consistent at manufacturing a shot from their attacks. They have averaged an 80% Shot Rate over the six games with only the Westmeath game, when they faced an ultra-defensive setup, showing a return less than 77%. Kerry have been consistent themselves in what they have allowed – 81%, 71%, 74% & 71% – but they will not have met as slick an attacking setup as Dublin.

We will give a nod to Kerry’s defensive abilities by suggesting an attack rate below what Dublin have averaged thus far however given Dublin’s consistency we can’t go too low. I would predict a Shot Rate in the region of 77%. From the 37 attacks predicted above that would be 28 shots in total (48 possessions * 77% Attack Rate * 77% Shot Rate)

28 may seem on the high side given that Kerry have allowed 25, 28, 20 & 22 in their four games broadcasted this year however in the 2013 game between these two teams Dublin managed 32 shots and their returns from the past two seasons prior to the Mayo games were 42, 45, 48, 43, 38, 39, 36, 38 & 38

28 is very conservative.

Shot Type

There are three main shot categories; deadballs, attempts at goal and attempts for points.


The average number of deadball attempts per game over the past three seasons is 7; Dublin are running at four a game this year – 4, 4, 5, 3, 5 & 4. Up until the two semi-finals Dean Rock was superb converting 93% (13 from 14) however in the two Mayo games both he and Dublin hit a wall.

In those two games Dublin were 33% (3 from 9) with a combined weighting of -2.019. Rock missed his only attempt in the drawn game and also missed two longer range ones in the replay. Cluxton missed three in the drawn game. This has to be Galvin’s biggest decision. Were Cluxton’s three misses a blip or symptomatic of why Rock was given the free taking duties all year? Given that Rock only managed one shot from play in the 90 minutes he was on the pitch against Mayo can he be “carried” if his deadball accuracy is off? Is his efficiency over Cluxton, Connolly or Brogan really that important – in the context of a 70 minute game – if you are only going to manufacture 4/5 shots?

Goal attempts

Dublin live and breathe goals but they have been a lot more selective when going for them this year. In 2013 & 2014 27% of all of Dublin’s shots from play were a goal attempt. 27%!!! They were averaging 6.6 attempts a game. This year those numbers are 17% and 5.0 attempts a game however what they have done is improved their efficiency no end. The average Success Rate on goal attempts is ~34%. Dublin have converted 60% of their goal attempts this year. Throw in those attempts that they got a point from and they have gotten a score from 73% (18 – 04 from 30 attempts).
Whilst they have been less gung-ho in their attempts they have more than compensated for this with their clinical finishing.

Point attempts

Dublin forwards

Dublin’s combined stat line when going for a point in this year’s Championship is a 57% Success Rate (0-86 from 150 attempts) with a combined weighting of +19.2. Or put another way the shots Dublin have attempted would have yielded 0 – 67 for an average team – their shooting has been sublime.

Bernard Brogan has been the chief architect however seven of the eight main forwards are returning positive returns with the exception being Paul Flynn. Much comment has been passed on Flynn’s form this year but his shooting, outside everything else, is definitely off. In ’13 & ’14 combined he was 62% (18 from 29) with a weighting of +5.74.

Part of the counter argument against reading too much into Dublin’s accuracy is that they meet no one in Leinster and as such their numbers are inflated by non-competitive games. This has some validity to it however the returns for the two Mayo games show a Success Rate of 59% (23 from 39) with a combined weighting of +6.66. They were as good against Mayo as they had been in the four games leading up to that.

So going on previous outings the split of the 28 shots will be 4 deadballs, 5 goal shots and 19 point attempts. Dublin will convert 52% of their point attempts and 40% of the goal chances – below their averages to date as a nod to Kerry’s defensive abilities – and convert three of their four deadballs leaving us with a final score of 2-13.

Dublin V Mayo 2015 All Ireland SF Replay

September 8, 2015

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 Attack % Shots Shot % Scores Success % Weighting
Dublin 50 39 78% 30 77% 18 60% +4.010
Mayo 45 26 58% 22 85% 15 68% +2.959
Avg 37.0 28.7 77.7% 14.7 51.2%

Once again brilliant accuracy from Dublin. Last week that accuracy enabled them to draw a game where they produced six shots less than Mayo; here that accuracy was maintained on a higher shot count thus enabling them to win comfortably (on the scoreboard at least).

One major shift in the numbers, from the first encounter, was Dublin’s ability to move the ball into Mayo’s 45. The previous week Dublin had 51 possessions but only manufactured 27 attacks; a 53% Attack Rate. They had to be ruthlessly efficient in their shot selection and finishing. Here, as a percentage, they were unable to produce the same volume of shots from their attacks – 77% shot rate versus 89% the last day – but the huge increase in the volume of attacks overcame this. It wasn’t just in the second half either when the introduction of McManamon & MacAuley brought new attacking impetus. Both halves’ returns, 72% in the first & 86% in the second, were well ahead of the 53% recorded previously.

What of Mayo? Last week we showed their half splits to highlight just how much they improved in the second half. Here we show them for exactly the opposite reason.

Team Possessions Attacks Attack % Shots Shot % Scores Success % Weighting
1st Half 28 17 61% 15 88% 10 67% +1.988
2nd Half 17 9 53% 7 78% 5 71% +0.971

Mayo only managed nine attacks in the second half and despite their shooting holding up (78% Shot Rate & 71% Accuracy) they were never going to be able to overcome such a paucity of attacks; especially against a team like Dublin. Over the four halves Mayo’s volume of attacks to Dublin’s was +3, +9, -4 & -9. For three quarters of this tie they were ahead on the attack volume but Dublin’s accuracy was keeping them in step. Once Mayo’s attack volume dropped off that was the game.

Shots from Play

Team Shots Scores Success % Weighting
Dublin 26 16 62% +4.644
Mayo 15 9 60% +2.173
Avgs 21.4 9.7 45.3%

The last day Dublin scored two goals from three attempts. Although Dublin’s conversion rate on goal shots has been high all year the thinking was that Mayo would be happy with that; restricting Dublin’s goal shots is half the battle and eventually their production would regress to the mean.

So much for that. Dublin had five shots at goal and scored 3 – 01. The only shot not to produce something was Fenton’s pull across the box that Brogan converted. By contrast Mayo created just the one goal attempt which O’Connor converted. Although it was one defensive lapse over 70 minutes that goal will have given the on looking Eamon Fitzmaurice some food for thought. It really was poor defending from Dublin.

Mayo goal v Dublin

O’Carroll has O’Connor covered however he has to come out and meet Moran due to some very poor tackling from Cooper & O’Sullivan. Moran should never be allowed turn in that scenario – you can see O’Donoghue, or Cooper, meeting a similar ball and spinning on a sixpence.

Some of the point taking in the first half was sublime with the teams combining for a 65% Success Rate – the average on point attempts is ~45%. As can be seen from the shot charts below though there were very different patterns in their shooting. 7 of Dublin’s 12 point attempts came from inside the 20m line; only 3 of Mayo’s 11 point attempts were taken that close in.

One final difference was who took Dublin’s shots. Andrews was sublime – and deserved of the man of the match accolade – but the last day Dublin’s backs only had one shot (6% of 18 attempts) between them. Here they had six (23% of 26 attempts) with McCarthy & McCaffrey chipping in alongside McMahon’s four attempts.

Shots from deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success % Weighting
D Rock (Mayo) 4 2 50% -0.634
C O’Connor (Mayo) 6 5 83% +0.722
A Moran (Mayo) 1 1 100% +0.064
team avgs 7.2 4.9 68.7%

Another excellent display from O’Connor. Over the two games he converted 94% of his deadball attempts with his only miss coming in this game from an absolute hit and hope about 55m out. Of the 0-15 he scored the expected return was 0-12; his deadball accuracy added 3 points to Mayo’s total. After what was an average campaign, for him, leading up to the semi-final (15 from 21 combined in the Galway, Sligo & Donegal games) he has once again established himself as the top deadball proponent in the game.

Dean Rock by contrast has struggled. Here he converted the two that he would have been expected to get however missed two longer range efforts to go with the one he missed in the drawn game. His record for the year is still very strong at 85% (29 from 34) but his reputation has, undoubtedly, suffered.

Finally much was made of Dublin’s indiscipline the last day giving away 10 frees within scoring range. There was a stage in the first half where you feared the same thing was about to happen when two quick frees were conceded with 13m tagged on to both for indiscipline. The defence did well to regain their collective composure; having the steadying influence of O’Carroll, and releasing McMahon & McCarthy forward, undoubtedly played in to this.


Dublin’s kickouts Won % Turned into an attack % Shot %
Dublin 17 94% 13 76% 12 71%
Mayo 1 6% 1 100% 0 0%
Mayo’s kickouts Won % Turned into an attack % Shot %
Dublin 6 25% 6 100% 4 67%
Mayo 18 75% 12 67% 10 56%

In the first game Mayo managed to get their hands on six of Dublin’s kickouts. Here there was only the one. Mayo let Dublin have the short kickouts despite the fact that they won 4 of the 6 Dublin kickouts that went past the 45 the last day. The one they won in this game was the only one to travel past the 45.

Mayo were content to let Dublin go short as they believed they could turn over the ball carrier once engaged. In many ways that worked the first day as Dublin scored a net 0-03 from the 16 short kickouts. The problem here however was that Dublin adapted. Of the 17 short kickouts Dublin “won” they got a shot from 12 of the possessions and scored 1 – 07. In the first half that stat line was 0 – 06 off 8 shots from 12 short kickouts. Mayo needed to switch tactics early once they realised their containment policy wasn’t working.

In the first half Mayo went short on six kickouts scoring 0 – 02. Of the remaining seven – that landed past the 45 – Mayo were on top winning five and scoring 0 – 02. So in the first half Mayo won their own kickout 11 – 2 and scored 0 – 04. Not as prolific as Dublin but they were undoubtedly in control. So what happened in the second half?

Mayo went short with their first kickout and then went long & mid with the next two. Dublin won the long kickout. A sign maybe *but* given Mayo’s dominance of the contestable kickouts in the first half, and the first game, not alarming. Next Barry Moran goes off just before a Mayo kickout that led to Brogan’s goal. Should Moran’s absence have given Hennelly pause about going down the middle? Perhaps but again Mayo, in the round, were in control of their own kickouts.

More important than the absence of Moran, or previous returns, though was the fact that Hennelly wasn’t set for that kickout. He was messing with his laces and gloves and was rushed – to the extent that he only had one glove on when he took the kickout – by a combination of the crowd/referee. He was distracted and seems to have taken the old fashioned approach of booting the ball as far away as possible.

Now the kickout itself wasn’t to blame for the goal but it did appear to rattle Hennelly – supposition I know but did he take some responsibility for rushing the kickout? We’ll never know but what we saw next was Connolly getting a quick shot from Hennelly’s subsequent kickout followed by another long kickout that Dublin won – and that led to McMahon’s goal.

Two goals and a Connolly wide from three Mayo kickouts in ~90 seconds.


Team giving up the ball Pass In the Tackle Shot Other
Dublin 10 8 5 2
Mayo 16 4 4 2

In the drawn game we highlighted how two midfielders – S O’Shea and Fenton – had led the way with six and four each. Remarkably O’Shea managed to top the charts again here with five turnovers despite only being on the pitch for 38 minutes.

Fenton was much improved with just the one turnover attributed to him. Top of the charts for Dublin was Andrews but I’m sure he’ll be forgiven. Less so next on the list. I noted Rock as being responsible for four turnovers. Given his relative lack of success from frees, and the fact that he only managed to attempt one shot from play over the near 90 minutes he was on the pitch, he really needed a cleaner game going in to the final

Shot Charts

Dublin’s shooting
Dublin shooting (V Mayo SF replay 15)

Mayo’s shooting
Mayo shooting (V Dublin SF replay 15) V2
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half from play,

Players with >= 3 shots from play

Shots Scores Success % Weighting
P Andrews (Dublin) 6 5 83% +2.314
P McMahon (Dublin) 4 3 75% +0.739
K McLoughlin (Mayo) 4 1 25% -0.827
B Brogan (Dublin) 3 2 67% +0.853
C Kilkenny (Dublin) 3 2 67% +0.745

Dublin V Mayo 2015 All Ireland SF

September 1, 2015

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 Attack % Shots Shot % Scores Success % Weighting
Dublin 51 27 53% 24 89% 14 58% +3.059
Mayo 51 39 76% 30 77% 16 53% -0.262
Avg 37.0 28.7 77.7% 14.7 51.2%

Overall the teams had the same volume of possession and ended up with the same total but that’s where the similarities end. The destination may have been the same but the journey was completely different. Dublin relied on shooting excellence from play to convert a lower than normal number of shots whilst Mayo‘s returns were built on O’Connor’s deadball excellence. The graph below gives a sense of how much Dublin outperformed their expected return – and how Mayo were in line with their expected return for much of the game.

Expected Pointsv2

Dublin struggled mightily to get on the ball inside Mayo’s 45. In their four games to date their attack rate was 72%, 84%, 80% & 81%. Here Mayo restricted them to a measly 53%. Dublin were very good at getting shots off (89%) and their shooting, as highlighted above, was excellent, but they will need to move the ball a lot more efficiently the next day.

What of Mayo? Their half splits are below

Team Possessions Attacks Attack % Shots Shot % Scores Success % Weighting
1st Half 24 17 71% 10 59% 7 70% +0.518
2nd Half 27 22 81% 20 91% 9 45% -0.780

We can see that their second half was much better than the first except in accuracy but that is an anomaly based on the mixture of shots. In the first half Mayo only had four shots from play with Keegan’s first minute point the only one to register. The excellent first half accuracy (70%) is due to the volume of frees they had in relation to the paucity of the shots from play. As their volume of shots from play increased in the second half so the accuracy dropped.

There was also a huge increase in Shot Rate in the second half. Only twice in 22 attacks did they fail to manufacture a shot (now there is an argument to be made about some of the shots but that’s another day’s work). Undoubtedly the game plan changed as they went to a more natural running & pressing game but there was also a lot more control. In the first half Mayo coughed up 16 turnovers including 8 passes; in the second half that was 10 turnovers with just 3 misplaced passes.

Shots from Play

Team Shots Scores Success % Weighting
Dublin 18 12 67% +4.272
Mayo 20 6 30% -2.677
Avgs 21.4 9.7 45.3%

As noted above Mayo were very poor at creating chances in the first half managing just the four shots from play and converting one. In the second half they were much more productive with 16 shots however they only converted 31%. Within those 16 shots there was a spell at the start of the half where seven out of eight attempts were missed.

A poor day out all told which also included no clear cut goal shot manufactured from play (Moran’s shot was off a Cluxton error whilst O’Connor’s blasted left footed effort was from a quick free).

Dublin? They were excellent scoring 1-11 from 18 shots (67% Conversion Rate with a weighting of +4.272). One notable point from Dublin’s shooting was that only one of the 16 point attempts came from a back – the last conversion from McCaffrey.

Despite the high score Mayo will probably be encouraged by their defensive display. 18 shots is very low for Dublin; in the previous four games they manufactured 35, 33, 32 & 35. Of more importance was how they restricted Dublin’s goal attempts. There were three in total with two coming from the one incident.

Dublin have converted their goal chances at an abnormal rate this year (avg is ~31%, Dublin are running in the high 50 percentile). They did so again here converting two of the three goal attempts however if Mayo restrict them to just three goal shots the next day you would expect a regression.

Shots from deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success % Weighting
C O’Connor (Mayo) 10 10 100% +2.415
D Connolly (Dublin) 2 2 100% +0.561
S Cluxton (Dublin) 3 0 0% -1.290
D Rock (Dublin) 1 1 0% -0.474
team avgs 7.2 4.9 68.7%

Dublin’s fouling was dumb. That may seem harsh but there is no other word for it. Many a Dublin supporter will complain that the frees were niggly, or the Mayo man went to ground easily or ….. you get the picture. But playing the conditions is a fundamental part of any sport and after the 3rd free Dublin were on notice – from both the referee and O’Connor’s accuracy. But it wasn’t just during the game – Dublin were forewarned of O’Connor’s accuracy (see here). He was by far the most prolific, and accurate, deadball striker over the past three years.

The fouling was across the team. I noted who committed the foul for O’Connor’s 8 pointed frees and the sequence was McCarthy, Fitzsimons, McCarthy, McMahon, O’Sullivan, McCarthy, McMahon & MacAuley. McCarthy & McMahon were the main culprits but when you throw in Connolly’s foul on McLoughlin (when O’Connor took a quick one) that’s six different players giving away fouls in scoreable range.

As indicated above O’Connor is a master deadball striker but what was most impressive in this game were the two he converted outside his comfort zone. The 45 was taken right after Dublin’s 2nd goal – ice in the veins – whilst the last one was on the outer limits of his range. He can push for power when outside his comfort zone so in those circumstances – outside his range and the battle raging – that was a brilliant conversion.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will have probably seen a chart I forwarded with Rock’s deadballs since the league SF. He was at a ridiculous 93% on 29 attempts including 3 from 3 on 45s. So what does he do here? Misses his only attempt – typical.

So with Rock off the free taking duties fell to Connolly & Cluxton. Connolly hit a wonderful one with the right from a very similar position to the last attempt that Cluxton missed. *If* there was no red card given before the free would he have taken it? Especially with Cluxton having missed his previous two.

Cluxton’s three are a mystery. Undoubtedly the frees were difficult but you’d expect him to get at least one. Up until this season he was the only player to match O’Connor’s accuracy when the difficulty of the attempt was factored in. Then he gets overtaken by Rock. Were the three misses as a result of being “cold” in games this year – or more indicative of why Rock has taken over? The answer to that will probably be given when the team is announced for the replay.


Dublin’s kickouts Won % Turned into an attack % Shot %
Dublin 17 74% 11 65% 9 53%
Mayo 6 26% 6 100% 6 100%
Mayo’s kickouts Won % Turned into an attack % Shot %
Dublin 5 23% 3 60% 2 40%
Mayo 17 77% 10 59% 8 47%

Dublin went short on 18 kickouts losing two. The two they lost were both converted by Mayo into points including that last minute equaliser.

Of the 16 they won Dublin converted those possessions into 8 shots and scored 1-05. You can’t really isolate one kickout from the others but let’s anyway. The move that led to the Dublin penalty originated from a kickout possession however there was a pause in the move when a free kick was awarded. It could be argued that pause indicated that it was not a kickout “move” but a goal that emanated from open play (I’m stretching to make a point I know). Would Mayo take a net 0 – 03 from ~20 kickouts the next day? You bet they would.

Of the five that travelled past the 45 Mayo won four including two in those frantic last ten minutes. Mayo didn’t score from any of the four but it will definitely give Dublin pause for thought the next day. If Mayo push up on the short ones there may be more space in the middle but Connolly is out and Mayo won the majority of non short kickouts.

Mayo went short on 11 of their kickouts winning them all. They manufactured six shots and scored 0 – 03 from those possessions. Of the other 11 that travelled past the 45 Mayo won the possession battle 6 – 5.


Team giving up the ball Pass In the Tackle Shot Other
Dublin 16 7 1 3
Mayo 11 8 5 2

The top two individual players were two midfielders; I noted Fenton as being responsible for six turnovers whilst S O‘Shea was down for four. The six for Fenton, including five passes, will give Gavin pause for thought for the replay given how poor Dublin were at moving the ball into attack. Were these a “one off” or was it due to the nature of the game? Will Fenton be more careful with the ball the next day and would that inhibit him?

One of Mayo’s strengths is undoubtedly their forwards ability to tackle the opposition. Against Cork in last year’s quarter final they scored 1-05 from turnover’s inside the opposition’s 65. They had six such turnovers here (four of them through tackles) but only managed to get one point. They will look to improve on this return come the replay.

Shot Charts

Dublin’s shooting
Dublin shooting (V Mayo 15 SF)

Mayo’s shooting
Mayo shooting (V Dublin SF 15)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half from play,

Players with >= 3 shots from play

Shots Scores Success % Weighting
A Moran (Mayo) 5 2 40% -0.42
C Kilkenny (Dublin) 4 3 75% +1.082
B Brogan (Dublin) 3 2 67% 0.885
D O’Connor (Mayo) 3 1 33% -0.165

Kerry V Tyrone 2015 All Ireland SF

August 24, 2015

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 Attack % Shots Shot % Scores Success % Weighting
Kerry 51 43 84% 31 72% 18 58% +1.711
Tyrone 45 35 78% 25 71% 12 48% +0.734
Avg 37.0 28.7 77.7% 14.7 51.2%

In a nutshell Kerry were able to manufacture more shots and convert their shots into a score at a higher rate.
Kerry’s Shot Rate at 72% is lower than the average but it was on course to be quite problematic in the first half.

With Donaghy on the pitch Kerry engineered 14 shots from 24 attacks for a 58% Shot Rate; in the second half, with Geaney in, that rose to 89% (17 shots from 19 attacks). Whilst that dramatic rise cannot all be laid at Donaghy’s feet the impetus to kick it in long, to a packed defence, was removed when he was taken out of the equation.

Within Tyrone’s lower Success Rate there are three separate components – deadballs, goal shots and attempts for a point.

Tyrone had five attempts at a goal scoring 1 – 01 – or a 40% Success Rate. On deadballs they were 43% – both of which dragged down the attempts at a point which was an excellent 57%.

Shots from Play

Team Shots Scores Success % Weighting
Kerry 24 12 50% +0.661
Tyrone 18 9 50% +1.610
Avgs 21.4 9.7 45.3%

Kerry did not manufacture a shot at goal but that won’t unduly worry them. They can play a multitude of styles and are usually very good at finding the right one.

Their point taking was average here but that is a boon when compared to the All Ireland final when they last met a hugely defensive team in the Championship – that day they were 17% (!!) on point attempts.

Considering O’Donoghue was out of sorts from play (0 from 3), and Cooper was more or less tied up (1 shot all game), it will be heartening to the management that at various times during the game the “second” tier stood up; Buckley was 3 from 3 in the first 10 minutes, O’Brien then convert 2 from 3 in the next 15 minutes – finally Geaney came off the bench to attempt four shots.

Pity the Tyrone defence. You keep Cooper, Donaghy & O’Donoghue to 0 – 02 from a mere six attempts over 175 minutes … and still let in 0 – 12 from play.

When we exclude the four goal chances we can see that Tyrone’s point taking conversion rate was excellent at 57% (0 – 08 from 14 attempts) with a weighting of +2.336. It is not that they failed to take their chances; they failed to take their goal chances.

Why two of those goal chances were not taken is reviewed in more detail below but all four came from straight, hard running down the middle. If you turn over Kerry (admittedly not always an easy thing) in the middle 3rd your first thought should be a direct run at goal. O’Connor’s goal in the drawn Munster Final was also the result of direct running.


Marc O’Sé is credited with a wonderful block on McAlliskey to stop the first goal attempt. Without doubt it was executed perfectly but he should never have been allowed to get into that position. In the top picture Harte has the cover beaten – he needs to drive straight and commit O’Sé before shooting or offloading. Instead he shows pass all the way staring down McAlliskey and holding the ball in a striking action – queues that allow O’Sé to drift back. When a pass is finally given it is high & loopy allowing O’Sé further time.


For the second goal attempt it is almost a role reversal. McAlliskey does everything right up until the final act; he drives towards goal committing the last defender and burning his trailing marker. In this instance he needs to give the ball to McCurry for an easy fisted goal (think Flynn across to the back post for Brogan). Instead he shoots.

Fine margins for sure but when you are the underdog these are the moments on which results turn.

Shots from deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success % Weighting
J O’Donoghue (Kerry) 5 4 80% +0.823
C Cooper (Kerry) 1 1 100% +0.163
P Geaney (Kerry) 1 1 100% +0.064
D McCurry (Tyrone) 4 1 25% -1.315
N Morgan (Tyrone) 2 1 50% +0.257
P Harte (Tyrone) 1 1 100% +0.182
team avgs 7.2 4.9 68.7%

Perhaps the best way of summarising Kerry’s deadball outing is that Sheehan was not missed. They converted 86% (6 from 7) of their attempts for a combined weighting of +1.05. Geaney & Cooper popped over relatively easy frees so the majority of the weighting can be attributed to O’Donoghue. He converted one in close to goal but other than that he was 3 from 4 from around the 45 – equivalent to 0.5pts above expected.

Looking forward to the final it will be interesting to see what Kerry do were Sheehan to be on the bench and the long range frees come from the other side – O’Donoghue’s right. Moran & Buckley both attempted long range efforts in 2014 – would they be given the ball? Buckley’s 3rd point was a free on the 45 which was taken quickly; Tyrone should have been alert to this possibility of a quick one (with no Sheehan) but is it a precursor?

Morgan hit one stunner from the sideline then missed one from c50m – the kind of inconsistency you expect from multiple long range efforts – whilst Harte’s penalty was converted with aplomb.

McCurry had a hard day at the office but much of that was due to Kerry’s excellent defence. Only one of his four attempts was given within a comfortable scoring range – the three McCurry missed were out to the side or long range. Yes he should have converted one, if not two, but he never got his eye in on a simple chance due to Kerry’s defensive discipline.


Kerry’s kickouts Won % Turned into an attack % Shot %
Kerry 16 76% 11 69% 6 38%
Tyrone 5 24% 4 80% 3 60%
Tyrone’s kickouts Won % Turned into an attack % Shot %
Kerry 8 31% 8 100% 5 63%
Tyrone 18 69% 14 78% 10 56%

Where to start. Firstly much has been made of the short kickout as a strategy. As a strategy it is fine – see results from 2013 – however it needs to be executed properly. A lot of the issues for Tyrone on the short kickouts was poor execution (both from the goalkeeper and those looking to receive the ball).

Tyrone lost three of their short kickouts whilst another three that went past the 45 were also lost (two went straight to a Kerry shirt). From those 6 kickouts Kerry scored 0 – 02 whilst Tyrone scored 0 – 04 from the 12 they won inside the 65. Not ideal by any means – but not disastrous either. You get the sense that the difficulties were more mental – a key area wasn’t functioning so the panic alarms started to sound.

Of course what does not help the argument for “going short was a sound strategy” is that when Tyrone went long they won the battle 6 – 2. We have no way of knowing what Kerry would have done if all kickouts went long – they destroyed Kildare in the first half of that game on long kickouts – but there is definitely an argument that Tyrone should have gone longer more often irrespective of how they were doing on the short ones.

Kerry? They went short on 9 kickouts, scoring 0 – 02, with no real pressure applied by Tyrone. When the ball went past the 45 Tyrone were competitive with Kerry winning the possession battle 7 – 5.


Team giving up the ball Pass In the Tackle Shot Other
Kerry 8 11 3
Tyrone 8 5 3 8

As expected Tyrone were very good in the tackle turning over a Kerry player on 11 occasions however difference in natural skill sets is evident in the “other” category. On a wet, dirty, day Tyrone turned the ball over through either mishandling, or fouling, the ball on 8 separate occasions. Kerry didn’t turn it over in this method once.

Shot Charts

Kerry’s shooting
Kerry shooting (V Tyrone 15 SF)

Tyrone’s shooting
Tyrone shooting (V Kerry 15 SF)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half from play,

Players with >= 3 shots from play

Shots Scores Success % Weighting
D McCurry (Tyrone) 4 2 50% +0.435
C McAlliskey (Tyrone) 4 2 50% +0.157
P Geaney (Kerry) 4 2 50% -0.053
J Buckley (Kerry) 3 3 100% +1.417
M Bradley (Tyrone) 3 2 67% +0.968
S O’Brien (Kerry) 3 2 67% +0.794
D Walsh (Kerry) 3 1 33% -0.370
J O’Donoghue (Kerry) 3 0 0% -1.583