Posts Tagged ‘Dublin’

Dublin v Tyrone 2018 All Ireland Final

September 6, 2018

This may seem like a ridiculous statement when reviewing a game in which the four time Champions won by six points but Dublin were just better. We’ll go into the various components below but they had more primary possession, more shots and better accuracy on those shots.

More ball plus more efficiency in using that ball equates to a relatively straightforward win.

When Dublin had the ball

What makes the margin of victory more impressive was the hole that Dublin had dug for themselves. After 16 minutes they were 12 – 9 behind on the possession count, 10 – 7 behind on the shot count and four points behind on the scoreboard. They were losing the primary possession battle and returning a hitherto fore unseen 14% (0-01 from 7) Conversion Rate. This also included Dean Rock missing two frees. The same Rock who recorded an 83% (0-25 from 30; Expt Pts of +3.15) Conversion Rate on frees in All Ireland finals and semi-finals in 2016 and 2017. It is lost in the talk of five in a row but that was a dreadful start reminiscent of their start against Mayo in 2016.

Of course combining the end result with that terrible start (and it was terrible) means that when Dublin removed the handbrake post the 15th minute they then proceeded to destroy Tyrone in the following 65 minutes winning the possession battle 41 – 32, producing five (25 to 20) more shots and returning a Conversion Rate of 72% (Expt Pts + 5.24 and a points per possession of 0.54). Utterly devastating. The below time sequence chart shows the gap, in terms of score and Expt Pts, just widening from that first goal.

The controlled nature of the second half display (0–10 from 14 (71%) and winning all 16 kickouts) is very reminiscent of the 2017 final when they went 0-12 from 16 attempts (Conversion Rate of 75%) and secured all 11 kickouts. Something similar was in effect in the semi-final against Galway (time series chart in the Appendix). Had Galway taken their chances at even an average rate they would have been with Dublin well into the second half – but still Dublin powered away with excellent second half shooting.

So how did Dublin do it?

First and foremost they converted their goal chances. They had three shots at goal returning 2-00. Even when Morgan saved Costello’s attempt Rock popped up with the subsequent 45.

Speaking of Rock he had a sterling day scoring 0 – 07 from 9 including 0 – 03 from 3 from play (Expt Pts of +1.33). That is even better than the bare numbers when we consider that his three points from play came in the first half after missing those aforementioned early frees. Ciarán Kilkenny clipped over 0-03 from 5 (Expt Pts of +0.69) whilst Brian Fenton popped over his two attempts.

The Dublin shot chart is in the Appendix. The shooting wasn’t as tight as was highlighted in the preview (only 9 of the 23, or 39%, were from the artificially created central channel) but it was tight enough with next to no wild attempts. Whilst Tyrone have to be given credit for keeping Dublin outside of this central channel it is an indication of Dublin’s clinical nature that of the 14 point attempts from “outside” they converted 57% (0-08 from 14)

Not only did Fenton score 0-02 but he was also very active in the attack with four primary assists. These assists are probably more a testament to his conditioning, and relative cool, as three of them came in injury time at the end of the second half. The epitome of this Dublin team – the right option executed properly when under the twin pressures of fatigue and an opponent attempting to manufacture a comeback.

Having said all that the unsung hero for Dublin was Con O’Callaghan. He was the primary assist for seven separate shots including for Scully’s goal and winning three of Dublin’s five frees all in the first half when the game was there for the taking.

When Tyrone had the ball

In the preview it was highlighted that whilst, in the run up to the final, Tyrone’s Conversion Rates were on a par with Dublin there were reasons to believe that theirs was a false position being propped up by an unsustainable outing against Roscommon. And so it proved.

Tyrone scored 1 – 14 from attempts that the average intercounty team would return 17.22pts. The fact that every team doesn’t face Dublin when those averages are being compiled gives Tyrone some leeway – so let’s say they returned in and around what was expected. Tyrone did not lose because of their wides or due to any perceived inefficiency. Their Conversion Rate, excluding the Roscommon game, coming into the final was 52%. Their average from ’15 – ’17 was 52%. They shot 50%. It was always going to be thus.

Tyrone lost because they didn’t produce enough shots (or alternatively reduce Dublin’s volume of shots) knowing they would be up against the most efficient team we have ever seen. Or as stated in the very first sentence because Dublin are just better.

How Tyrone compiled their returns is slightly at odds with how we would expect. We knew coming in to the game that despite having four goal attempts in the recent Super8 contests against Roscommon and Dublin they were struggling to create chances. They had only manufactured three goal attempts in their three previous games against Dublin. Now we can make it four in four with two of those being penalties. They did maintain their recent fine record of converting goal chances. In the five games from the Super8 onwards they have had 10 attempts at goal scoring 8-01. That’s a phenomenal return (the average over the years has been creeping up to about 40%) but is it indicative of a too cautious approach at an average of 2.0 a game? Only taking the shot when it is absolutely on? Dublin were 4.0 a game in the same period.

Frees were an issue coming into the game (averaging out in the mid 60% range) though given Dublin’s defensive discipline there was the possibility it wouldn’t be an issue. Dublin did maintain their discipline (again only offering up five shots at goal from frees with only two in the first half) but Tyrone were excellent here converting all five using the rota of Harte, McAliskey & Lee Brennan.

So six shots at goal from frees and deadballs returning 1-05 (Dublin were 2 – 04 from 10). What let Tyrone down was their point taking. At a macro level they were 38% (0 – 09 from 24) with an Expt Pts of -1.92. Dublin ended up with 57% (0-13 from 23; Expt Pts of +1.88) despite their very poor opening.

Their two strike forwards of Bradley & McAliskey were good combining for 80% (0-04 from 5) with an Expt Pts of +1.79. Of course that means everyone else was very, very poor combining for 26% (0-05 from 19; Expt Pts of -3.44). That’s just not going to work against Dublin.

In the preview we highlighted how Tyrone’s shot location was hampering them. Here Tyrone had some poor efforts (three shots in a knot at the 20m line out by the right sideline) but overall 45% of their point attempts came from the aforementioned central channel. Right place but just poor execution; think of Lee Brennan’s snapped shot wide with his right @ 67:40, Cathal McShane @ 52:29 with his left about 16m out directly in front of the goals

Tyrone will have regrets, and thus something to build on, as their shooting was an absolute mixed back. At a macro level their accuracy was not a problem – they hit the average. But unlike previous form their free taking held up so their accuracy from point taking was an issue. But even therein their strike forwards were accurate – everyone else was very poor.

Tyrone’s shot location was another mixed bag – more shots from central locations should have helped the Conversion Rate but they had some very poor attempts from “inside” mixed in with some absolute haymakers from out wide.

Kickouts

In all the above what we have yet to touch on is just exactly how Dublin built up +6 on the possession count. And it is quite different than a “normal” Championship game.

Tyrone won the turnover battle quite comprehensively 23 – 13 which in and of itself is striking. So how do you lose a game by six points if you gain 10 more possessions from turnovers? By getting cleaned out on kickouts.

The possession count from kickouts was 36-19 in favour of Dublin. Whilst remarkable using a term like “cleaned out” may be hyperbolic as 13 of those 17 extra possessions came from short kickouts – and once again Tyrone dealt very well with Dublin’s short kickouts allowing just 0.23pts per kickout won. Tyrone allowed 0.28pts in the three games prior to the final. This is against the 0.47pts allowed by other teams in the run up to the final.

Tyrone, it would appear, can handle Dublin’s short kickouts. What we saw in the three previous games was that they couldn’t handle the longer ones with Dublin scoring 2-13 off 34 won past the 45 (0.59pts per kickout won – compare that to how they stifled Dublin on short ones). Again here Dublin scored 2-04 off just 14 won past the 45; 0.71pts per kickout won.

Apart from only breaking even (winning 8 to Dublin’s 7) on their own kickouts past the 45 the other glaring number from a Tyrone perspective is that they only got two shots from the nine short kickouts (22%) they reclaimed. This seems to have been a one off as in the three games against Dublin they created a shot on 64% (18 shots from 28) of their short kickouts

Appendix

Time series chart v Galway

Dublin shooting chart


disc = scored, x= missed, yellow = deadball, red = goal attempt, black = point attempt 1st half, white = point attempt 2nd half

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2018 All Ireland preview

August 28, 2018

Possessions

It goes without saying that the first primary objective of any team is to gain control of the ball. In the three most recent meetings between the protagonists (2017 AI semi-final, 2018 league and 2018 Super8) the total possession count is 136–135 in Dublin’s favour. It is somewhat surprising to see things so evenly matched however when we review first halves only Dublin are 69–62 ahead so game state has definitely had an effect on this metric.

Still Tyrone have been better in the last two encounters trailing the possession count at half time 24–23 in the league game and 22–20 in the Super8 contest. The concern here is that both of these contests were held in Omagh with all the built in advantages that entails. It will be imperative for Tyrone that they replicate these Omagh starts in the slightly less friendly environs of Croke Park and, at the very least, get on as much ball as Dublin. And get on it early.

Possession can be garnered in two primary ways. The first is through kickouts and the second is through turnovers (see note1 below). Kickouts are covered in depth below but focussing on turnovers there is definitely a trend favouring Tyrone. They, in their three games against Dublin, lead the turnover count 75 – 64 however that advantage dissipates when it comes to the prime counter attacking turnovers garnered outside your own 45. Both teams have managed to get their hands on 17 turnovers apiece outside the 45 with Dublin producing more (which will become a common theme) scoring 2–04 from these 17 possessions compared to 0–04 for Tyrone (see note2 below).

Tyrone’s turnover advantage is blunted by the fact that they have received the ball more often inside their own 45, giving Dublin time to reset the defence.

Once control of the ball is established the next step is to manufacture a shot. This is the oft referenced transition stage and is generally something that we in the GAA are bad at quantifying. We know, just from visual observation, that Dublin are excellent in this phase but just how good are they? And how do you quantify that?

Using shot totals as one measure Dublin are not that much better. In their three meetings Tyrone, despite having one less possession, actually end up with one more shot than Dublin (80 – 79). That even includes two shots that Dublin got from rebounds (so can’t really be attributed to “transition”). Now there is great disparity game to game (Dublin had six more shots in the 2017 semi-final, Tyrone had eight more in the league game whilst Dublin had just the one more in the Super 8 encounter) but Tyrone have, on the whole, created chances.

As further evidence of Tyrone’s ability to create chances; in their four most recent games (3x Super8 contests and the semi-final v Galway) Dublin progressed 68.9% of their possessions to a shot whilst the opposition combined for 69.3% on this metric. In their last four games, against much the same opposition as Dublin, Tyrone progressed 73.9% of their possessions to a shot. Of late Dublin have not really stopped teams, be it Tyrone or others, from transitioning to a shot.

If there is no discernible quantitative difference between how the teams use the ball then, given that Tyrone have lost the last three encounters by a combined 20 points, there must be quite a large qualitative difference.

When Dublin have the ball

Going into the 2017 final Dublin were recording a quite remarkable Conversion Rate of 61%. That was from five games which included three in the Leinster championship so theoretically that 61% should have been somewhat bloated by facing lesser opposition (that theory was dented when they then went out and hit 68% against Mayo in the final but still …. )

In their last four games, which on paper should have been collectively harder than the 2017 run in, Dublin have returned a quite incredible 64% (see Table1 in the Appendix for detailed player breakdowns). To try and put this into some form of perspective the average Conversion Rate from 2015 to 2017 was 53% whilst everyone else in the 2018 timeframe (Super8s and semi-finals) has hit 55%.

So how are Dublin achieving this?

Frees

Perhaps the most obvious place to start is with their free taking. Dean Rock has been the leading light in terms of accuracy of late. From 2015 to 2017 Dublin converted 82% of their frees (0–93 from 113) with Rock accounting for the vast majority of this; he took 81% of all their frees in this timespan recording a whopping 88% (0–81 from 92) Conversion Rate. Every other free taker was a combined 72% during this period.

Within the four games outlined above Dublin have converted 82% (0-18 from 22) of their shots from frees with everyone else from the Super8s onwards combining for 74% (0–95 from
128). Dublin would appear to be maintaining their free kick superiority.

It is not as clear cut as all that however. With the Super8s including long range experts like Michael Murphy, Rory Beggan and Niall Morgan it could be argued that Dublin should be hitting a higher Conversion Rate as they are collectively attempting easier frees.

Dublin have taken 55% of their 2018 frees from central locations (an imaginary line up from the D out to the 45 in the above chart) with only four being attempted from outside what I consider to be the optimal range. By contrast only 36% of the other teams’ frees were from this central alley with a not insubstantial 7% of all frees coming from outside the 45. So Dublin’s frees have been appreciably easier.

This is where the Expected Points model comes into its own. On the 22 frees Dublin attempted they were expected to score 18.42 points. They scored 0–18 thus were below average (Expt Pts of -0.42) for these attempts. The other teams had an Expt Pts of 91.26 on the 128 they attempted so the 0–95 scored was 3.74pts above average (Expt Pts of +3.74). Dublin have aided their 2018 Conversion Rate with easier frees but they have not been better free takers per se.

Tyrone however cannot rely on this. Dean Rock has stood up on the big stage before recording a whopping 83% (0-25 from 30; Expt Pts of +3.15) in All Ireland finals and semi-finals in 2016 and 2017. The balance of probabilities is he will deliver again in this final.

There is nothing Tyrone can do to affect Rock’s Conversion Rates (I have no doubt they will try all sorts of verbals, and running across his eye line, but if Lee Keegan’s flying GPS unit in injury time of a final can’t put him off I doubt anything Tyrone do will!). All they can do is cut down the number of opportunities they afford him from frees.
In their most recent non Dublin games Tyrone have given up an average of 6.75 shots at goal from frees (6.5 if we exclude those frees from outside the 45 which Dublin tend to ignore). In their last three games against Dublin they have allowed an average of 4.67 (4, 5 and 5) shots from frees. That is pretty good. This discipline needs to be maintained.

Point attempts

Something similar, in terms of Conversion Rates, is identifiable when it comes to point attempts. Dublin in 2015 – 2017 converted 54% of all their point attempts whilst everyone else was at 46%. In the last four games Dublin have scored on a remarkable 61% of their point attempts (see Table1). Everyone else in that time span has converted 50%. What gives?

Unlike frees – where the main influence on Conversion Rates is from where on the pitch the free was taken from – you can have more constituent parts here affecting the outcome. Location on the pitch is still a deciding factor; as is pressure (see note3) being applied to the defender. Weather can be a factor whilst game state (reviewed here) is also an issue.

Here we are going to focus on two of those – pitch location & pressure applied – but in truth all the above factors can feed in.

Pitch Location

Using our previously constructed central channel as a starting point Dublin again – much like their free taking – help themselves by taking more shots from here. 48% of their point attempts in the last four games come from this region as opposed to 38% for everyone else. But here the similarities end.

Dublin have converted 67% (0–29 from 43) of all point attempts from this central channel and 55% (0–26 from 47) from elsewhere. Everyone else, from the Super8s onwards, is 59% (0-113 from 192) centrally and 45% (0-135 from 303) from elsewhere. Dublin may take easier shots more often but they also convert them at a higher rate.

You may, correctly, say that all these percentages are within any margin of error given the sample sizes. But this phenomenon is not new. In 2017 Dublin were 63% on point attempts from the central channel and 54% elsewhere for an overall Conversion Rate of 58%. Everyone else was 57% centrally, 42% elsewhere and 47.5% overall.

The one trend that is very noticeable this year is just how much Dublin have focussed on shooting centrally. As noted above, and which is very noticeable from the shot chart, 48% of their point attempts have come from the central channel this year – that was consistently in the low 30s the last three years (32% in 2015, 34% in 2016 and 31% in 2017).

Pressure

Looking at the pressure applied to the point attempts we can see that strong or severe pressure was applied to 41% of Dublin’s point attempts and 49% of everyone else’s. It is hard to know if that gap is purely based off Dublin’s fluid movement and decision making or something else. One factor that could aid the gap is game state.

Dublin tend to be involved in more lopsided games than anyone else. Intensity, and as a consequence pressure on shots, drops off in such games. We are getting into very small volumes here but if we only look at point attempts in the first half, when that intensity drop should not be in evidence, do we get the same results? It does narrow the gap; Dublin face strong or severe pressure on 48% of their first half point attempts as opposed to 51% for everyone else.

Dublin’s high Conversion Rates are aided by centrally located shooting and a drop off in pressure in low key second halves. But that shouldn’t belie the skill in evidence – they still convert those centrally located shots at a higher rate than anyone else and manage to take more shots, under less pressure, despite shooting more often from the same crowded central zones.

What about Tyrone’s defence? Is there anything in their recent history that suggest they can affect this? In the seven games under review (see note4) Tyrone have allowed a 50% Conversion Rate on point attempts. About average. This overview masks a pretty big differential however.

Dublin have converted 56% of their point attempts in their three games against Tyrone whilst Monaghan, Donegal and Roscommon combined have converted 45% in their four games.
That 45% is very good. The 56%, when compared to 2017 and 2018 Dublin averages of 58% and 61%, is quite good. Tyrone will need more than quite good here however.

In fairness Tyrone have progressed game on game allowing Conversion Rates of 62% (0-13 from 21) in the 2017 AI SF, 57% (0-08 from 14) in the league encounter and 50% (0–10 from 20) in the Super8 contest. They can allow a high conversion rate off a low base – the league encounter, or a low Conversion Rate off a high base – the Super8 contest. Just not a high Conversion Rate off a high base which is what happened in last year’s semi-final.

Goals

Dublin are known for going for goals. The last four games, excluding penalties, has seen them return 8–02 from 17 shots at goal for a 47% Conversion Rate and 1.53 points per attempt (ppa). Everyone else from the Super8s onwards returned a 40% Conversion Rate (22-09 from 55) and 1.36 ppa.

In 2015 – 2017 Dublin converted 44% of their goal attempts for 1.43ppa whilst everyone else was 38% and 1.23ppa. Dublin are better at taking their goal chances and have been consistently so over the last few years. Quelle surprise!!

Dublin’s higher Conversion Rate is not the real story however. What is really devastating is that they maintain these above average returns whilst going for goal more often. In their last four games they have gone for goal once every 11.4 possessions whilst everyone else has gone for goal once every 18.6 possessions. From 2015 to 2017 they went for goal once every 14.9 possessions versus once every 19.0 possession for everyone else.

There is also the belief that Dublin go for goal early. This was definitely a “thing” in 2017 where the time of their first goal attempt in each game was 09:33 v Kildare (which they scored and then proceeded to goal again on their very next possession), 00:49 v Westmeath, 08:40 against Monaghan and then O’Callaghan’s two salvos against Tyrone @ 04:33 and Mayo @ 01:22 respectively. Five games all with a goal attempt within ten minutes and three with a goal attempt within five minutes.

This has not been as evident in 2018. It was 14 minutes before their first goal attempt against Donegal, their one and only attempt up in Omagh was in the 39th minute and 26 minutes had elapsed against Galway before they had a shot at goal. Only the non-entity of a game against Roscommon produced an early attempt (Costello had his saved on Dublin’s very first possession).

In the seven games in focus Tyrone have allowed 17 shots at goal, or 2.43 per game. In and of itself this is fine however again there is a Dublin/non-Dublin split. In the three Dublin fixtures they have allowed nine goal attempts. That’s three a game, or one every 15.4 possessions, to Dublin and two a game, or one every 23 possessions, to other opponents.

Again there has been an improvement. In their two 2018 meetings with Dublin they have allowed four shots at goal; two a game and one every 23 possessions. You feel that Tyrone will need to replicate this to have any hope but the nagging fear is that, as stated previously, both of those 2018 games were in Omagh. In their Croke Park meeting last year they allowed five shots at goal – can they replicate the Omagh form in Croke Park?

When Tyrone have the ball

Somehow, whilst everyone has been focussing on the blue marvels in the capital, Tyrone have amassed a very nice 60% Conversion Rate in their last four games (see Table2 in the Appendix). Whilst, like Dublin, they were greatly aided by Roscommon (Tyrone converted 79% for their 4–24 whilst Dublin hit 74% in their 4-23) the fear is that, unlike Dublin, the non-Roscommon return of 52% is a more accurate reflection of Tyrone’s level. To this point their 2015 to 2017 shooting saw them return a combined Conversion Rate of 52% with no individual year standing out as particularly accurate (50% in 2015, 49% in 2016 and 56% in 2017).

If Tyrone are not able to do any more than stem the Dublin tide can they show a hitherto fore unseen level of accuracy? In a one off game of course they can but their recent collective history is not so bullish.

Frees

One of Tyrone’s big downfalls in recent years has been their free taking. 2015 to 2017 combined saw them return 65% (2015 = 53%, 2016 = 55%, 2017 = 80%). This is against the backdrop of Rock hitting 88% in the same period. The 2017 mark of 80% looks like they may have hit on a solution however that elevated return was due entirely to Séan Cavanagh who is no longer there. He scored 0–12 from the 13 frees he took last year leaving everyone else to convert 67% (0–08 from 12).

2018 hasn’t seen much progression either. Combined Tyrone returned a below average 71% (Expt pts -0.68) in the last four games and have converted just 69% (0-09 from 13) in their three games against Dublin.

Tyrone know it is an issue (hence why they have had five different free takers in the three games against Dublin). Dublin know it is an issue. The crowd know it is an issue. As such the pressure will get ratcheted up with every miss (think of the pressure on McCaliskey in Ballybofey as he attempted one just before half time after Tyrone had missed three of their first four). At the very least Tyrone could really do with a clean first half here.

In the last three non-Tyrone games games Dublin have been very disciplined allowing the opposition an average of just 3.7 shots from a free with 1.67 in the first half of those games. They have allowed Tyrone just two frees in the first half of each of their three encounters.

Despite this being a weakness for Tyrone it might not manifest itself if Dublin maintain their normal discipline.

Point attempts

Although Tyrone have amassed a total Conversion Rate of 60% in the last four games that has been aided by a 90% Conversion Rate on goals (8 – 01 from 10 shots). This in turn then deflates the Conversion Rate for point attempts to 53% (0–48 from 90). Remove the Roscommon game and it drops to 46% (0 – 31 from 67). In the three games against Dublin it drops further to 41% (0-26 from 63).

There is just no sugar coating this. Tyrone’s point attempts from play have been poor. Very poor.
Part of the problem is shot location. If you recall Dublin are taking 48% of their shots from the central alley whilst the remainder are at 38%. Tyrone, in their three games against Dublin as outlined in the below chart, have only taken 24% (15 of 63) of their point attempts from this alley.

This isn’t a Dublin defensive thing either. In their three games, excluding Tyrone, Dublin have allowed 46% of point attempts from this central alley. Even removing the lacklustre Roscommon game it is still 43% for Donegal & Galway combined.

Just to prove it is more Tyrone than Dublin in their last four games, since the beginning of the Super8s, the volume of Tyrone shots from that central channel is 30% (27 of 90). An increase but still nowhere near the average let alone anywhere near Dublin’s returns.

Tyrone have been shooting themselves in the foot by ignoring the most productive sectors and shooting from what can only be described as sub optimal locations.

Goals

This may come as a surprise to those watching Tyrone of late but they have been relatively shy on the goal shot front. In the seven games under review they have just the 13 attempts with a sequence of 1, 2, 1, 4, 0, 4 & 1. That duck egg is the Super8 game against Dublin in Omagh whilst they have only managed three attempts in the other two Dublin games (a penalty in last year’s semi-final and two in the league game).

All that adds up to 1.86 attempts at goal per game over seven games or 1 every 23.5 possessions. Even more starkly it is 1 per game and 1 every 45 possessions versus Dublin! They will have to do something to create more goal chances.

There is a chink of light however in that Dublin have allowed teams to get in behind them of late with Donegal having three shots at goal, Galway four and Roscommon five. All Roscommon’s five came in the second half when even the pigeons had had enough of the game but still Donegal and Galway combining for seven attempts shows that it is no forlorn hope to step up on their current record

Kickouts

The below table shows the result of kickouts from the three Dublin v Tyrone games. There’s bit to unpick!

First of all, at a macro level, both teams have used a similar enough kickout profile with approx. 50% going short (inside the 45), 33% mid (between the 45 & 65) and 17% going long (past the 65).

On the short ones the returns are broadly (we’re dealing in broad brush strokes here!) in line. Tyrone have lost just the one – which was a throw up after an infringement – but managed to get a shot from 64% of the remainder.

We have seen that Dublin’s Conversion Rates are quite a bit ahead of Tyrone so it is no surprise to see that they have scored 0 – 03 more from the short ones they won. It is a surprise however to see that they converted the ones they won to a shot at a much lower rate than Tyrone (47% v 64%).

That equates to Dublin scoring 0.28pts per short kickout won. Against Monaghan, Roscommon & Donegal combined (see Table3 in the Appendix) Dublin have manufactured a shot from 53% of their short kickouts and scored 0.47pts per short kickout won.

Against Dublin the short ones, both defending against and attacking from, have not really been Tyrone’s problem.

The longer ones are a different issue. At a primary possession level there is no great problem. There have been 62 kickouts that have landed past the 45 with Dublin winning the contest 34–28. At the start of any game you would probably take a 55-45% split against Dublin on kickouts that land past the 45. One step further and Tyrone match Dublin when converting those key primary possessions to shots; Dublin convert them to a shot 59% of the time (20 shots from 34 possessions) with Tyrone at 57% (16 from 28).

It is the scores that come from these longer kickouts that become the problem. Dublin have scored 2 – 13 to Tyrone’s 1 – 07 from kickouts won past the 45. That’s 0.56 points per kickout versus 0.36. This is not unique to Tyrone; against the three aforementioned teams Dublin have scored 0.61 points per kickout won past the 45 and allowed 0.30.
Initially I had thought it was something that Dublin were cleverly doing around Marks but that is not the case. Tyrone have “out-Marked” Dublin 10–6 in their three encounters and scored 0–04 to Dublin’s 0–03 from those Marks. Instead the issue is within those kickouts that land gently into a Dublin player’s stride, past the 45, with no pressure applied.

To break these kickouts down
• Dublin have won 34 kickouts past the 45.
• They have claimed 6 Marks scoring 0–03. That leaves 28.
• Of these 12 were claimed off Tyrone kickouts with Dublin only managing to score 0-01; Dublin may be able to win the Tyrone kickout but haven’t scored off it.
• That leaves 16 of their own kickouts won past the 45 where the ball has hit the deck … but Dublin have scored 1 – 09!

We are in the realm of extremely small sample sizes here and these numbers are not something Tyrone can base a game plan around. But they are unique to Tyrone. Against the other three teams Dublin have won 44 kickouts past the 45 scoring 2-21; 2-06 scored off 16 Marks, 0–10 scored off the opposition’s kickouts (x16) and only 0-05 off their own (x12).

Wrap Up

Dublin are the offensive juggernaut that Tyrone will have to stifle. To do this they will need to ensure they manufacture as many possessions as Dublin, especially in the first half, and maintain their recent discipline in the tackle by offering up no more than five scoreable frees to Rock. They will also have to avoid the dagger of an early goal though luckily for them Dublin may be compliant in this by not going for goal as early as they did in 2017.

After that (sure the first bit is easy!!!) every shot needs to be affected through pressure or location. They need to stay in the game.

Offensively Tyrone have to pick up. They cannot hope to win this game with 70% on frees and mid 40% on point attempts. Although they have not created many goal chances against Dublin we know from the Donegal and Roscommon games that they can. And more importantly that they have been clinical in taking them. If they cannot stem the Dublin attack then they will have to score whatever goal chances come their way.

note1; 95% of all possessions emanated from kickouts (48%) or turnovers (46%) in 2015 – 2017 (9,018 possessions). The remainder came from shots regained (thus the start of a new possession) or throw ins.

note2; As an aside Dublin scored 1-15 from turnovers garnered inside their own 45 (0.38pts per turnover) with Tyrone scoring 0-17 (0.29pts per turnover). Again a function of Dublin’s ability to convert rather than anything Tyrone are (not) doing in transition.

note3; One man’s pressure is another’s loose arm – there is no agreed methodology for tracking pressure but I subjectively give a points range of 0 (no pressure) up to 3 (severe pressure) on each shot to indicate how much the defence pressure shots taken. It is subjective but over time any errors or biases should be applied to all teams evenly so if it is wrong it should be wrong in a very fair and even manner.

note4; The seven games are the three against Dublin, the two non-Dublin super8 fixtures (v Donegal & Roscommon) and their two encounters with Monaghan this year (in Omagh & Croke Park)

APPENDIX

Table1; Dublin shooting by player (Super 8 & AI SF)

Table2; Dublin shooting by player (Super 8 & AI SF)

Table3; Dublin kickouts v Donegal, Roscommon (Super8) & Galway (AI SF)

2018 Division 1 Review

April 27, 2018

The 2018 league saw the continuation of Galway’s upward curve as well as perhaps a chink in the Dublin armour as they lost a regular league game for the first time since March 2015. As will be outlined below Galway played the league differently to everyone else and make an interesting hook when reviewing various metrics; they have thus been added to the recent “Big Four” when reviewing how individual teams perform.

A few of the metrics were introduced in the Week4 review (here) so this review can be seen as an extension of that piece now that we have more date.

Possessions
In boxing they say that styles make fights. In football team set ups and tactics make games. Dublin v Donegal, at 103 possessions during the game, had 26 (34%) more possessions than Dublin v Galway in the league final.

Below are the top and bottom five individual team possessions recorded throughout the 2018 league

Galway continues to play a different game to everyone else. Of the 36 individual team outings (two each per the 18 TV games) Galway’s volume of possessions only once came close to the average of 45.2 a game when they recorded 44 against Monaghan. Otherwise their remaining four fixtures all ranked in the bottom five in terms of possessions. Only in the aforementioned Monaghan game did they have more possessions than the opposition – in that instance two. In the other four games they lost the possession battle by 3, 6, 7 and 8 respectively.

Whilst the spread of possessions at 26 (max = 103, min = 77) would appear to be wide it is actually more condensed than the 2017 Championship when the spread was 34 (113 possessions in the Galway v Mayo game and 79 in the Carlow v Dublin game). Yep that’s the same Galway one competition and about six months removed. I am currently finding it very hard to reconcile the Galway of 2017, which was involved in games with 113 and 110 (QF v Galway) possessions, with that of the 2018 league where the possession count never topped 86!

As well team possessions we also have the number of successful passes within each possession. This can be used as a proxy for that dreaded word – transition.

Dublin’s method of continually probing whilst stretching teams wide has been readily commented upon and it shows up here. They own six of the 11 sequences where there was a minimum of 20 player touches. Those possessions and their outcomes are listed below.

After first producing this table I was asked if it was meaningful that only four of these possessions led to a score. I don’t believe so (a) as the volume is too small to make any concrete statements on and (b) the intention wasn’t always to score – some of these were teams playing keep ball to wind down the clock.

Whilst the above table is “interesting” it doesn’t provide any usable insight. That will come. For instance; once enough data is gathered we can see whether moving the ball through multiple players or the quick strike is more productive. Which teams play fast on the counter – and which teams do not. Until then – we’ll have to do with the “interesting” table!

Another way to use the possession data is to see where the possession originated from and overlay shot data to see how effective teams are depending on where the move starts

At a league wide level

– just under half of all possessions originate from kickouts (34% on your own 15% on the opposition’s)

– 46% come from turnovers (17% inside your own 20m line, 16% between the 20m and 45m lines with the rest picked up higher up the pitch outside your own 45)

– the remainder coming from restarts and shots gone awry (short, blocked and picked up, off the post etc.).

Just knowing that alone you can see why kickouts are such a focus. But should they be? Teams shoot as frequently on their turnovers as they do on their own kickouts. Despite, notionally, teams not being as set when they turn over the ball inside the opposition’s 20m line they allow shots less often than on short kickouts. Dropping the ball into the keeper’s hands is not the mortal sin we have been led to believe ….

But averages simplify the process completely. Some teams are better at transitioning from a kickout – others from turnovers. The below table shows the shots per possession, by where the possession originated from, during the 2018 league

Surprisingly Dublin didn’t excel anywhere and were (relatively) poor on their own kickout. Galway – as is necessary given their low possession game – were above average in all phases. A measure of their efficiency – they won four of the ten restarts and scored 0 – 04; they regained the ball 5 times from shots dropping short, coming off the post etc. – they scored 0 – 05.

Offensive Production

A few things that jump out

– Average Conversion Rate at 55.7% is a 3.3% increase on the 53.9% recorded during the 2017 Championship. There are many reasons as to why this might be but it is just worth noting for a rising ship should lift all boats.

– Dublin did not produce more shots than the opposition (Tyrone actually produced an extra 2.5 shots per game – small sample size alert – whilst only Mayo produced less shots per possession) but were head and shoulders above everyone else when it comes to shooting accuracy. Noteworthy, however, that this was just a continuation of their 2017 form when they recorded a 62.3% Conversion Rate.

– Galway have been very accurate but in a different way to Dublin. Dublin were 60% from play whereas Galway were 52%. But Galway had a significantly greater volume of their shots skewed towards the higher percentage deadballs (26% of Galway’s shots were from deadballs as against 18% of Dublin’s). If the frees dry up, or McHugh’s radar is off, can they generate enough shots from play to overcome their low possession and average Conversion Rates?

– Mayo struggled offensively throughout the league. Their shots per game and their accuracy were both well below the league average. They will be fervently hoping that come the Championship they will be back up to their 2017 levels when they produced 0.63 shots per possession, with a 54% Conversion Rate, across ten games.

Another aspect of attacking play is the frequency that teams go for goal. We all know that goals can inflict monumental damage no matter when they occur (Dublin in the 4th minute against Tyrone in the 2017 semi-final?) but knowing and doing are different things. Do teams go for goal at different rates?

Anyone surprised to see Dublin be so far ahead of the opposition on the frequency of their goal attempts? Me neither. Though I am somewhat surprised to see just how bunched the rest of the teams were. That gap, and bunching, was not evident during 2017 (below). The differing quality of opposition – as opposed to the league when everyone’s opponent is of a comparable standard – feed into the higher rates observed in 2017.

Player level

SHOOTING FROM PLAY

The average Conversion Rate for all attempts from play is 47%. There are reasons why a particular player’s results might vary from this (shooting more against better teams, close in shots versus those from the wings etc.) but it is a very useful yardstick. In that context Dublin’s trio of Kilkenny, Scully and Basquel are off the charts. I don’t care if all shots were taken against beaten dockets (they weren’t) or if there was absolutely no pressure (there was) – that is incredible shooting.

Considering he is Donegal’s main man, and has the added responsibility of taking the frees, McBrearty’s numbers are no less stellar. Defenders know he is getting the ball, they know he is shooting off his left (15 of the 16 point attempts were off his left), yet he still produces.

Comer’s returns look unusual in that he has a very high Conversion Rate but has below average Expt Pts. The simple explanation for this is his poor returns on goal attempts. He had four shots at goal across the five TV games scoring 0 – 03. This helps his Conversion Rate enormously (75%!) but harms his Expt Pts return as he’d be expected to score 1 – 02 from those four attempts.

DEADBALLS

It is a rare enough deadball table that shows Dean Rock comprehensively outplayed but Barry McHugh did just that during this league campaign. Brennan & Clifford also had better Conversion Rates than Rock but their Expt Pts mark was very similar to his showing that they converted slightly easier frees more often.

McHugh’s shooting was not only more accurate (90% Conversion Rate vs 83% for Rock) but also much better in terms of Expt Pts (+2.4 vs +1.1) indicating he converted much harder frees at the same, or a better, rate. Given the aforementioned lack of possessions Galway have a higher need to squeeze as much out of each one as possible. They did this throughout the league in no small part due to McHugh’s proficiency.

Mayo’s deadball woes were very evident throughout the whole campaign. As a team they were 69.5% (0 – 32 from 46) on deadballs leaving 0 – 05 behind them when compared to what the average Conversion Rates on those 46 attempts would be. This was very similar to the 2017 returns where they returned 69.4% (0 -50 from 72) and an Expt Pts mark of -5.36.

ASSISTS

We have started to introduce the idea of Expt Pts for assists and below is a plot for the 20 shooters listed above. It is important to note that for this metric the more games you play the higher your Expt Pts on assists will be as unlike Expt Pts for shooting there is no negative return. You assisted a shot; the outcome is irrelevant. A “per 70 minutes” metric would be much better and this is what will be produced during the 2018 Championship

That being said Fenton remains an absolute beast – he is no midfielder. Rather he is a master puppeteer centre half forward laying off ball to the shooters and/or converting at a ridiculous rate himself.

Despite the above notes on the volume impact we can see the affect Comer and Clifford had throughout the league. Their shooting was by no means stellar but their involvement in setting up teammates was excellent as measured by the impact of their assists. Comer’s direct running plays a part here – Galway took a shot directly from 11 possessions in which Comer was fouled, the next highest was 5. Granted there is huge discrepancy in the volume of minutes played but that is stark.

Defensive Production

Dublin allow more shots, on a per game and a per possession basis, than the other big teams which, when you consider their recent dominance and the fact they won the league is a remarkable thing. But even more remarkable is the poor Conversion Rate from Dublin’s opposition. The average is ~56%; Dublin’s opponents are at ~47% whilst no one else dips below 53%. Why would this be?

We have never been able to concretely attribute poor offensive numbers to either good defending or poor attacking. To date we have had to assume it is a mixture of both. But there are some obvious things we can look at when one teams’ numbers are so out of step with the norm.

Frees; Frees are converted much more readily than attempts from play. If the ratio of frees faced by Dublin is vastly different than that of other teams this would affect the overall Conversion Rate. It is different but not vastly; 22% of the shots faced by Dublin were frees as against 24% for everyone else. That equates to about 0.25 frees per game which isn’t really worth a whole lot in terms of Conversion Rate divergence. Dublin’s opposition converted frees at 73% – the league as a whole was 77%. Small gains but nothing earth shattering.

From play; So if it is not frees then it must be from play. The league average conversion rate on point attempts was 49% (the 47% mentioned earlier also includes goal attempts); Dublin only allowed 39%. That old chestnut – excellent Dublin defending or poor attacking? It is not strong Dublin defending per se – I chart the pressure applied to each shot and the Dublin defence applies “strong or severe” pressure to the shooter at a league average rate (44% for the league, 42% for Dublin). There is something in where Dublin’s opposition shoot from however; against Dublin 47% of the point attempts come from the wings between the 20m & 45m lines – the league average is 38% and if we remove Dublin that drops to 36% for the other six teams. So in a sense it is Dublin defending. We have seen that they allow more shots per game but they “let” you shoot from more disadvantageous regions – this would also feed into why their pressure % is not as high as expected.

Playing Dublin; But then again we have another overriding theme – the pressure of playing Dublin. When we restrict the pressure index to central shots only Dublin are relatively poor – only 31% of opponent’s shots centrally were taken under strong or severe pressure as against the league average of 44%. Low volumes but still! The kicker is that 53% of these central shots against Dublin were converted as against 63% for the rest of the league. We cannot place this performance on Dublin defending – indeed the opposite is true. The Dublin pressure is less intense. Teams missed the simplest of shots (centrally and under no pressure) at a higher clip.

Enough of Dublin! The conversion rate of Tyrone’s opponents is almost comically high. I double checked just to be sure. In Tyrone’s three games Dublin hit 68% of their shots, Monaghan 63% and Kildare 62%. It is only three games, and the comparable 2017 return was a combined 48% (five games) so I’m sure Mickey Harte and the backroom team are not overly concerned.

Kickouts

On the whole all teams are winning a lower percentage of their own kickouts when compared to the 2017 Championship campaign (73% won in 2017, 66% won in 2018) with none of the highlighted Division1 teams bucking this trend. Part of the reason for this is that the volume of short kickouts has dropped (a consequence of the new rule – either directly or indirectly as teams kicked longer in anticipation of the press that will surely come during the Summer) from 47% in the 2017 Championship to 40% in the 2018 League. Teams win their own short kickouts at a 94% clip so if there are significantly less of them the overall win rate will suffer. There was also a drop in the percentage of kickouts past the 45m line won by the kickout team – from 56.9% to 54.5%. Small enough but when you combine the two – a greater volume of longer kickouts with these longer ones won less frequently – we get a decent drop in the win rate.

Outside of the win rates it is interesting to see who is the most productive. Dublin are generally considered Kings of the kickout but in terms of net effectiveness they were only above average in this league campaign whilst Tyrone actually outperformed them in 2017. Mayo were very good on their own kickout during the league – they will be hoping that their overall Conversion Rate picks up so that they can build on this strong platform.

As is becoming a theme Galway was the outlier. Their net returns on kickouts are very low when compared to the other big guns – with one of the main reasons being that they continue to shun the short kickout. In their five TV games they went short on 27%. Mayo were 55%, Dublin were at 47% with Kerry and Tyrone at 41% apiece.

Volumes become low when we begin to segment like this so the percentages become less reliable however given that they are going short at a lower rate this allows the opposition to “tee off” on their longer ones. When they went past the 45m line Galway won 50% of their kickouts; the comparable figure was 65% for Dublin and 57% apiece for Kerry and Mayo.

2018 Division 1 Overview – post Rd4

March 8, 2018

Below is a quick overview of some of the more interesting numbers coming out of this year’s league. When listing individual teams, under any specific metric, note that it will be confined to those teams with at least three games played (see NOTE1)

Possessions

Team Possessions

11 games covered which equates to 22 returns – of which Galway have the three performances with the least amount of possessions. Not just the three lowest though – their two games against Donegal and Mayo are a full six possessions lower than the next lowest recorded by any other team. Intriguingly it is not that they are completely slowing games down and “dragging” the opposition down with them. They have easily lost the possession battle in all three games; by totals of 6 (v Kerry), 7 (v Mayo) and 8 (v Donegal).

Player possessions

That impression you have of Dublin dominating possession? Yeah it is not merely an impression. Of all team possessions with 20 or more player possessions (essentially player touches or strings of passing) Dublin have six of the top 11 and are the only team to top 30 player possessions in the one move.

Offensive production

Team

Perhaps surprisingly Dublin are not the most prolific offensive team in terms of output. They are below the average in the number of shots per game and shots per possession they attempt. What they lack for in quantity they more than make up for in quality however. They have a wonderfully high Conversion Rate on the shots they do take. Alloy this Conversion Rate, with the high volume of possessions, and you get your high scores.

Galway are highly proficient when they attack (high shots per possessions and Conversion Rate) but as noted above their (current) weakness could be the inability to create enough shots, through low possession counts, should the radar be off.

Donegal are shooting from everywhere with near on 30 shots per game – but their relatively low Conversion Rate is indicative of the fact that a lot of these are from “outside” the shooting zone.

Kerry’s new forward unit with O’Sé, Burns & Clifford are chugging along nicely whilst Mayo are struggling.

Player – shooting

The above table shows all players with at least 8 shots from play (see NOTE2).

Brannigan is currently on fire scoring 2 – 06 from his 10 shots as is McBrearty’s left peg (all 13 shots are point attempts with the left). Noticeable how these two are then followed by a squadron of Dublin attackers. This is to be somewhat expected given Dublin’s 65% Conversion Rate as a whole but it is still striking when you see that they have five of the top7 shooters by Expt Pts.

Player – assists

So this is new. I have started to track assists as another tool to view the front 8. This is somewhat subjective as a number of shots will come from players themselves making the breakthrough thus not producing an assist; or a defender might foul the ball thus providing the opposition with a shot from a free (does the player who induced the foul get an assist?); or the last pass may be an incidental popped hand pass (see NOTE3). As with any new metric there’ll have to be an element of trust on this one!

Unlike the shooting, which can have a positive or negative Expt Pts depending on whether the shots were converted, assists can only have a positive Expt Pts as the Expt Pts will relate to the point attempt rather than the shot outcome. But what we can do is plot the Expt Pts for shooting versus the Expt Pts for assists and get a more complete picture of a player’s offensive involvement

The above chart shows the shooting/assist Expt Pts interplay for those players listed previously with at least 8 shots from play. Where you want to be is in the top right quadrant (highlighted by the green circle) with a high positive Expt Pts for shooting (thus being very accurate) and a high Expt Pts for assists (thus showing a high level of attacking involvement).

Can we consider Fenton a midfielder? These offensive numbers are off the chart – high volume of shots, with high accuracy and high assists production. On his assists he has won three frees that led to Dean Rock attempts at goal, set up Kilkenny for his goal against Tyrone and also provided the assist for seven point attempts. Phenomenal.

McBrearty has two less assists than Fenton (9 v 11); he also has won three frees (that he himself took) but has set up two goal attempts and four point attempts.

Given his accuracy from play (0 – 09 from 13 point attempts) and the fact that he is Donegal’s main free taker (0 – 17 from 20; 85% Conversion Rate and +0.8 Expt Pts) it is some feat to also be so high on the assist chart. He is a very different player to Fenton but currently no less phenomenal.

The only problem with the first chart is that it hides the “non shooters”. Purely listing by the volume of assists we see the likes of A O’Shea, P Conroy and S O’Sé start to rise to the top.

Defensive production

Again perhaps surprisingly Dublin do not show up as best in class here. They allow more shots per possession than anyone else which, allied to their more open games, leads to more shots allowed per game than anyone else. What is noticeable however is the low quality of the opposition’s shooting (Conversion Rate at a very low 45%).

This low Conversion Rate can undoubtedly be attributed to excellent defending (more pressure on the shooter and/or teams taking shots from less favourable positions) but there must also be a mental aspect to this – teams forcing attempts knowing they have to keep up.

The argument against this is perhaps Galway. Their defensive numbers are very similar to Dublin’s yet it would be hard to argue that teams are under the same mental pressure when facing Galway as they are when facing Dublin.

I would contend however that Galway defend differently – tighter, more aggressive – and it is this that gives them the same defensive edge that Dublin seem to gain from their opponent’s mentality. Still it is definitely something worth looking at after the league – do teams shoot differently against Dublin as opposed to against anyone else?

On the offensive summary we commented on Kerry & Donegal’s higher numbers which was a nod to the fact that they had a good balance in attack (Kerry) or a defined game plan (Donegal could be deemed “shoot on sight”). They are both struggling on the back end however.

Kickouts

When looking at these tables it is again important to reference NOTE1 below – any changes may be as a consequence of natural differences between league and Championship rather than wholly attributable to the changes in the kickout rules.

Having said that there has definitely been a change in kickouts with the proportion of kickouts going short (landing inside the 45m line) dropping from 48% in the 2017 Championship to 37% this league campaign. That’s dramatic enough and the sample size – at 28% of the 2017 Championship games – is representative. Come the end of the league we can expect the proportion of short kickouts to have dropped by c10%.

We have seen Marks increase but not to any great degree. Instead we are back to the future where breaking ball is becoming more important. I define such kickouts as “contestable” (outside the 45m line and not claimed through a Mark – see NOTE4).

Kickout teams have increased the proportion of “contestable” kickouts they win but in both the 2017 Championship & 2018 League campaigns teams only manage to win c50% of their own “contestable” kickouts.

There are some interesting titbits looking at kickouts by team

Galway weren’t as fond of the short kickout as others in 2017 but have almost eschewed it completely so far with only 14% going short (remember the average is 38%). Given that the kickout team gets the ball ~95% of the time when it goes short this also explains why they are losing the possession battle as noted earlier (as does the fact that they are below average in winning their own “contestable” kickouts).

Donegal’s drop off is as pronounced (60% of kickouts in 2017 Championship went short versus 25% in the 2018 League) however this could be attributed to a change in philosophy under Declan Bonnar as much as anything else.

Dublin’s short ones have dropped off completely (66% in ’17 down to 44% thus far) – getting ready for the Summer perhaps when they expect a high press from the opposition? Also noticeable that despite their athleticism, and Cluxton’s radar like aim, they are only average on “contestable” kickouts.
Mayo & Kerry appear to have completely ignored the new rule (playing possum and not showing their Summer hand?). Kerry have been very good on their own kickout claiming a high of 69% of their own “contestable” kickouts.

Notes

Note1; 11 Division1 games in total. All shown on TV so any bias can be aimed at TG4 and/or EIR! Only Division1 game not completed thus far is Monaghan-v-Tyrone
Where there are comparisons to 2017 Championship numbers it is worth noting that we have no real previous comparisons between League and Championship campaigns. There has always been the sense that the League will be different but we just don’t know (I have been particularly lazy in not doing league campaigns before!).
This point, that there may be a natural difference between League & Championship, is particularly important when we come to kickouts as we have the additional overlay of the new kickout rules. Just because numbers change here does not mean it is as a direct result of the law changes – there may also be a natural difference between League & Championship outputs.

Note2: As an aside this shows the problem with judging players through their shooting. Even the most prolific shooter – McBrearty at 13 shots in three games – has a very small sample size

Note3; I have ~84% of shots not having an assist.

Note4; acknowledging that not all kickouts past the 45m line are contested – nor indeed that all Marks are un-contested. Still – it’s an easy label.

Dublin v Mayo AI Final 2017

September 19, 2017

Unfortunately I won’t be in a position to do a half decent write up until much later in the week so below are the usual battery of stats/tables. I will do up a write up at some stage and post it here – mainly for reference when these teams meet in 2018!!!

Listening and reading to some of the coverage post the final what jumps out to me is

O’Connor’s free at the end was outside his range – see the preview. It is so harsh on O’Connor that he takes a hit for stepping up to cover his team’s deficiencies and in some way lessens what he does elsewhere – see his brilliant long range point to draw the game level at the end.

Take a look at the assists table for players who had hugely impactful, under the radar, game

Mayo’s shooting was not poor! It was better than both 2016 AI Finals … it was just that Dublin’s shooting was exceptional. At one stage in the second half they were 0 – 11 from 12 for a Conversion Rate of 92%. Collective ice in their veins.

Overview

Kickouts

Dublin attack

Shot Chart

Shooting Table

Assists

Mayo attack

Shot Chart

Shooting Table

Assists

Dublin v Mayo 2017 All ireland preview

September 14, 2017

Immediate post-game reactions and numbers from the 2016 final can be found here (drawn game) and here (replay). Both will be referenced heavily below

Dublin Attack

We’ll get into the constituent parts below but as a collective Dublin have returned a whopping 61% Conversion Rate so far in 2017. The 188 shots they have attempted has netted them 19 points more (Expt Pts +19.05) than the average intercounty team would have scored. This Dublin attack is rolling.

Point attempts from play

Table 1 in the Appendix shows the breakdown per player but as a collective over two thirds (+13.87) of Dublin’s positive Expt Pts has come from their point attempts from play. The average Conversion Rate over the past 5 years has been 46%; thus far Dublin have returned 56%. The question is not how good they are – we know they are exceptional – but whether they can maintain that level of production?

And it is an open question as we have seen this before. Coming into both the 2015 and 2016 finals Dublin’s forwards were also flying with pre final Conversion Rates of 57% in 2015 (Expt Pts +17.63) and 51% in 2016 (Expt Pts +8.25). In the 2015 final they were impressive in maintaining their high returns with a 57% Conversion Rate (0 – 08 from 14) and a one game Expt Pts of +1.57 (in poor weather it must be remembered). However in the two games against Mayo last year they stumbled to a very poor 37% (0 – 14 from 38; Expt Pts -4.72).

The question is whether this stumble was induced by facing Mayo or was it more of a Dublin blip? There is no way to categorically state either way but looking from the outside I would give Mayo a great deal of credit. Coming into the 2016 final Mayo, in their six games, had allowed a Conversion Rate of 41% (0 – 45 from 109) as opposed to the 51% Dublin had been putting up. Across the two games the 37% Dublin achieved was much more in line with what Mayo had been allowing.

We have a similar scenario this year. Dublin are flying with the aforementioned Conversion Rate of 56% but again over a nine game span Mayo’s defence have only allowed a Conversion Rate of 41% (which, as an aside, shows remarkable consistency year to year). Can Mayo repeat their 2016 trick and “drag” Dublin’s Conversion Rate down in the final?

In an effort to explain the drop in Dublin’s shooting I created a pressure index (see Note1) and noted that Mayo were consistent across the two games in applying strong or severe pressure to just under half of Dublin’s point attempts (45% in the drawn game and 44% in the replay). In 2017 – across the nine games – Mayo have applied strong or severe pressure to 46% of their opponents point attempts. This has risen to 59% in the last four games.

So we know that Dublin can shoot and that they can carry it over (2015 final) however we also know that Mayo stymied them in both games last year and that the pressure index for their 2017 season is trending upwards.

One difference, for Dublin, observed when comparing this year to the last two All Irelands is just who is taking the shots. Below are the top 5 point takers coming into the last three finals and whilst there was a change from ’15 to ’16 the new entrants then were generally known quantities in McManamon & Rock. With Connolly suspended and Brogan & McManamon mainly coming off the bench there is a newer, fresher, look to the Dublin strike force.

Mannion & Andrews are well known to the Mayo defenders at this stage but O’Callaghan – despite there being a mountain of video evidence on him – is new and may cause the Mayo defenders to sit off initially; remember it was the relatively unknown Costelloe off the bench that did the damage in last year’s replay.

Deadballs

Given their experience, both last year and in their run to the final this year, Mayo may believe that they can handle the Dublin forwards. But what they will have to be very conscious of is fouling. Rock had a poor day in last year’s drawn game (0 – 03 from 7 (43%); Expt Pts of -1.58) but was then devastating in the replay (0 – 07 from 7 with an Expt Pts of +1.58).

He, and Dublin as a whole, have maintained this form throughout the 2017 Championship returning a barely credible 94% Conversion Rate (0 – 33 from 35) with an Expt Pts of +6.43 (see Chart 1 in the Appendix).
A special note of praise for Rock here. Although he had an off day in the 2016 drawn final he has been phenomenal since basically being removed from free taking duties at the back end of 2015. In 11 Championship games since the start of 2016 he is 92% and as the below graphic shows he is not only consistent “inside” where he is 96% but also outside (75%). Not only has he accuracy but he has accuracy with length.

Mayo cannot hope that the Rock from the drawn 2016 final appears. Instead they must expect that the Rock we have seen from the start of 2016, and in the 2016 replay, shows up. They gave up seven scoreable frees in the replay; in 2017 they have given up an average of 6.6 shots at goal from frees. Unless defending a lead their target has to be to minimise Rock’s opportunities from frees to seven or less.

Goal attempts

Dublin have – surprisingly given their opposition and reputation – only been average on goal attempts. In 2015 they were averaging 6.0 shots at goal per game but had a phenomenal 60% Conversion Rate (18 – 04 from 30). In 2016 this reduced dramatically to 2.2 attempts & a 46% (5 – 00 from 11) Conversion Rate. So far this year it is back up to 5.0 attempts a game but with a basically average Conversion Rate of 36% (9 – 01 from 25). In the 2015 final they manufactured 4 goal attempts but couldn’t convert any whilst in the two 2016 games they only created four distinct attempts at goal – but did manage to score in the most unconventional manner!

It’s all a bit of a rollercoaster. I think it is fair to say that Dublin are a lot less goal hungry than previous incarnations but this year has seen them somewhat pick up their attempts per game.

Mayo attack

Whereas Dublin are on fire Mayo have been hotter and colder, both from game to game and within games, than any other team. They returned a Conversion Rate of 41% against Galway and 71% against Cork; they scored 1 – 09 from just 12 shots in extra time against Derry after producing 0 – 01 from 15 attempts in a 25 minute spell in the second half. Against Cork they scored 0 -14 from their first 15 point attempts from play.

Mayo are the walking embodiment of the fact that you can twist stats to back up any argument

Point attempts from play

Looking at the nine games in the round (see Table 2 in the appendix) however we can say that their point taking has been just above average (50% Conversion Rate; +2.21 Expt Pts). But this is a step up on their 2016 campaign (46% Conversion Rate; +1.62).

There’s a slight anomaly in the above figures in that Mayo’s Conversion Rate has increased but the Expt Pts has remained more or less static. That’s because Mayo have attempted much more shots from central locations this year compared to last year. In a most Un-Mayo like fashion they have made life easier on themselves!

If we run an imaginary line vertically from the outer edges of the D to the 45m line we create a central channel. In 2016 34% of Mayo’s point attempts came from inside this channel. In 2017 this has risen to 51%.

A lot has been made of Mayo’s reliance on Moran and C O’Connor. Between them they have attempted 32% of Mayo’s point attempts returning 34% of their scores however in truth this is not too far removed from Dublin’s spread. Dublin have relied on O’Callaghan & Mannion for 29% of their point attempts and 30% of their scores. Now the argument can be made that Dublin have more alternatives in Connolly, Brogan, Kilkenny, Rock, Andrews et al should you shut the front two down – and that’s fair – but there are only so many shots to go around. And as good a unit as Kerry’s defence couldn’t shut them down. Moran & C O’Connor took 28% of Mayo’s point attempts across the two semi-finals with a combined Conversion Rate of 72% and Expt Pts of +2.89

Another notable point re Mayo’s shooting is that the “back-up”, the next ten players by shot volume (see Table2 in the Appendix), have been as accurate as Moran & C O’Connor with a 53% Conversion Rate (0 – 55 from 104) compared to Moran/C O’Connor’s 54% (0-34 from 63). Have Mayo got two top shooters? Yes. Have they ready-made, volume based replacements if they are shut down? No. Can the workload be spread and the efficiency maintained if they are shut down? Yes.

What of the Dublin defence? Coming into the 2016 final Mayo were running at an about average Conversion Rate of 45% (Expt Pts +0.89). For the two finals their combined numbers were 0 – 14 from 31 (Conversion Rate of 45%; Expt Pts of +0.22). The sample size is small but Dublin’s defence had no real additional effect on Mayo’s efficiency – Mayo carried over their conversion rate. Where they did have an effect however was in limiting the attempts Mayo had. Coming into the 2016 final Mayo had taken 20.7 point attempts per game. In the final this dropped to 15.5.

This year so far Mayo have averaged (again with remarkable consistency) 20.5 point attempts per game. In 2016 Dublin – prior to the final – had allowed the opposition to take 16.6 point attempts per game but this has risen to 18.6 in 2017. So not only has Mayo’s efficiency on the same volume of shots increased but Dublin are allowing more shots and (in 2016 at least) didn’t have an effect on Mayo’s efficiency.

Deadballs

C O’Connor has been rock steady on frees throughout his career converting, when the pressure has been at its most intense, 86% (0-55 from 64 Expt Pts of +4.99) in semi-final and finals alone from 2012 to 2016. His range does appear to have shortened however.

The above chart shows C O’Connor’s 2017 frees in yellow and using the same boundaries as the Rock chart above we can see that O’Connor is as good as ever “inside”. He has recorded very similar numbers to Rock at 95% (0 – 35 from 37) however he has definitely struggled “outside” recording a very poor (relatively speaking) 35%.
The two black dots on the chart are Jason Doherty’s attempts in the semi-final replay versus Kerry whilst the red cross is the free that O’Connor missed at the death in last year’s replay. As discussed at the time you would not have wanted anyone else standing over that free given his performance in the most pressurised of stages previously but it was definitely on the outer edge of his range.

Given his range limitations, his record this year and how comfortable Doherty looked the last day surely there’s a case for handing over the longer range attempts?

Apart from C O’Connor’s range – which does look to have a ready-made alternative should Mayo wish to employ Doherty – another area of concern would be frees from the right. Attempts from this area are sparse in the above chart (C O’Connor handed the ball to Moran for at least one free from this area against Kerry) as you would imagine C O’Connor is only too aware of his limitations. The issue was only exasperated by McLoughlin missing his two frees from inside the 20m on the right against Derry and Sligo.

Everyone knows O’Connor doesn’t want to take frees from wide right whilst the alternative, in McLoughlin, has, being kind, been shaky. Mayo know this is a weakness. We know it. You can be damn well sure that the Dublin defence knows it too.

Goal attempts

Mayo have been slightly below Dublin in their attempts per game at 4.2 however have been ahead of Dublin with a Conversion Rate of 42% (16 – 03 from 38 attempts). In the round that’s 5.6pts per game from both for their goal attempts (Dublin 5.60, Mayo 5.67).

Kickouts

One of the most eagerly anticipated duals will be the kickouts. How successful will Mayo be at getting their, what at times look extremely dicey, short kickouts away? Will they push up on Dublin? Once won how good will each team be at manoeuvring the subsequent possession into a shot and score?

Dublin Kickouts

See appendix for raw numeric tables

To date Dublin have gone short (see Note 2) on 66% (63 from 96) of their kickouts winning them all and managing to produce a shot from 73% which resulted in 3-27. That’s 0.57 points for every kickout won. Which is incredible. The returns for all other kickouts won is 0.45 – which doesn’t account for the kickouts the lost when the ball went past the 45 – whilst Mayo are a net (unlike Dublin they have lost 9 of their own short kickouts which has resulted in the opposition getting 0 – 03) 0.33 points per short kickout.

You have to imagine that Mayo will look to disrupt this wherever they can. To date 50% of the opposition’s kickouts have gone short in Mayo games with the opposition getting 0.31 points per kickout won. Mayo have gotten their hands on 10% (12 out of 120) of the opposition’s kickouts and when they do they go for goal – scoring 2 – 03 off those 12.
In the two finals last year Dublin had a similar split to this year in that 65% of their kickouts went short but Mayo had much more success keeping Dublin to just 0.12 points per short kickout won (0 – 03 off 25). And that’s without referencing the two short ones that Mayo won.

When we compare this to what Dublin have done to date in the 2017 Championship you have to believe that whilst Mayo may not be able to stop Dublin completely, and may not be able to clamp down as rigidly as they did last year, they should at least provide a much more substantial obstacle than Dublin have faced hitherto fore.

Mayo kickouts

Across both 2016 games Mayo lost five (17%) of their 29 short kickouts against Dublin including two at the death of the drawn game that surely had a part to play in Clarke being dropped for the replay. Clarke is now firmly ensconced as Mayo’s No.1 but the short kickout roulette can still occur at any moment as they have lost 9 across six different games.

Mayo have been somewhat fortunate in that none of those 14 lost short kickouts (5 against Dublin and 9 this year) have resulted in a goal – instead 0 – 08 has come from them – but it is only a matter of time. But Mayo will continue to roll that dice, even in the face of the Dublin pressure, as it has served them well overall. Whilst not as spectacular as Dublin’s 0.57 Mayo have returned 0.39 points for every short kickout won this year.

That does rise to 0.43 for their own kickouts that they win past the 45 however they only win 63% of these – for all the anxiety they give their fans on the short ones they are still winning 90%. It’s almost a no brainer. No matter how many palpitations they give you if your returns are the same on the short ones as on the longer ones but you win more of the short ones – well you keep going short. That is until you give away the inevitable calamitous goal … let’s hope for Mayo’s sake their luck holds for one more game.


Appendix

Table 1 – Dublin point attempts by player

Chart 1 – Dublin 2017 deadballs

Table 2 – Mayo point attempts by player

Table 3 – Dublin 2017 kickout overview

Table 4 – Mayo 2017 kickout overview

Note 1 – Pressure Index explanation; this is a subjective metric where the pressure applied to a shot from play is given a range from 0 to 3. Very generally
• 0 = no pressure applied,
• 1 = very little (e.g. a player running alongside but not tackling)
• 2 = strong (e.g. on the shoulder, catching the shooters eye by flying in to tackle)
• 3 = intense (e.g. a block, delivering a shoulder just as the shot is being taken)

It does come with a warning as it is subjective but seeing as there is only one person applying the metric you would expect that there would be a level of consistency when a large enough volume of shots is reviewed.

Note 2 – Kickout definition
• Short = ball landing inside the 45
• Mid = ball landing between the 45 & 65
• Long – ball landing past the 65

Again some judgement is required for contested balls around the 45/65 but on a large enough dataset any kinks will be lost to the averages

Dublin v Tyrone 2017 AI SF

September 5, 2017

Unfortuantely I haven’t been able to get to the game and at this stage there really is nothing I can add to the commentary that is already out there.

Instead I will just leave the raw outputs here in case anyone wants them

Game overview

Dublin attack

Shot Chart

Assists & shooting overview

Tyrone attack

Shot chart

Assists & shooting overview

Kickout overview

O’Connor & Rock from frees (Rd3 of league)

March 3, 2017

From an analysis and review standpoint I am forever railing against recency bias. This “railing” comes about however because of its pervasiveness. It’s an in-built near automatic response. And of course I fell into the trap myself.

Watching the Mayo – Roscommon game last week Cillian O’Connor missed a central free about 33metres out and I had immediate flashbacks to (a) a number of missed frees in the previous round against Kerry and (b) that missed free in last year’s All Ireland final.

Was this latest missed free a sign of some cliff having been reached? Was one of Mayo’s most consistent weapons beginning to malfunction? Of course not.

oconnor-post-rd3

In the three league games to date O’Connor has hit 79% of his frees. Well above the ~72% Championship average. On Expt Pts his tally is -0.39; he has basically scored what is expected. Now the argument could be made that someone with O’Connor’s reputation should be in positive Expt Pts territory. Fine. However we must always remember that the Expt Pts tally is based off Championship returns. Frees taken in (mainly) pristine weather on (mainly) pristine surfaces. O’Connor is fine. To be slightly off in the middle of the league is acceptable? For comparison Dean Rock is running at 75% conversion rate with an Expt Pts tally of -0.86.

rock-post-rd3

What I did argue however in last year’s All Ireland review is that O’Connor had an arc outside of which he was vulnerable (the missed free in the drawn All Ireland being right on this arc). Given weather, pitch conditions etc. it is fair to expect that arc to contract at this time of year and if we placed this contracted arc over O’Connor’s frees to date then I would suggest that arguement is still relevant. He has taken 6 frees on the edges of this constricted arc and converted 3 – 50% Success Rate. He has also missed his only 45.

So in conclusion – bloody recency bias!! But O’Connor is generally fine and still remains one of the most consistent free takers once within his range.

Dublin v Mayo 2016 All Ireland Final Replay

October 5, 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
Dublin 49 38 26 1 – 15 17.59
Mayo 48 36 25 1 – 14 15.62

Attack Rates, Shot Rates, Conversion Rates and points per possessions; all the main metrics were incredibly even – as to be expected in a one point game that lasted over 80 minutes – but was there anything in particular that got Dublin over the line?

Dublin shooting

Deadballs

Dublin, and thus Dean Rock, were spectacular on the day from deadballs converting 100% from eight attempts with an Expt Pts of +2.10. Connolly’s penalty was inch perfect but coming in to the year the conversion rate was 83% (24 goals from 29 shots) so the Expt Pts for a penalty is very high at 2.48. He is expected to convert that. The positive Expt Pts is almost entirely Rock’s.

He scored 0 – 07 on seven attempts with an Expt Pts of +1.58. This from the player who returned a Conversion Rate of 43% (0 – 03 from 7 shots & an Expt Pts of -1.58) in the drawn game. He was essentially removed from frees in last year’s final taking just two of the nine Dublin deadballs after converting just 40% (0 – 02 from five) in that year’s semi-final. That was a performance with an exclamation mark.

This, along with the performance against Kerry in this year’s semi-final (0 – 10 from 11 attempts & Expt Pts of +2.48), should banish any notion that he cannot deliver on the big day. More on Cillian O’Connor below but both himself and Rock are now clearly the best free takers in the country.

Goal chances

One of the more remarkable aspects of the final was the fact that Dublin did not manufacture a shot on goal from play. They did have a few breaks through the middle, such as McManamon being stripped by Harrison after the long kickout from Cluxton or Fitzsimons strolling through the centre at the death, but never got to pull the trigger.

This is the first game since 2012 that this has happened and credit is due to the collective Mayo defence. Especially how they learned the lessons from the first day with Fenton not being allowed drift in behind at any stage.

Point attempts

Dublin recorded a 44% Conversion Rate (0 – 08 from 18) and an Expt Pts tally of -1.69 when shooting from play. In and of itself this is poor but set against the returns from the drawn game (30% from 20 shots and an Expt Pts tally of -3.03) and how Mayo handled Tipperary and Tyrone (26% & -3.11 and 27% & -3.36) it was a step up.

In the drawn game it was highlighted how 50% of Dublin’s scores came from shots with no pressure applied whilst Mayo were able to apply intense pressure to 45% of their shots. Dublin only converted 22% (0 – 02 from 9 attempts) of those taken under this pressure.

Mayo managed to apply the same levels of intense pressure here (44%, 8 of 18 attempts) however Dublin’s shooting was better scoring on 50% (0 – 04) as opposed to the 22% in the drawn game. The level of pressure is illustrated b the fact that Mayo blocked three of those eigth but Dublin just squeezed more out.

That’s not to say that all their shooting was good or improved. I graded 8 shots where no pressure was applied with Dublin only scoring 0 – 03. Undoubtedly it is due to small sample size randomness but on the day those shooting under intense pressure performed better than those that had no pressure applied.

Mayo Shooting

Goal attempts

Mayo had one shot at goal and what a shot. A beautiful goal by Keegan.

A lot of ink was spent on the run up to the game on the battle between Connolly & Keegan and the impact/intensity of that battle can be viewed through the two point attempts they combined for. On Keegan’s point attempt in the 25th minute it is Connolly flying in to put him off. For Connolly’s point attempt in the 34th minute it is Keegan flying in to try – unsuccessfully – and put Connolly off.

keegan-goal-v-dublin

I bring the point attempts up above as when Keegan takes the shot at goal Connolly is not in the picture. When S O’Shea launches the ball into A O’Shea on the 45 Connolly (11) has Keegan (5) within arm’s length but doesn’t track him. By the time Keegan pulls the trigger it is Fitzsimons (22) who has put in an incredible shift from trying to block O’Shea’s kick pass to get back on Keegan’s heel.

Point attempts

Mayo converted 38% of their point attempts (0 – 05 from 13 shots) with an Expt Pts of -0.85.

Dublin managed to properly pressurise five of those 13 shots (38% – similar to Mayo’s 44% on Dublin’s shooting) which was a big step up from the Dublin defence. The last day they only managed to pressurise two, or 11%, of Mayo’s point attempts.

Mayo responded well to this pressure scoring 0 – 03 from the five shots taken under pressure. The problem came when they were placed under no, or minimal, pressure. Here they only scored 0 – 02 from 8 attempts (25% – in the draw game it was 0 – 09 from 16 attempts – 56%).As an illustration C O’Shea & Jason Doherty dropped shots into the goalkeeper’s hands from very central positions when under no pressure whilst Andy Moran pulled one wide from the left inside the 20m line.

They created the chances – the execution just wasn’t there.

Deadballs

Up until the final free kick Cillian O’Connor had been flawless converting 100% of his frees (0 – 09 from 9 attempts) with an Expt Pts of +1.34. This followed on from converting 100% of his frees (0 – 05 frees from 5 attempts) in the drawn game.

And then we had that final free. The average, from 2012 -2015, for the area of the pitch that the free was attempted from (sector6) was 64% on 650 attempts. For the same period I have O’Connor converting 75% from this sector (0 – 09 from 12 attempts). Unsurprisingly, given his overall returns, O’Connor has been – historically – above average from this range.

coc-deadballs-2016

His shot charts for frees in 2016 is above. Overall he was 77% with an Expt Pts of +1.28 and 67% in Sector 6. Below his historical averages but nothing untoward.

What is apparent from the above however is that there is an arc – in the same shape as the D but starting inside the two “x”s at the 20m line above – outside of which is accuracy becomes human! Every free taker has this arc. Basically his range. But in this instance the final free (marked in the above with a black “x”) is right on the O’Connor’s 2016 arc. He had two frees from a similar range against Galway and Westmeath converting one and missing the other.

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows the esteem I hold O’Connor’s deadball ability in. He is the best around (though Rock has now joined him). There is no one else I would want taking that free but it was no “gimme”. It was right on the edge of his 2016 comfort zone.

Kickouts

Mayo won 14 of their 20 kickouts. Of those six were taken by Clarke with Mayo gaining possession on all six whist the split was 8 – 6 in Mayo’s favour when Hennelly was in goal. On its own that looks very poor for Hennelly however of Clarke’s six kickouts we only saw where five landed and of those four (80%) went short. Dublin did not pressurise the recipient on any of these four. Clarke’s kickouts were very safe.

Of Hennelly’s 14 kickouts only six, or 43% ,went short. Hennelly, whether by choice, by design or due to the Dublin press went longer than Clarke and as such placed more in harm’s way. The flip side of this is that Mayo had a net score of four points on Hennelly’s 14 kickouts (scored 1-03 and let in 0-02 directly from the possession’s gained) whereas the net benefit of winning Clarke’s six short kickouts was 0 – 01

A lot has been written about the decision to start Hennelly, and the success of kickouts is as much to do with the outfield players as it is the goalkeeper, but Hennelly was, despite the commentary, coming out on top in terms of end product on the kickouts.

Again the commentary was that Cluxton had a superb game from kickouts. He undoubtedly had some absolute peaches in the second half when he pinged two straight to Flynn & McManamon in midfield but is our view of the overall performance coloured by these just after the Mayo keeper switch?

Mayo lost six out of 20, Dublin lost five out of 21. Better but by no means outstandingly so. By the time Hennelly had lost six Cluxton had lost four. Mayo had a net gain of four points. Dublin? Broke even. Scored 0-02 from the possessions they gained on their own kickout but also conceded 0 – 02 fro he five they lost.

Again a goalkeeper’s role is not all about kickouts. Nor is the goalkeeper the sole reason for a kickout ending to a score. I may be trying to push too positive a spin on Hennelly’s performance (forget trying – I am pushing!) *but* the very negative narrative – in comparison to the very positive one on Cluxton’s – around Hennelly’s kickouts just doesn’t ring entirely true.

Appendix

For a wrap up find the stats for the two games combined below

dublin-mayo-finals-2016-combined

How anyone can categorically state that this Mayo team is “gone”, or “cannot win” the big one is beyond me. There was the width of a cigarette paper between these teams. And Dublin are considered one of the greats.

Dublin’s shot chart
dublin-shooting-v-mayo-16-replay

Mayo’s shot chart
mayo-shooting-v-dublin-16-replay
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half, red = goal attempt

Dublin v Mayo 2016 All Ireland Final

September 20, 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
Dublin 57 46 31 2 – 09 17.30
Mayo 53 40 26 0 – 15 14.80

Dublin’s returns don’t look too bad – scoring 2 – 09 from an Expected return of 17.30. Those two goals however came from non shots (yes they created the chances but from an Expt Pts vantage they don’t count as they didn’t come from a Dublin shot on goal) meaning that Dublin’s actual shots returned more than 8 points below Expected and showed a Conversion Rate of 29%.

In their five games this year Dublin were showing a 61% Conversion Rate and a combined Expt Pts value of +11.21. In the 23 other Championship games since 2013 Dublin’s Conversion Rate has only dropped below 40% once – and that was a 39% against the ultra-defensive Westmeath in the 2015 Leinster final. The next lowest after that is 44%.

This was a spectacular derailing of the well-oiled machine. How did it happen?

Dublin’s shooting

Goal attempts

Dublin had three goal attempts in two different sequences (Brogan’s shot after Fenton’s original chance was saved as well as Fenton’s second attempt) which produced one goal – but the goal did not come from any of the three Dublin shots. As such the Expt Pts on the three shots was -3.42 (even though Dublin did get 3 points from the scramble – God the Expt Pts model really doesn’t like own goals!).

Note that for the second goal there was no actual goal shot – Rock spilled Connolly’s (wondrous) pass before Boyle put his foot through it.

Just on those two Fenton goal attempts – they were eerily similar with four different Mayo players committing the same basic “lack of communication” mistake.

dub-goal-chance-v-mayo-16-ai-final-actual-1st

In the first Mayo are basically set with S O’Shea (8) on Fenton (8). Fenton lays the ball off to the wrap around player and drifts towards goal however both O’Shea and Higgins (4) then go towards the player with the ball. Neither goes with Fenton.

dub-goal-chance1-v-mayo-16-ai-final

Same again for the second. This time replace McLoughlin (10) for O’Shea and Durcan (7) for Higgins. Fenton lays the ball off to the wraparound runner and continues to drift towards goal. Both Mayo players get sucked to the ball leaving Fenton acres of room in behind.

Deadballs

Unfortunately there is just no hiding from the fact that Rock had a bad day. He scored 0 – 03 from seven attempts for an Expt Pts tally of -1.57.

Much had been made of his 93% success rate this year coming in to the game (0-37 from 40 shots with an Expt pts of +7.98 from frees and 45s) however it must be remembered that he was also on 93% coming in to the 2015 semi-finals. From there on he only converted 0 – 02 from 5 attempts in the two 2015 games against Mayo and only attempted two of Dublin’s nine deadballs in the final against Kerry.

He is undoubtedly the real deal however there have to be concerns about his ability to maintain the averages at the end of the season. His excellent performance against Kerry had put some of these concerns to bed (0 -10 from 11 on frees & 45s with an Expt Pts tally of +2.48) but he’ll have to step up in the replay to silence them again

Then we have Connolly’s sideline attempt. Up until the start of this year’s Championship 18 point attempts from a sideline had been charted with a combined 28% Success Rate. Connolly is a better player than the majority, if not all, of those players who had taken those 18 attempts however (a) he is not the free taker and (b) those 18 were probably taken in better conditions and not in the 74th minute of a pulsating All Ireland final. It was a punt but he was always more likely to give the ball to Mayo having missed than having scored.

Point attempts

That leaves 20 point attempts throughout the game which saw Dublin convert 30% (0 – 06) with an Expt Pts tally of -3.03. Granted the conditions were not great but that is just very, very poor. And it was not confined to a handful of individuals having a day off – 12 separate Dublin players had a point attempt. There was just no sign of this.

In reviewing the SF against Tipperary we noted that the Mayo defence had restricted Tyrone to 27% and an Expt Pt return of -3.36 whilst holding the previously free scoring Tipperary to 26% and -3.11. We now add Dublin’s 30% and -3.03 to that tally. They are obviously doing something right. Against Tipperary & Tyrone they applied pressure to 66% of their point attempts when the norm is somewhere around the 51% mark. Again here they pressurised – to one extent or another – 75% of Dublin’s shots. But that doesn’t fully tell the story. In an attempt to somewhat measure what they were doing I graded all pressure on the shooter from 0 (no pressure applied) to 3 (intense pressure)

pressure-index

As can be seen Mayo were very good at applying intense pressure to 45% of Dublin’s point attempts. We don’t have any other comparison point for this but Dublin only applied a similar amount of pressure to 11% of Mayo’s shots.

It is no fluke that Dublin struggled – but it is strange that they struggled so much.

Note Colm Boyle shows up really well in this context. I have him charted as applying pressure to four separate shots with three of the being strong pressure (one “2” in the above table and two “3”s)

Mayo shooting

Goal attempts

Mayo had two clear cut goal attempts coming away with 0-01. The first fell very early to Durcan who had his shot blocked by Cooper. Hindsight is 20:20 and all that but looking at the position just as he was about to strike you would love to have seen him ship it left where they had an overlap with two of their best finishers standing on the square
mayo-goal-chance1-v-dub-16-ai-final
The second one was Moran’s attempt on the 52nd minute
mayo-goal-chance2-v-dub-16-ai-final
There was a split second where O’Connor was free on the square and when I put the still up on Twitter there was a split opinion on whether the ball needed to be fisted across. Personally the picture makes a fisted pass look a lot easier than real time did – it would have to have been spot on – and I would want Moran having the confidence to take that shot on.

Point attempts

Mayo were slightly above average with a Conversion Rate of 50% (0-09 from 18 shots) and an Expt Pts of +1.07.
Much like Dublin there was a large spread of shooters with ten different players having a shot. O’Connor & Vaughan showed well here scoring 0 – 02 from three attempts each but the overall spread means that no one really stood out.

Again like Dublin however there were some wild efforts in there – not sure either O’Shea should be taking pot shots outside the 45!

Deadballs

Immediately after the game concluded the thought had been that O’Connor’s deadball day had been spectacular. That however was more in comparison to Rock than anything else. O’Connor converted 86% (0 – 05 from 6 shots) with an Expt Pts was +0.41. A good day’s return on the numbers; nothing more.

However when looking at that stat line we need to take into account the context of the game. If Rock has question marks about him on the big day then O’Connor is the exact opposite – he thrives on it.

In eight All Ireland finals and semi-finals since 2013 O’Connor is 81% on frees and 45s (0 – 09 from 48 attempts) with an Expt Pts tally of +2.44. When everything is to play for O’Connor delivers well above average.

Kickouts

Dublin won 18 of their 22 but only managed 0-01, or 0.06 points per kickout won, from those 18 wins. In the 2016 Championship to date that was 0.51 points per kickout won. Another one to chalk down for the Mayo defence.

Another minor victory can be noted in the time it took Cluxton to get his kicks off. A lot had been made in the build up to the match as to how Cluxton looked to get his kickouts taken within six seconds. We didn’t see a number of the kickouts but when we did Cluxton was regularly taking over 15 seconds to kick the ball out (the first few were indicative; – stalled as had to be retaken, 15 second wait, 16 seconds, didn’t see on TV coverage, 12 seconds, 14 seconds, delayed for the black card, 20 seconds).

Mayo were, score wise, better racking up 0 – 04 on the 16 kickouts they won – 0.25 points per kickout – however they also coughed up 0 – 02 and nearly had a calamitous last few minutes when Clarke hit three poor kickouts in quick succession. The first was lofted to Parsons on the 45m line on the right wing allowing Mannion to break the ball to O’Gara forcing Barrett to give away a free that Rock pointed. On the resultant kickout Clarke managed to pick out Connolly short left who took one look and pointed. Clarke then placed Higgins under all sorts of trouble when he went short right.

Up until those three kickouts Mayo had taken 17 winning 14 – however when they went past the 45 they had lost three out of four. Given this, and the sequence above, it will be interesting to see if Dublin push up the next day putting Clarke under pressure and forcing him to go longer.

Appendix

Dublin’s shot chart
dublin-shooting-v-mayo-16

Mayo’s shot chart
mayo-shooting-v-dublin-16
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half, red = goal attempt