Posts Tagged ‘Dublin’

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.

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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

Dublin v Kerry 2016 AI Semi Final

August 30, 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 56 42 35 0 – 22 19.14
Kerry 51 35 26 2 – 14 16.48

Normally we look at the game as a whole however this one ebbed and flowed to such an extent that it may be better to review how both teams did within the various segments that made up the game.

Kerry’s slow start
Colm Cooper and Donnchadh Walsh both missed close in chances early on – Cooper pulling an attempt on the spin whilst Walsh was off balance after a thunderous shoulder from Byrne – which put them in a hole both in terms of the match and their shooting returns (as both were from the zone immediately in front of goal Kerry’s Expt Pts were -1.50 by the 3rd minute!).

They then went ten minutes without another shot by which time Dublin had scored 0 – 04 from eight point attempts (shooting was average here with an Expt Pts of +0.26) whilst McMahon also missed Dublin’s only goal chance.

As an aside Kerry are only the second team since the start of the 2012 Championship to restrict Dublin to just one shot at goal in a game. The other, somewhat surprisingly, was Meath in this year’s Leinster Championship.

We then had a period of sublime accuracy as both teams combined for 0 – 11 from just 14 shots over a 16 minute spell (79% combined with an Expt Pts of +2.84). Kerry were the main contributors here scoring 0 – 06 from just the six shots (Expt Pts of +1.99) with Geaney hitting three from play. Dublin thus scored 0 – 05 from 8 shots and whilst they did not quite attain Kerry’s level of accuracy it was still above expected (Expt Pts +0.85).

So up until the goal Dublin were well on top in the shot count – 17 to Kerry’s 8 – but Kerry’s accuracy was keeping them within reach.

But it wasn’t just in terms of shots that Dublin were ahead. They had 28 possessions & 20 attacks (71% Attack Rate) to Kerry’s 20 possessions and just 9 attacks (45% Attack Rate). Kerry were being consumed. The extra possessions came from Dublin’s success on Kerry’s kickouts. Dublin had six kickouts prior to the first goal winning all six. Kerry had 14 kickouts but only managed to win seven with three of those going short. So when the Kerry kickout became contestable Dublin were 7 – 4 ahead. Dublin winning the opposition’s kickouts is not that much of a surprise any more however Kerry refused to help themselves here. There was no variation – all 11 were directed at either Moran or Maher and all went mid-range between the 20 and 45metre lines. Fenton, MacAuley & Kilkenny in particular had a field day.

And what of Kerry’s anaemic attack? Yes their forwards were (extremely) economic scoring 0-06 from nine attacks (Dublin were 0-09 from 20) but to only manufacture nine attacks? A lot of this can be attributed to the plan Kerry employed early with long balls being sent in to Colm Cooper & Donaghy. They were getting some success but not enough were sticking and Johnny Cooper can take a lot of the credit for this. He was immense in this period breaking five such balls away from both (two from Donaghy & three from Colm Cooper).

And then the goal
Of Dublin’s first six kickouts three went to the right and short with no pressure applied. Then the 7th went horribly awry. All of a sudden the tables turned. After only conjuring up nine attacks in 29 minutes Kerry manufactured seven in the last 8 minutes with six shots producing 2-02 (Expt Pts of +3.44). Dublin couldn’t get out of their own way losing four of their five kickouts in this period and only managing two possessions in ~8 minutes (one was lost inside Kerry’s 45 when McManamon was tackled and another when Kilkenny fisted the ball away in Kerry’s 65)

Dubs don’t panic
As the numbers from above show Dublin were absolutely rattled going in at half time. They had dominated the game for 30 minutes but had come undone under a deluge of Kerry counter punches.

What happened next says a lot about where this Dublin team are at. They came out in the second half and didn’t panic. They just continued on in the same vein that allowed them to dominate the first 30 minutes. Within 14 minutes of the restart they were back level.

Again the “volume” pressure began to tell. In those opening 14 minutes the shot count was 8 – 3 in Dublin’s favour. This time it was Dublin who were deadly accurate scoring 0 – 06 from those eight shots (Expt Pts +1.47). Dean Rock had a great game (0 -12 from 13 shots including two 45s and two from play) but he was particularly good in this period scoring 0 – 04 (including a 45 & one from play) as well as providing an assist for Fenton’s equaliser.

Kerry’s earlier efficiency failed them here with the only point they scored coming from a Cooper free whilst he also dropped one short off his left into Cluxton’s hands.

One thing that did change here was the possession pattern. For those opening 14 minutes Kerry were “only” 11-9 down in terms of possessions. The reason being that they started to change their kickouts to shorter ones. In that opening period Kerry had seven kickouts with four going short (Dublin did still win the “contestable ones 2-1). Dublin only had the two kickouts in this period winning both – interestingly neither went short!

Kerry mini revival
To all intents & purposes Kerry looked done. They had now played the guts of 50 minutes and had been comprehensively outplayed for 40. To their eternal credit they were far from done however.

Around the time of Fenton’s equaliser Kerry introduced BJ Keane, James O’Donoghue and Brian O’Beaglaoich within five minutes of each other. The freshness – or just their innate obdurateness – saw them wrestle control back manufacturing 0 – 03 from five shots in ten minutes whilst Dublin went into their shell somewhat managing just two wides (an ill-advised long range attempt from Byrne and Rock’s only miss of the game) from a relatively paltry five possessions.

Initially there were 20 possessions in the opening 14 minutes of the half but this slowed to 11 in the next 11 minutes. The game slowed right down and it suited Kerry.

The finale
And then we had the last 15 minutes within which Dublin were frankly superb. They had nine possessions in this period, excluding the final one after Kilkenny got thrown to the ground, progressing all nine inside Kerry’s 45 and getting eight shots off scoring 0 – 07. Under the most intense pressure, starting the period three points down, they produced an 89% Shot Rate and an 88% Conversion Rate with an Expt Pts of +2.17. Just outstanding.

Kerry had their opportunities. They too had nine possessions in this period progressing seven inside Dublin’s 45 however they only produced four shots (57% Conversion Rate) with only one of those coming inside the final ~12 minutes.

We will probably never know what led to such a diversion in those final 15 minutes – be it mental fortitude or the age profile of the teams finally catching up on Kerry – but what we can say is that this Dublin team answered every question about their resolve, ability and just fundamental skills in that final period.

Appendix

Dublin’s shooting
Dublin shooting (V Kerry 16)

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

 

Players with >= 4 shots

Shots Scores Success Rate Exp Pts
D Rock (Dublin) 13 0 – 12 92% 8.27
C Cooper (Kerry) 8 0 – 05 63% 5.88
D Connolly (Dublin) 7 0 – 03 43% 2.93
P Geaney (Kerry) 5 1 – 04 100% 3.16
B Brogan (Dublin) 5 0 – 02 40% 2.61

Dublin v Donegal 2016 AI Quarter Final

August 11, 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 41 35 27 1 – 15 18.71
Donegal 42 28 24 1 – 10 11.99

Mannion’s late late goal would appear to give the Dublin shooting a boost that their shooting performance until that point did not warrant (they were running at an Expt Pts of -2.35 until the goal). In truth their shooting was average throughout with the two early missed Connolly goal chances putting them in a hole that only that late goal really bridged.

Dublin shooting

Rock was excellent on deadballs hitting five from five though his Expt Pts return for that is relatively low at +0.93. This is due, as can be seen from the shot chart below, to the fact that three of his frees were from the 14m line in front of goal. These are converted ~98% of the time.

From play their point taking was just below average with an Expt Pts of -0.56. Their conversion rate at 50% (0-10 from 20 shots) would not normally produce a negative Expt Pts however it occurs here due to the shot mix. Dublin were 71% (5 from 7; Expt Pts of +0.56) from central areas and 42% (5 from 12; Expt Pts -1.12) from wider out.

Essentially they were very good on the easier ones, bolstering the Conversion Rate, and poor on the harder ones. This poorer return from the more difficult shots was not due to any particularly pressurised Donegal defending. Four of the seven misses did not occur under any pressure.

This doesn’t appear to be something to get too worried about from a Dublin perspective however. In their two games covered to date (against Laois & Meath – the Westmeath game is on the “to do” list) they had a combined Conversion Rate of 53% (19 from 36) with an Expt Pts of +3.18 from these wider areas. The only caveat to those numbers is that Laois & Meath only pressurised ~31% of those kicks whilst Donegal got pressure on 50%.

Donegal shooting

Donegal were very good on deadballs converting 89% with the only miss being Murphy’s long range effort from beyond the 45 in the 3rd minute. Their Expt Pts for these nine shots comes in at +2.41 but this is somewhat bolstered by the last free. Usually a free is tapped over from that distance and a point gains you a miserly +0.02 on Expt Pts (see Rock’s Conversion Rate to Expt Pts return). Here Murphy got the point but went for goal. We have only 10 instances of a player going for goal from this distance and the majority get blocked. The fact that Murphy was going for goal means that the Expt Pts for that shot was a low +0.33. When the ball ricocheted over the crossbar he, and Donegal, gets a somewhat fortuitous +0.67 bump on Expt Pts.

Donegal scored 1-00 from their two goal chances returning +1.28.

So from deadballs and goal attempts Donegal were running at +3.69 which is in the 2014 “creating a shock” range. But then there is their shooting from play which in truth was both poor and meagre. Donegal returned 0 – 02 from 13 shots (Conversion Rate of 15% & an Expt Pts of -2.68). A lower expectancy is already built in to take account of the fact that Donegal were facing the best team in Ireland so the poor returns cannot be blamed on coming up against a good defence alone.

Donegal had six shots centrally from outside the 20m line and only returned 0 – 01. Dublin managed to pressure just one of those six so four of the remaining five were misses from the central region with no pressure. You just cannot do that – with a lower shot count – against a team like Dublin.

It is interesting to note that McBrearty didn’t get any shots from this central zone. After his heroics the last day he was restricted to four shots with all four coming from out wider.

Dublin’s Kickouts.

All this buries the lead. The most remarkable number from the game is 1-11. That is how much Dublin scored from their own kickout. They somehow managed to score 1 – 11 off 17 possessions gained in this manner and 0-04 from the remaining 24 possessions. That is a remarkable split

Against Meath and Laois they scored a combined 1- 15 from 38 possession on their own kickouts. This equates to 0.47 points per kickout won and 38% of their total score in those games. Here those figures were 0.82 points per possession and 78% of the total score. This game’s lop-sidedness does look like an outlier but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

Dublin gained possession on 17 of their 21 kickouts (81%) with 13 of those possessions ending in a shot. That means in scoring 1 – 11 the conversion rate for shots emanating from their own kickouts was 92% (!!) with the conversion rate for all other shots being 29% (4 from 14).

Of those 13 shots the range of individual player possessions was 1 to 12 with the average being 6.1. So in essence from their own kickouts 6 players touched the ball (including the shooter) before they pulled the trigger. For the other 14 shots the average was 9.1.

Interesting as that gap is (and what it perhaps implies for the disparate conversion rates?) what’s more interesting is the volume of player possessions inside the 45. Again on the 13 shots from their own kickout there were 1.7 player possessions inside Donegal’s 45. On 8 of the 13 the only possession inside the 45 led to a shot. Again for the other 14 shots this was 2.9

So Dublin held on to the ball a lot less from their own kickouts and were devastatingly incisive once inside the 45 on these possessions. On turnovers, or the opposition’s kickout, where they got ball much higher up the pitch they were more controlled, more methodical. And much less accurate.

Appendix

Shot Charts

Dublin’s shooting

Dublin shooting (V Donegal 16)

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

 

Players with >= 4 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Exp Pts
M Murphy (Donegal) 8 0 – 06 75% 4.32
D Rock (Dublin) 6 0 – 05 83% 4.42
P McBrearty (Donegal) 6 0 – 03 50% 2.97
D Connolly (Dublin) 5 0 – 02 40% 4.39