Posts Tagged ‘Armagh’

Cavan v Armagh 2016 Ulster

May 31, 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 43 36 30 2 – 16 18.30
Armagh 45 36 28 0 – 14 16.93

Possessions, attacks, shots & Expt Pts were all very similar yet Cavan had this game wrapped up in the 57th minute when Campbell’s penalty was saved and Séanie Johnston scored on the subsequent possession. How so?

Armagh’s shooting

The first port of call is Armagh’s relative under performance on the scoreboard. They left the guts of 1-01 behind them when Campbell missed a 13m free in the first half and that penalty in the second. The chances of scoring 0 – 00 from those two shots is ~0.3%. 0.3%!!

Of course this means that excluding these two misses (I know you can’t but bear with me!) Armagh’s shooting was satisfactory. From the remaining 26 shots Armagh had an Expt Pts return of 13.47; they scored 0-14. Their deadball striking was very good (once we have removed the missed 13m free!) with 9 shots producing a score of 0 – 08 off an Expt Pts tally of 6.59. From play their returns were 0 – 06 scored from 16 shots (Expt Pts of 6.88).

Therein lies the real problem. Although Armagh had 16 shots from play they were, in the main, long range efforts. Something very similar occurred in last week’s game between Derry and Tyrone. Armagh had little or no penetration and thus momentum was difficult to (a) build or (b) maintain. They would get within touching distance of Cavan but fall away again as the shot selection was too difficult. As an illustration below is Armagh’s 1st half shooting from play

Armagh from play 1st half

You couldn’t have a cleaner, more impressive chart if you were Cavan. Armagh just could not get inside at all. That changed to some degree in the second half but the damage was done – they were chasing the game with absolutely no goal threat (indeed outside the penalty Armagh didn’t have a goal attempt all game).


Cavan had two goal chances and converted both. Their point taking was also very efficient. From play they were 0 – 11 from 21 shots (Expt Pts of 9.66) whilst also returning 0 – 05 from deadballs (7 shots; Expt Pts 4.97). A repeatable performance? There was nothing to suggest otherwise. There was no real shot concentration in any one area, no over reliance on frees whilst the conversion rate for shots taken under pressure at 60% (6 from 10) was better than those taken without any pressure applied – 45% (5 from 11).

It was a good performance but what caught the eye more, looking ahead to Tyrone, was what Cavan did, or more accurately did not do, from a defensive perspective. Yes they protected the D but there was a vulnerability down the centre.




Above are two instances where Armagh have an overlap straight through the heart of the Cavan defence. In the first Mackey (22) is drawn towards Grugan (10) leaving both Mallon (5) and Forker (6) completely isolated at the top of the D. In the second Campbell shoots but if he slips the ball inside McKenna (21) is standing all on his own at the top of the large rectangle. Snapshots to be sure – and any team can look exposed with an instantaneous snapshot – but these were not the only examples. Twice Armagh won easy frees in the first half when running straight through the middle. Given Tyrone’s style I can see Donnelly, Harte et al looking to drive through the 45 the next day.


One topic that generated a lot of discussion was Armagh’s kickout strategy. A lot was made of the late switch in the Armagh goalkeeper and the impact this had on the outcome. Firstly Armagh “won” 83% of their own kickouts. This however included 20 that went short (or appeared to go short*); strip these out and Cavan edged the Armagh kickouts 5-4. This is by no mean disastrous nor even out of kilter with the norm.

Armagh scored 0 – 07 from the possessions they obtained from their own kickout and coughed up 0 – 03. That 0 – 03 is generally fine but appeared to be much more as the game was progressing as a result of (a) two quick back to back Cavan points in the first half giving the impression of a large scale issue and (b) the commentators continually referencing Armagh’s kickout problems**.

It wasn’t their own kickout that was the problem. It was Cavan’s. Cavan had 17 kickouts and only one of these went short – an unusual stat in and of itself. Of the remaining 16 Armagh only “won” two. Considering all 16 were contestable – landing outside the 45 – this is a very poor return. Whereas Armagh had a net result of 0 – 04 on their own kickouts (0-07 scored versus 0 – 03 conceded directly from the kickout) Cavan had a very comfortable net return of 1-05 in their favour on their own kickouts.

Armagh had a fairly average day on their own kickouts – nothing destructive. Cavan however had a day of days on theirs.


A quick note on Campbell. He had 14 shots in total with an Expected Return of 10.13 and the return of 0 – 08 shows an absolute mixed bag. His day will be remember for the penalty & missed 13m free however outside of those he was excellent converting 67% (8 from 12) and scoring +1.33 above Expected.
14 shots is the joint highest recorded by any one player in a Championship game***. The others to reach 14 were Séan Quigley against Laois in 2014, Martin Dunne for Cavan against Armagh in 2013 and Conor McManus in Monaghan’s defeat to Dublin in 2014.


Shot Charts

Cavan’s shooting
Cavan shooting (V Armagh 16)

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


*You can always tell when RTE are not in control of the production. You will rarely miss anything in a game when they are in charge – here there were numerous kickouts not shown. I counted nine in total. Normally this isn’t really an issue as the camera will catch where the ball lands, or we’ll return to the game with a back advancing after obviously taking a short kickout. Here though we missed complete possessions! Where there were gaps in the game a level of judgement had to be overlaid on the data.

** as an aside one of the best pieces of advice I was given was to watch the game with the sound off. This emanated from amateur boxing where you begin to focus on the footwork rather than the punches the commentator calls. Similarly in horse racing your eyes get drawn to places other than the front of the race. If you are interested in analysis record the next GAA game and watch without the commentary on. As the game progresses pick 3 or 4 things you notice that teams/players are doing and which you feel are important. Watch the game back and listen to the commentary. Are your items picked up? Are they emphasised? Does the newspaper and forum chatter revolve around what you saw or what the commentary told the audience to see? This is not a go at commentators – theirs is a very hard job (to do well). But what they observe live can set an agenda that has nothing to do with what won/lost the game.

*** ~95% of TV games from 2012 – 2016 included. There will be instances where players have taken more than 14 shots but they will have been in non TV games


Armagh v Donegal 2014 Championship

August 10, 2014

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 Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Weighting
Armagh 37 25 68% 12 48% +0.998
Donegal 42 33 79% 13 39% -3.541
Champ (’12 & ’13 avg) 35.8 27.6 77.2% 14.1 51.0%

Given the defensive nature of both teams it might be surprising to see so many attacking possessions in the game. But it is the defensive nature of the teams that leads to these high volumes – when the opposition has the ball they are allowed come forward and are only engaged somewhere around the 45. Thus attacking possessions are achieved quite easily.

The low Shot Rates further emphasise this philosophy. In their three games to date Donegal have allowed the opposition Shot Rates of 71%, 71% and 64%. You may have the ball, even be allowed into the 45, but you will have to work extra hard for any shots you carve out.

Given that Donegal manufactured eight extra shots they will be very disappointed to have only won by a single point. Whilst they were in control of much of the game, and looked comfortable, they never should have been in a position where a goal put them under such pressure. Their usual third quarter supremacy was in evidence (they were winning the second half shot count 10-3 at one stage) but their lack of accuracy meant that it was not shown on the scoreboard.

Where attacks originated

Opposition k/out Own k/out Ball received in Own 3rd Ball received in Mid 3rd Ball received in Opposition 3rd Other (throw-in, rebound etc.)
Armagh 5 12 15 2 0 3
Donegal 13 13 11 3 0 2

Two things stand out from the above table. The first is how much more successful Donegal were at getting attacking possession from Armagh’s kickouts than was the case the other way around. The second is where the turnovers were received. Only 5 of the 31 turnovers that were turned into attacks emanated from outside either side’s 45. Unlike what Mayo did to Cork there was no real high pressing of defenders and no attacks, and thus points, were achieved cheaply.

Shots from Play

Team Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
Armagh 21 10 48% +1.238
Donegal 24 7 29% -3.209
Champ avgs (’12 & ’13) 20.3 9.2 45.4%

Very good shooting from Armagh, especially when you consider that only 4 of the 22 shots were taken from a central location. Tony Kernan (3 from 4) and Stefan Campbell (2 from 3) were the main protagonists.

Looking at the shot chart below it is quite surprising to see that Tony Kernan’s long range effort in the first half was the only shot attempted from further than 35metres. Donegal “give” teams the wide channel, as they protect the central shooting area, and Armagh were content to shoot from there rather than try to tease the defensive shield out by shooting over it.

Donegal’s shooting from play was atrocious. There’s no real way around it. And this despite the fact that they converted three of their last four attempts; up until then Donegal were running at a 20% Success Rate!

We have seen poor shooting from Donegal before (they hit 21%, 3 from 14, in the 2013 Ulster Final) but not this year. In their three games on the way to the Ulster championship their returns from play have been 50%, 50% & 53%. I guess Donegal will write this off as “one of those things” and move on.

Armagh, like the aforementioned Monaghan team in 2013, are a physically imposing team so some of this poor return could be attributed to them. Only 57% (13/23) of Donegal’s attempts at a point were done so under pressure however.

Instead I would attribute a lot of the poor returns to poor shooting – Gallagher’s effort in the second half – and poor options – McGee’s second attempt from the right plus Murphy’s two very long range efforts. Yes Murphy can convert these attempts but would the better option have been to work the ball in closer as they did for the penultimate point?

Shots from deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
M Murphy (Donegal) 6 4 67% -0.104
C McFadden (Donegal) 3 2 67% -0.228
T Kernan (Armagh) 3 1 33% -0.693
A Kernan (Armagh) 1 1 100% +0.453
team avgs (’12 & ’13 Champ) 7.3 4.9 66.7%

For 70 minutes Donegal showed excellent disciple in defence only allowing Armagh two shots at goal from frees. That collective discipline dissolved when the ball was kicked away to give Armagh that last opportunity but otherwise they can be pleased with their efforts.

Murphy was having a very good day from frees until he missed a fairly routine free c40m out in front of goals with his last attempt. His weighting is badly affected by that miss. Similarly McFadden missed a central kick that badly affected his weighting but his was just inside the 45m line and to the right.

For an area of their game that was such a strength in 2012 Donegal are returning below par performances this year. In the four games to date Murphy & McFadden are a combined 64% (18/28) with a weighting of -1.205.


Team “coughing up” possession Volume Shots from Turnovers %
Armagh 22 12 55%
Donegal 22 10 45%


Misplaced Pass Tackled Shots not going dead Other
Armagh 10 4 3 5
Donegal 6 8 5 3

The nature of both teams’ philosophy can be seen in how few turnovers there were. A combined volume of 44 is quite low whilst both teams struggled to transfer the turnovers won into shots. Part of this was due to where the turnover ball was received – all bar one of the 44 turnovers were received in the opposition’s half.

Now Donegal are known for their ability to transfer turnover ball into scores however against a team like Armagh, who are set up with a defensive mindset, the space to run into once the turnover was won was not there. Also due to their own setup nothing was scored easily … none of their 22 turnovers were won outside their 65.

On the flipside Donegal only gave up three of their turnovers outside Armagh’s 45. Armagh were given nothing easy – the only turnover Donegal gave up in their own half was when Gallagher lost the ball in the tackle between his 45 & 65.


Armagh’s kickouts Won % Turned into a possession % Shot %
Armagh 14 50% 12 86% 9 64%
Donegal 14 50% 13 93% 9 64%
Donegal’s kickouts Won % Turned into a possession % Shot %
Armagh 6 27% 5 83% 4 67%
Donegal 16 73% 13 81% 11 69%

Donegal, for the main part, were in control of their own kickouts. Of their 22 kickouts we did not see where 2 landed. Of the remaining 20 45% went short with Donegal manufacturing 5 shots and scoring 0-01.

On the eleven that were contestable (dropped past the 45) Armagh “won” the initial possession battle 6-5. Surprisingly for three of Armagh’s wins Durcan managed to pick out an Armagh player standing on his own.

Armagh had a much tougher day on their kickouts only winning 50%. Given this fact it was surprising that Armagh went short only four times (we didn’t see where two of the kickouts landed). Of the 22 contestable kickouts Donegal won possession 13 times getting a shot off on nine of them. Armagh managed seven shots from the nine possessions they won – which is a good return – however they would have been better taking a few more short kickouts thus depriving Donegal of attacking ball inside the Armagh 65 whilst also ensuring more attacking possessions for themselves (given the low turnover rate they were attaining.

Shot Charts

Armagh’s shooting
Armagh shooting (V Donegal)

Donegal’s shooting
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half from play

Players with >= 2 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
O MacNiallais (Donegal) 6 2 33% -0.619
P McBrearty (Donegal) 5 2 40% +0.071
T Kernan (Armagh) 4 3 75% +1.479
M Murphy (Donegal) 4 1 25% -0.528
S Campbell (Armagh) 3 2 67% +0.874
A Forker (Armagh) 3 1 33% -0.135
C McFadden (Donegal) 3 1 33% -0.706
A Mallon (Armagh) 2 1 50% +0.282
N McGee (Donegal) 2 1 50% +0.149
J Clarke (Armagh) 2 0 0% -0.788
S Harold (Armagh) 2 0 0% -1.068

Cavan V Armagh 2013

May 23, 2013

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 Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Weighting
Cavan 34 32 94% 16 50% -0.3958
Armagh 40 29 73% 12 41% -2.167
2012 avg 35.28 27.02 76.6% 13.96 51.67%

What has been a recurring theme in the commentary on this game, and will be laced throughout this piece, is Armagh’s defensive tactics. The effect of this can be seen in a number of areas and none more so than in Cavan’s 94% shot rate.

In all bar two occasions when Cavan got the ball into Armagh’s 45 they got a shot off. This is phenomenal and an indicator of the lack of pressure the Cavan forwards were under. They were rarely tackled by multiple defenders nor forced to spray the ball back and forth across the line looking for a gap. Armagh left lots of space; the ball was played into it, gathered and a shot taken. Cavan’s slightly below average weighting shows that, Dunne apart, their execution left a lot to be desired.

Armagh did have their chances, with above average possession and shots, but their execution let them down.

Shots from play

Team Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
Cavan 27 14 52% +0.9291
Armagh 23 7 30% -2.033
2012 avg 20.14 9.36 46.47%

Dunne and Keating had 19 shots from play between them scoring 10 points. Dunne was a lot more efficient (73% Success Rate (8/11) & Weighting of +2.41) than Keating (25% (2/8) weighting of -1.87) however the supply to both really had to be shut down.

Armagh’s shooting from play was very poor. Cavan marked Clarke out of it ensuring he only had one effort, apart from the ghost goal, which was knocked out of his hands. Unfortunately for Armagh none of his teammates stood up to take his place

Shots from deadballs

Player Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
M Dunne (Cavan) 3 1 33% -0.961
N McDermott (Cavan) 1 1 100% +0.159
C Gilsenan (Cavan) 1 0 0% -0.519
S Forker (Armagh) 3 2 67% -0.611
A Kernan (Armagh) 2 2 100% +0.310
T Kernan (Armagh) 1 1 100% +0.167
2012 team avgs 6.88 4.6 66.9%

Apart from Tony Kernan’s wonderful sideline point there was nothing of note here – except perhaps Dunne missing two very easy frees in the first half.

Shot charts
Look at how close to goal all of Cavan’s shots are. Armagh’s man marking ensured that there was no “press” on the ball – Cavan could just get the ball in, turn and shoot.

Armagh, for all their failings, got the ball into the right area. They missed 6 shots from play from in and around Sector 5 – take the average from this sector and they are right there.

It is quite instructive to compare the two shot charts here with Mayo’s against Galway (here) and compare the accuracy from in front of the posts.

Cavan’s shooting

Cavan shooting

Armagh’s shooting

Armagh shooting

x = missed, disc = score, red = free/sideline, white = play, yellow = 45


Cavan-Armagh kickouts

Armagh had a +9 differential on winning kickouts but only turned this into a +3 differential in terms of shots. This was due, in the main, to Cavan’s excellent shot rate – every kickout they turned into a possession also became a shot.

Although on the surface a -3 differential on shots from kickouts won is not a bad days work this will be an area of concern for Cavan. They will surely not meet a defence as accommodating again. If they continue to win just 40% of kickouts we can expect the conversion to possessions, and then shots, to drop. Were this to happen it would provide a huge platform for their opponents.

Players with >= 2 shots from play
Eugene Keating had a bad day but he was stellar against Donegal last year (here). I think it is safe to assume that both he and Dunne will regress to the mean – if this does happen then Cavan will be looking for more production from the rest of the team.

Shots Scores Success Rate Weighting
M Dunne (Cavan) 11 8 73% +2.407
E Keating (Cavan) 8 2 25% -1.869
S Forker (Armagh) 4 2 50% +0.606
T Kernan (Armagh) 4 1 25% -0.358
E Rafferty (Armagh) 3 1 33% -0.135
M Shields (Armagh) 3 1 33% -0.177
N McDermott (Cavan) 3 1 33% -0.382
C Rafferty (Armagh) 2 1 50% +0.215
K Dyas (Armagh) 2 0 0% -0.926

Armagh V Tyrone

June 19, 2012
Team Possessions Shots Shot Rate Scores Success Rate Return Vs Expected
Armagh 37 29 78% 13 45% -2.22
Tyrone 33 28 85% 19 68% +4.33
avg 41.8 28.3 67.7% 14.1 49.8% 0.00

That’s an impressive line from Tyrone! Their possessions were quite low but what they did with them was wonderful.

To get the average number of shots off whilst having 9 less possessions (against the average) illustrates the innate footballing ability they have but also, to an extent, the game plan they play to. They have the confidence to be patient – to let the opportunity come to them. Then when the opportunity does come they are lethal.

The next best Success Rate we have in 2012, after Tyrone’s 68%, is Kerry’s 61% against Tipperaray when we showed they achieved this by shooting from in front of the posts (segments 5 & 8). Tyrone didn’t wait for such easy opportunities to open up. Although there is a high correlation between a high Success Rate & a high Expected Return if Tyrone were only popping over points from the 21m line they’d have a much lower Expected Return. They instead took the shot when the shot was on and scored more often than not – their decision making, aided by no little skill, was a joy to behold in this game.

As an aside there is definitley something afoot with how teams are using the ball compared to 2010. We are getting fewer possessions and higher shot rates. It might be a function of the 2012 data to date having a higher percentage of plays from “weaker” counties than the 2010 data. Teams who do not have the footballers to break the defensive curtain are shuffling the ball back and forward across the 45m line before pulling the trigger after running out of ideas. If this is the case it will work itself out over the coming weeks as we get more “big” games but it is definitley something to keep an eye on.

From play

Team Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
Armagh 21 7 33% -2.40
Tyrone 19 12 63% +3.62
avg 21.1 9.3 44.0% 0.00

From deadballs

Team Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
B Mallon (Arm) 5 4 80% +0.39
J Clarke (Arm) 2 1 50% -0.45
A Forker (Arm) 1 1 100% +0.24
M Penrose (Tyr) 6 5 83% +0.48
O Mulligan (Tyr) 1 1 100% +0.14
Joe McMahon (Tyr) 1 1 100% +0.49
P Harte (Tyr) 1 0 0% -0.40
game avgs 7.3 4.8 66.5% 0.00

Again Tyrone’s shooting from play was exemplary. One has to wonder however if Armagh’s man marking, for all its entertainment value, was best served against this Tyrone team. When Tyrone face the likes of Donegal, Dublin or Kildare, who will pack the space in front of their goal with bodies, will that Success Rate hold up? If not they will have to up their volume of possessions to compensate for any slackening in the Success Rate.

Armagh had the chances, despite the red card, to win this game. They had as many shots as Tyrone but just didn’t execute. Watching the game you felt that Jamie Clarke was taking too much on hoping for wonder scores. The below table shows that he was just above average in his returns and it was, in fact, the Armagh supporting cast that let them down (23% Success Rate on 13 shots with an Expected Return of -2.68. Terrible.). Armagh need to develop shooters alongside Clarke (much like Donie Shine & Roscommon) to escape the qualifiers shark pool.

Players with >= 2 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Vs Expected
J Clarke (Arm) 8 4 50% +0.28
M Penrose (Tyr) 4 3 75% +1.11
Stephen O’Neill (Tyr) 4 2 50% +0.41
C Cavanagh (Tyr) 3 2 67% +0.68
G McPartland (Arm) 3 1 33% -0.23
P Harte (Tyr) 2 2 100% +1.11
K Dyas (Arm) 2 1 50% +0.10
P Duffy (Arm) 2 0 0% -0.83
C McCarron (Tyr) 2 0 0% -1.08