Posts Tagged ‘Kerry’

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)


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


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.


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.


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.


2017 Expt Wins

January 22, 2018

So in what is now becoming an annual exercise let’s review the 2017 season through the prism of Expected Wins (Expt Wins).The 2015 and 2016 versions of this article can be found here and here

For the uninitiated Expt Wins uses bookmaker’s odds (note 1), as a sort of independent arbiter, to see which teams over (or under!) performed versus what was expected on a game by game basis. It is a much better fairer view than sheer win percentages given (a) how relatively short the season is for most teams and (b) how uneven the Championship can be in terms of the quality of teams facing off against each other.

Table 1; 2017’s best and brightest

Unsurprisingly the top10 is peppered with teams that were promoted. This makes sense as for the majority of teams the league makes up at least two thirds of their season.

Carlow had an excellent season – but it was no fluke; they were also top5 in 2016. Over the past two seasons they have won 11 games when they were only expected to win ~7.7. And they managed to top the 2017 table despite losing as 1/16 home favourites against London. 1/16, without accounting for the bookmaker’s margin (see note1), implies a 94% win probability. Win that game and their “above Expt Wins” total would be twice that of second placed Louth. That loss is the shortest price loss in the database and must be one they desperately want back. There is no guarantee that Carlow would have gained promotion had they beaten London – as Wexford no doubt would have put greater emphasis on their final two games – but they must be absolutely kicking themselves every time they think of that game. And yet – they still topped the 2017 table despite this loss.

Now I am by no means an expert on the ins and outs of Louth football – and you have to think they have a good ‘un in Pete McGrath – but you have to feel for Colin Kelly. Back to back promotions. A 59% win rate over that period which lands them 5th on that metric behind the likes of Dublin, Tyrone, Kerry and Kildare (themselves aided by back to back promotions) and along with Carlow the only team to finish in the top5 Expt wins both years.

The two Championship campaigns were poor in comparison (played 6 won 3 with three loses of 4, 6 and 9 when stepping up against Derry and Meath) but still … be careful what you wish for.

In 2016 Tyrone and Cavan were in the top10 following successful promotions from Division2 and the trend holds true for Galway and Kildare. Division2 is always very tight – just under half (27 of 56) of all games in the last two years had a zero or one point handicap. Extend that to two points and 80% of the games are covered. Win enough games to gain promotion in these tight contests and you are well on your way to outperforming expectations for the season.

Table 2; 2017’s laggards

This is a mixed bunch of
1. Division4 teams who struggled to register wins and who are perennially down the bottom of these rankings – Limerick, Waterford, Wicklow
2. Teams that had a disastrous season – Cavan, Laois, Derry
3. Very good teams that didn’t get the job done enough – Kerry & Mayo
4. Cork!

Taking the four cohorts in order

1. The worst team in 2017 was (subjectively) Wicklow but no matter how bad you are when you play your peers in the league you are always given “some” chance. Wicklow’s seven league appearances saw them chalked up at odds of 8/11, 3/1, 5/6, 10/3, 11/2, 6/5 and 6/1. When we remove the bookmaker’s margin that equates to an expectation of two wins. And that’s for the “worst team”. Limerick’s odds were 8/13, 11/10, 13/8, 1/10, 8/15, 11/8 and 1/10 which comes out at just over four wins.

No matter how poorly you are viewed under Expt Wins you will always be expected to notch up at least two wins and maybe four or five … if you struggle to win games full stop you will always be down the bottom end of this table.

2. All three of Cavan, Laois and Derry were relegated and whilst combined they won 4 of 10 Championship games three of those victories came against Division4 teams when they were heavily favoured. At a very high level this cohort win the games they are expected to win, lost the ones they were expected to lose and came out the wrong side of way too many 50:50 calls

3. Mayo being so low on the table is easy enough to explain; in the three games that they drew Mayo were 1/5, 1/6 and 23/10 – those three games alone account for their negative Expt Wins. Kerry are slightly different. They may have finally managed to beat Dublin in the Division1 final but outside of that they failed to win half their games – with three of those games coming against Mayo when a good favourite (2/5, 1/2 and 8/13). They were almost prohibitively favoured at 1/20, 1/5 & 1/6 in the three Championship games that they won. That mixture (winning when big favourite, losing/drawing when favouritism is less obvious) is a recipe for a poor Expt Wins season

4. Cork. Ah Cork. For the second year in a row they appear in the bottom5 but can you imagine how poor they would look had Waterford managed to tack on one more point when Cork were 1/50? Cork were middle of the pack on win ratio (winning 41% of their games) but were overturned by Tipperary as a 7 point favourite in the 2016 Championship whilst also losing at odds of 1/3, 4/11 and 4/11 over the two league campaigns. They never won a game as underdog to balance these losses.

Is it predictive?
Although there are outliers – notably Carlow, Louth and Cork – I would lean towards no. There is just too much volatility as teams yo-yo up and down the table; Kerry from 27th in 2015 to equal 6th in 2016 and then back down to 28th in 2017; Cavan from 9th to 31st, Armagh from 32nd to 5th. Good luck trying to pick which of this year’s top5 will stay there!

Note1; calculating Expt Wins

Using the All Ireland final as an example. Paddy Power’s odds for the game were Dublin 4/9, Mayo 3/1 with the draw being 9/1. All that these fractional odds are is another way of expressing probabilities. To work out the probability any odds equate to you use the following formula (B/ (A+B)). For Dublin’s 4/9 the B here = 9 and the A = 4 so the probability of a Dublin win = (9/ (4+9)) which equals 0.692 or 69.2%. Do this for all three odds and you get

Dublin = (9/ (4+9)) = 69.2%
Mayo = (1/ (1+3)) = 25.0%
Draw = (1/ (1+9)) = 10.0%

The total percentages add up to 104.2%. Now we know that there are only the three outcomes for any game – team1 wins, team2 wins and draw – so anything above 100% for these three outcomes is the bookmaker’s margin. To get a truer understanding of the probabilities we strip out the margin equally across the three outcomes and come up with an Expt Win for each team. Dublin in this instance = 67.8% or 0.678 (69.2%-((104.2%-100%)/3)); Mayo = 23.6% or 0.236 (25.0%-((104.2%-100%)/3))

Note2; the odds
All odds are taken from Paddy Power and tend to be taken towards the back end of the week (Friday night/Saturday morning) to let any movements settle down. It is possible that injury news etc. changes the odds between what was taken and what they were at throw in but I’m comfortable enough that this would be a rare enough occurrence not to have too big an impact.

Mayo v Kerry 2017 AI SF Replay

August 28, 2017

Styles make fights. It’s an old adage but one that has endured because there is such an element of truth in it. How else to explain away how a game between two teams differs so much from one week to the next. In the drawn tie there were a total of 103 possessions with 47 turnovers. Kerry won the possession battle 54 – 49. Here there was a total of 87 possessions – with Mayo winning that battle 47 to 40 – and 31 turnovers. There was just 9 (9!!) turnovers in the first 35 minutes.

There are many minor elements throughout a game that will lead to such variances but the main variable that changes was in how Kerry set up. They started with an extra man back to cut off the kicked ball into Mayo’s forwards. The knock effect of this was that (a) Mayo’s kickouts were less frantic and (b) Mayo countered by playing more of a possession game. Both elements ensuring there were less turnovers.

More on the kickouts later but to my mind Mayo showed their collective football intelligence by changing their style to suit the additional element of Kerry playing one back. They played a game we don’t normally associate with them – keep ball. In the drawn game they had just the four (8% of all possessions) team possessions where there were at least 12 player possessions. Only one occurred in the first half of that game. In the replay that rose to eight (17%) with five in the first half.

Now 12 is an arbitrary number used to illustrate a point but that point is further bolstered by the fact that in the seven games prior to the semi-final that percentage (of team possessions with >12 player touches) was just over 8%. Mayo changed their natural game to play what was in front of them. And executed it with intelligence and no small degree of precision.

Mayo attack

A very clinical outing from Mayo scoring 0 -04 more than would have been expected from the shots they attempted. From an Expt Pts perspective the majority of the gains came from their goal attempts where three shots produced 2 – 00. Over the two games Mayo had eight shots on goal scoring 4 – 01 with an Expt Pts of +3.22 (Note; Expt Pts is less reliable on goal attempts than point attempts – as will be seen when we come onto Kerry). Even if they don’t manage to maintain the same high conversion rate Mayo will want to carry the volume of attempts through to the final as this was a weakness against Dublin last year. Over the 140 minutes of the replay and drawn game against Dublin they only manufactured three shots at goal returning 1- 01.

Another area that Mayo will be happier with now is their deadball striking. In the first game C O’Connor hit just
25% off a very low volume (0 – 01 from four; free x3 & 1 x 45) whilst his returns for the year badly lagged previous seasons (67% Success Rate & Expt Pts of -3.87).

Here he was 0 – 06 from seven attempts (86%) though with an Expt Pts return of +0.19 he would have been expected to score 0 – 06. His one missed attempt was again outside his range in being a 45 to the left of centre.

Jason Doherty’s two points (0 – 02 from 2; Expt Pts +0.66) were excellent – especially the first free from the left as Kerry had reduced the gap to four points at that stage by scoring the previous two and would have gotten a huge lift if Mayo had missed an opportunity through their main free taker being off the field.

Given O’Connor’s long distance travails the consummate ease with which he converted the second attempt, a 45, might give Mayo management a decision to make on the longer ones come the final.

In the drawn game Mayo’s point attempts were very good returning 52% (0 – 12 from 23; Expt Pts +1.03). They stepped back ever so slightly here returning 50% (0 – 08 from 16; Expt Pts of +0.78) but not to any degree that would be alarming.

Although their shooting form has waxed and waned throughout the campaign, and indeed throughout certain games, they have been very consistent at a macro level. In the seven games coming into the semi-final they were converting point attempts at a 49% clip (Combined Expt Pts of -0.40). In the two SFs here they were a combined 51% (Ext Pts of +1.83). In the final they will be looking to hold onto this 50% as a minimum – over the 140 minutes against Dublin last year they were 45% (0 – 14 from 31; Expt Pts -0.22). Marginal gains and all but … that uplift from 45% to 51% could be the difference in a one point defeat over 140 minutes and a one point victory in 70 minutes.

Kerry’s attack

Kerry’s numbers are an absolute contradiction with a very high conversion rate at 59% but a horrible Expt Pts of -5.29. The negative Expt Pts can be entirely explained through their goal attempts. They had four separate instances where they were through on goal, producing six shots, but came away empty handed. Of the six only Peter Crowley’s attempt – immediately after Mayo’s first goal – could be considered anyway clear cut. Geaney’s movement, in such a confined space, was nothing short of remarkable for the attempt that Boyle stopped on the line but it was far from what could be described as a “gilt edged” opportunity. Similarly the three attempts around the 45th minute that Clarke, and a plethora of defenders, kept out were, in the main, instinctive snap shots. Geaney had another attempt from out wide at the death but there again there was a whole host of Mayo bodies in the way.

Looking ahead to the final this will (should!) be an area of concern for Mayo. Although the quality of attempts here was low the six shots do add to the four Kerry had in the first game. We know how devastating Dublin can be when they scythe through teams – Mayo cannot afford to offer up four/five/six shots on goal to Dublin as they did to Kerry. (On the credit side of this argument is that Mayo only faced 11 goal attempts in their seven matches pre the semi-final and four in the two games against Dublin last year)

Leaving the goal attempts to one side Kerry were an incredible 74% (0 – 17 from 23; Expt Pts +1.97) on the remainder of the shots. We have seen that Mayo – on a combined 51% – had a combined Expt Pt close to Kerry’s with a 74% Success Rate. How so? Kerry achieved their 74% on very simple shots. The complete shot chart is in the appendix but below are all their 2nd half attempts – it comprises of goal attempts, tap overs and simple frees. There is only one shot from outside ~25metres. They went for goal too soon and too often.

Kerry struggled collectively the last day on their point taking (40%; 0 – 08 from 20) but coming into the semi-final they were on fire with a combined 71%. Yes the defences they faced were of a lesser variety than Mayo’s but they really should have been in a position to back themselves and keep the scoreboard ticking over.


Mayo (when compared with the outputs from the drawn game) wiped the floor with Kerry. They got 15 of their 23 kickouts away short with, unlike in the drawn game, quite a number coming under little or no pressure. That first game saw them score 1 – 06 from the 13 short ones that they won. They were less productive here scoring “just” the 0 – 04 on their own short kickouts but where they really dominated was on the mid/long range.

In total there were 19 kickouts that went past the 45 – with Mayo winning 13 (six on their own kickout to just one for Kerry and seven on Kerry’s kickout to just the five for Kerry). And when they won them they went for the jugular getting nine shots off and scoring 1 – 05. That’s 1 – 09 from kickouts both days. Why the turnaround? It is very hard to say watching TV footage but there appears to have been a convergence of Kerry getting caught between roles following their decision to play with an extra back plus Mayo going back to brass tacks (if you get a chance to re-watch Peter Canavan’s piece on Sky on how simple some of the “bunched” routines were it is well worth it).

One area that might give Mayo something to ponder is the fact that Kerry moved the ball quite well from their own short kickouts. Kerry won 11 converting eight to shots and scoring 0 – 06. Or 0.55 points per kickout won. In fairness this appears to be a blip as Mayo were giving up 0.28 points per short kickout in the prior eight games this year but still there are always those edges to be gained ….


Game overview

Kerry’s shot chart

Mayo’s shot chart

x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half, red = goal attempt


Mayo v Kerry 2017 AI SF

August 22, 2017

Kerry’s attack

Coming into the game one of the biggest disparities was in Kerry’s Conversion Rate versus what Mayo had allowed up to that point. In their three 2017 Championship games Kerry were running at a massively impressive 67% clip (both on total shots attempted as well as on point attempts from play) whilst Mayo were giving up 49% (a meagre 39% from play). Something had to give.

Kerry ended up with 2-14, a Conversion Rate of 50% and an Expt Pts tally of +0.37; not often you would consider letting in 2-14 a good result but Kerry’s returns were essentially average. On top of the overall lower conversion rate Kerry only hit 40% (0 – 08 from 20) on their point attempts. Advantage Mayo’s defence. Mayo did however give up eight shots from frees whilst Kerry created three clear cut goal opportunities (three shots on goal and Buckley’s converted follow up). So maybe more of an honourable draw with Mayo shading it.

Again coming into the game P Geaney & J O’Donoghue were the Kerry forwards’ standard bearers taking 40% of Kerry’s point attempts with a combined 64% Conversion Rate (Expt Pts of +4.44). Mayo managed to keep a lid on them as together Geaney & O’Donoghue “only” accounted for 30% of Kerry’s point attempts though their accuracy was as good as ever (0 – 04 from 6; 67% Conversion Rate & Expt pts of +1.44). That “keeping a lid” does come with a qualifier however; 0 – 03 came directly from frees where either were fouled.

There is plenty of commentary on the merit or otherwise of placing A O’Shea on Donaghy. Looking purely at the figures coming into the game Donaghy had taken just three shots in 124 minutes of action – scoring 1-2 mind – whilst also having eight primary and three secondary assists. Here in just over 70 minutes he scored just 0 – 01 but managed three shots and as can be seen from the assists table below he was Kerry’s puppet master with six primary and two secondary assists.

Kerry assist table

Undoubtedly the three shots were from less productive areas as Donaghy roamed given that Kerry had switched away from the high ball – but that is a minimal gain. Donaghy had a hand in all three goal opportunities and was the dominant Kerry presence in the forwards.

Mayo’s attack

Coming into the game Mayo had converted 53% of their shots (49% of point attempts) whilst Kerry had allowed 47% (40% on point attempts). Here Mayo had a combined 50% with 52% from point attempts. Advantage Mayo

Moran & O’Connor’s accuracy up front was excellent scoring 0 – 07 from 8 point attempts (88% Conversion Rate with an Expt Pts of +3.21) whilst overall, when including goal chances, they produced a combined 75% Conversion Rate (1 – 08 from 12) and Expt Pts of +2.37. You will go a long way to find better returns from a front two in such a big game.

Of course (there’s always a caveat!) if O’Connor & Moran were sublime, but Mayo were more or less bang on average, that means that there were issues elsewhere. The most noticeable was their deadball accuracy. They had three frees and one 45 with O’Connor only converting 1.

This is – worryingly for Mayo – now becoming a trend. Attached are all O’Connor’s deadball attempts this year with the ones in the Kerry game highlighted in black. Previously we highlighted that O’Connor has a definite arc outside of which he is vulnerable. That arc is as evident in 2017 as it ever was.

O’Connor 2017 deadball chart

Outside of Moran & O’Connor Mayo were 33% (0- 05 from 15; Expt Pts of -2.18) which is well down on how they were doing coming into the game (49% & an Expt Pts +0.97). It is hard to see Moran & O’Connor being as productive the next day but even if they do “slack” somewhat the expectation is that the rest of the team will improve.

Areas of improvement for the replay

As already intimated Mayo will need more from the supporting cast from play whilst also getting more than just 0 – 01 from whatever deadballs they have. But there’s also the issue of their discipline. They gave up the eight shots from frees but some of those were, to use a technical term, just dumb – especially in the first half. After going ahead by 1 -01 they gave up an off the ball free just outside the D and then managed to give up an extra 13m for a free out towards the wing that brought the ball right onto the D. Two simple tap overs, lead halved and Kerry were up and running. This doesn’t account for the one where Vaughan dived at O’Donoghue’s feet from behind.

As an aside this is not the first time that 13m was tagged on to an important free – the equalising score for Cork came from a free just outside the 45 that had had 13m tagged on. Gotta cut out the dumb sh*t in the replay.

Kerry? They will be disappointed in their shooting. Dropping from 67% on point attempts in the three previous games to 40% here can be somewhat accounted for by the conditions and the step up in defensive quality however quite a bit of the drop can be credited to Kerry themselves.

Kerry pt attempts from play – pressure/no pressure

Of their 20 point attempts 45% were taken under little or no pressure (white in the above chart) with just a 33% Conversion Rate. The three converted were by P Geaney, BJ Keane and K Young (with his right!!) but it was the ones that were missed (Moran & Donaghy x2, Maher & Morley x1) that Kerry will need to tighten up on.


The main focus during the game was on Mayo’s kickouts where Kerry applied huge amounts of pressure pushing up on the short ones in an effort to force Mayo to go longer. When Clarke did have to go longer Kerry lorded it winning 8 of 11 (73%) that passed the 45. But the reason for Kerry pushing up so hard was evident in what Mayo did with the short ones they won. Of the 13 they got away they managed to get ten attacks, eight shots and scored 1- 06. Unbelievable returns.

Playing the short one as much as Mayo do – 109 so far in their eight games – they’ll always run the gauntlet of the calamitous one. Kerry got a point from the one short kickout they intercepted; to date Mayo have lost 9 (8% of all short kickouts taken) and given up 0 – 07. A goal will eventually come but the credit balance is such that Mayo really should just accept when it happens (though doing everything in their power to prevent it) and stick to the plan.

One point to note is how Mayo fared over the two halves. In the first half Mayo only got 46% (6 of 13) of kickouts away short but in the second half that rose to 73% (8 of 11). The high press game is very tiring and a combination of Kerry fatigue, and Mayo alertness to what they were doing, ensured a much more productive second half

Less newsworthy in the post-game reaction was how good Mayo were on Kerry’s kickouts. When Kerry went past the 45 Mayo essentially broke even (Kerry won 7 getting 5 shots; Mayo won 6 getting 4 shots from same) but they were more impressive in what they did to Kerry’s short ones. Kerry had 11 but only converted three to a shot.


Game overview

Kerry’s shot chart

Mayo’s shot chart

x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half from play, white = 2nd half, red = goal attempt

Mayo assists


Kerry v Cork Munster

July 4, 2017

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
Kerry 54 40 31 1 – 23 19.41
Cork 48 37 30 0 – 15 20.83

At a macro level both teams recorded very similar numbers in terms of Attack & Shot Rate. Kerry had 6 more possessions (in the main from shots recovered & the throw-ins) but only ended up with one more shot. It was Kerry’s clinical finishing that saw then coast to victory.

If you’re explaining you’re losing … but the fact that Cork have a higher Expt Pts tally despite an 11 point beating takes some explaining.

There are two elements to this; the first is the 11 point gap which relates directly to the conversion rate of both teams. We’ll touch on that later. The second is the composition of the shots that allowed Cork to accumulate more Expt Pts.

Both teams had 4 attempts at goal. Cork had a further 26 point attempts to Kerry’s 27 however within that 26 were 10 deadballs and 16 attempts from play. Kerry had 6 deadballs and 21 point attempts. Deadball attempts are converted at a much higher rate than point attempts thus the gap in Expt Pts between the deadballs (Cork’s 10 = 8.23, Kerry’s 6 = 4.51) is such that it overcomes the gap in Expt Pts for the point attempts (Cork’s 16 = 7.76, Kerry’s 21 = 10.06). And that’s how Cork ended up with more Expt Pts.

How Kerry ended up with an 11 point win however is purely down to the Conversion Rates

Kerry’s shooting
As stated Kerry had 4 shots at goal scoring 1- 00. Which is slightly below expected. Their deadballs were flawless scoring 0 – 06 from 6. What stands apart however was their point taking where they manufactured an obscene Conversion Rate of 81% (0 – 17 from 21; Expt Pts +6.94). It was their 14th point attempt – in the 41st minute – before they failed to convert one. They are simply magnificent returns. For some context the average Conversion Rate from 2012 – 2016 was 46%. Dublin, in their drubbing of Westmeath, converted 76% (0 – 22 from 29).

Much has been made of Paul Geaney & James O’Donoghue’s prowess together (I believe it was the Examiner’s John Fogarty (@JohnFogartyIrl) who highlighted the fact that they’ve scored 5 – 58 from play when paired together in 11 Championship games) but what struck me was the supporting cast.

Combined Geaney & O’Donoghue had a stat line of 78% (0 – 07 from 9) with an Expt Pts return of +2.79. Very good indeed. But the supporting cast produced a combined 83% (0 – 10 from 12) with an Expt Pts of +4.15. Seven different players had just the one point attempt with six converting (extra shooting practise for Darran O’Sullivan it would seem ….)

Cork’s defence aided Kerry in their endeavours in that 57% (12 of the 21) of the point attempts were taken under little or no pressure. Whilst this intuitively seems high it is a new metric and we need to be careful about reading too much into it. In the above Westmeath rout 66% of Dublin’s shots were taken under little or no pressure. By the end of the year 57% will probably be on the high side but not ridiculous.

Speaking of new metrics I have started to track shot assists throughout a game. It is still raw, and subjective, but essentially looks to track those placing the bullet in the chamber for others, in this instance Geaney & O’Donoghue, to pull the trigger.

Given how quickly the ball is let into the full forward line it is no surprise to see the front three feature heavily here. What is surprising perhaps are Paul Murphy’s returns. Not surprising in the sense that he’s not capable of such a performance but more so in that he didn’t appear to feature prominently when watching the game live. He very quietly, and very efficiently, pulled the strings.


What of Cork? First the positives – they did create the four goal chances. Yes they only returned 0 – 01 but they did open Kerry up. Their deadballs were – as has been the case with Cork – more or less on point (0 – 08 from 10; Expt Pts of -0.23. Essentially average). In a game where the majority of the commentary has referenced Kerry’s forward play Cork managed 30 shots.

What failed them was (a) the aforementioned inability to slow Kerry’s shooters. Yes Kerry were on fire but they needed to place them under more pressure. And (b) their own shooting. They had 16 points attempts from play but only scored 0 – 06 (38%; Expt Pts of -1.76). Not only was it anaemic when compared to Kerry but it was well below the average.

What might be more damning than the returns is who was shooting. Outside Donncha O’Connor, who came on at half time only Mark Collins got more than one shot off. Kerrigan, Connolly, Coakley, Deane, K O’Driscoll and Hurley all only managed one shot each.


Kerry came out on top of the kickouts that crossed the 45 winning 61% (20 to Cork’s 13). From a “must clean up” perspective they will be unhappy that they only manufactured three shots from 9 of their own kickouts that went past the 45. They also lost two short ones when Cork pushed up. Symptomatic of their day Cork didn’t score off either but those instances could be devastating hammer blows in any other game.


Shot Charts

Kerry’s shooting

Cork’s shooting

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.


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 Kerry 2016 League Final

April 26, 2016

Over 70 minutes (or ~75 these days) that’s a paddlin’.

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Dublin 60 50 33 2 – 18 21.60
Kerry 47 27 19 0 – 13 9.10

With a full complement of players you are liable to mental and physical fatigue having ~10 less possessions going into the last ten minutes. You just cannot afford to go a man down against Dublin given the pace at which they play the game.

I’m not sure there’s any benefit to be had looking at the game as a whole. Dublin ran riot in the last ten minutes attempting seven shots and scoring 2-03. But the demarcation point was probably the red card ten minutes earlier in the 50th minute. At that stage the score was 0-13 to 0-11 and whilst Dublin were on top it was still competitive. To that end below are the numbers up until the red card.

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Dublin 40 32 22 0 – 13 12.17
Kerry 33 22 16 0 – 11 8.11

Dublin had more possessions and were finding it easier to get the ball inside Kerry’s 45 (83% Attack rate to Kerry’s very poor 57%). More possession and a higher attack rate will naturally lead to more shots. One crumb of comfort for Kerry is that once inside the 45 they were producing more shots (73% Shot rate to Dublin’s 69%).

One reason for this higher shot rate is the range that Kerry were shooting from. In the period up to the red card Dublin had 17 point attempts from play and all bar two were within ~30 metres of goal. Dublin were working the ball in close attempting higher percentage shots. Hence why on a 59% (13 scores from 22 shots)Success Rate they were only ~1pt above Expected.

Dublin shooting pre red card
Kerry shooting (V Dublin 16 league final) pre red

Kerry on the other hand were taking much harder shots but were converting them at a very high rate as evidenced by the Success Rate of 69% (11 from 16) and an ExpPts of +2.89. Reviewing the semi-final win over Roscommon I was interested to see whether the fast, accurate start Kerry had produced there, and against Cork, could be repeated. The accuracy was – they only missed two shots from play in the first half with one of them being Marc O’Sé’s attempt in the first minute. The speed however wasn’t. They need to be taking more shots, or get a goal, to keep up with Dublin.

Re goal attempts; Darran O’Sullivan’s left footed effort after 22 minutes was the only one Kerry have managed across the last two finals (here & the All Ireland final in September). Dublin had four in the All Ireland final and one up until the red card here. Granted they didn’t convert any but if/when they meet again the goal attempts cannot be 5 -1 in Dublin’s favour. They will eventually convert!


Speaking of converting – Bernard Brogan had an ominously good day. Prior to 2015 his returns from play were well below what was required for a forward of his calibre (combined ExptPts of -4.78 over the three years) but with the burden of the free taking duties removed he exploded on the 2015 Championship with an ExpPts return of +14.26 across 38 shots.

Brogan 2015 shot chart
Brogan 2015 shooting

As his shot chart above shows he played much closer to goal in 2015. He did the same here scoring four points from his four shots and setting up both goals. Dublin are not short of options up front but they may not need to exercise them if Brogan maintains his 2015 form.

As ever with Dublin games the kickouts were a focus for a lot of the build-up. Kerry had some success here in the All Ireland final getting their hands on three of Cluxton’s ten short kickouts and the expectation was that they were going to do a similar “press” here. No such luck. Dublin dominated their own kickout winning 89% (16 of 18). More tellingly they managed to score 0-07 directly from those 16 possessions.

When discussing the kickouts pre game a lot of focus is on the Dublin kickout but little emphasis is placed on just how good they are on the opposition’s kickout. Here Kerry went past the 45m line (were forced to go past?) on 19 kickouts winning the possession battle 11-8. Despite this supremacy they only scored 0 – 02 from these possessions whilst Dublin managed to produce 0 – 04 from the 8 kickouts they won.

Dublin dominated their own kickouts with a net return of 0 – 06 (Kerry managed 0 – 01 from the two Dublin kickouts they won) and had a net return of 0 – 02 off Kerry’s contestable kickouts. That’s 0 – 08 to the good on kickouts alone without mentioning the goal.

Kickouts going askew are a natural hazard of using short routines. The idea is that over time you will gain more from the 95% successful short kickouts than you will lose from the 5% that go wrong. That is fine in a macro sense however over 70 minutes one going wrong can be devastating and with the frequency of short kickouts increasing we are seeing more and more erroneous ones being punished to the full. Donegal in the 2014 All Ireland final, Roscommon at the end of their first Division one game against Monaghan and now this. All punished by clinical forwards.

Kealy’s kickout wasn’t the first to go wrong. It won’t be the last.


Shot Charts

Dublin’s shooting
Dublin shooting (V Kerry 16 league final)

Kerry’s shooting
Kerry shooting (V Dublin 16 league final)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = normal time from play, red = goal attempt


Kerry v Roscommon 2016 League SF

April 14, 2016

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

Team Possessions Attacks Shots Scores Exp Pts
Kerry 45 33 26 3 – 15 16.74
Roscommon 50 40 33 0 – 14 17.49

Although the 70 minute overview doesn’t read too badly for Roscommon this game was over by the 18th minute when they were attempting just their fifth shot. The gulf is probably better represented by the below comparison.

Kerry v Roscommon league SF Expt Pts

By the time of that fifth shot Kerry had scored 1-06 from their opening ten shots. Almost as impressive as that strike rate is how they killed the game instantly inside three minutes. Cooper bagged his goal with an excellent finish from the left of the small square. Kerry then went on to win the next three Roscommon kickouts scoring a point off each. Roscommon went in to the 12th minute 0-03 to 0-02 down and emerged in the 16th minute 1-06 to 0-02 down with their only possession of the ball being 3 goal kicks. Absolutely clinical.

Not all of Kerry’s league games were televised but this is not the first time we have seen them sprint out of the traps this year. Against Cork, by the 20th minute, they bagged 0-10 from their opening 12 shots killing that game off too. It will be interesting to see how they start against Dublin in the final.
Speaking of that final what may also be illuminating is the kickout battle. Michael Quirke had a good article in the Examiner during the week stating that Down, Donegal, Cork & Kerry won just five of Dublin’s kickouts combined. Now we can argue the merit of that stat (did those teams push up? How many were short & thus uncontested?) but the crux of the article is that Cluxton is a potent weapon for Dublin. I think on that we can all agree.

And yet in the All Ireland final Kerry managed to seriously pressure Cluxton winning three of their ten short kickouts (unheard of previously) whilst Mayo also managed to break down the kickout routine at the end of the drawn replay.

On the other hand Kerry might be worried about their own kickouts. In that final Dublin lorded it over them in the second half until that dominance forced Kerry to go short in the last quarter. Here Roscommon got their hands on 60% (12 of 20) of Kerry’s contestable kickouts. Granted that return was aided by Roscommon winning five of the last six Kerry kickouts. It could be argued that Kerry had switched off towards the end whilst Roscommon were still working trying to eek something from what was to that point an excellent league campaign (& still is). But even still prior to this the count was seven apiece on contestable kickouts.

What of Roscommon?

Roscommon shooting (V Kerry 16 league SF)
x = missed, disc = score, yellow = deadball, black = 1st half point attempt from play, white = 2nd half point attempt from play, red = goal attempt

Their shooting was poor here. Not necessarily the shot selection but the execution with some very simple chances missed in the first half. Scoreboard pressure after Kerry’s early onslaught? Or something else?

Looking at the four (vs Monaghan, Donegal & Kerry twice) league games charted Roscommon attempted 102 shots scoring 2 – 56. This is against an Expected Return of ~63 points. That’s not a bad return at all when you consider the weather and pitch conditions (the Expt Pt is modelled on Championship games) and the fact that they were stepping up in regards the quality of opposition. It would appear from this distance that there is no glaring issue with their shooting.

Another element that stands out on the above chart is just how clean in front of the goal is. Kerry managed to stop Roscommon having any shots at goal. In the other three games Roscommon manufactured five shots at goal scoring 2-02. Not exactly prolific and perhaps one area they can take away to work on.

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

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


Kerry shooting chart

Kerry shooting (V Roscommon 16 league SF)


Expected Wins; how teams fared versus their odds

January 11, 2016

Once September rolls around only one or two teams will deem their year as being successful. In 2015 Dublin had a year of years winning the league, Leinster and the All Ireland (do we throw in the O’Byrne cup?). Monaghan winning Ulster made for a successful season whilst there is an honourable mention for Fermanagh with promotion to Division2 and the quarter final appearance. But what about the rest?

If the league is a means to an end for the majority, and the All Ireland and Provincial championships are regularly shared by the same teams, how do we measure the remainder’s performance? Or indeed how do we judge a team like Tyrone that got relegated, fell short in Ulster but rallied to get to the All Ireland semi-final? One way is to compare a team’s results against how bookmaker’s thought they should fare.

Bookmakers give odds on all games. The main markets are match odds and handicap. Any bookmaker worth their salt will tell you that though all odds can be converted into a percentage chance of winning this is not their primary aim when setting the line. They are not trying to exactly predict the likelihood of an outcome but rather set a line that will encourage multi way action on the game. This then enables them to have relatively evenly split betting on all outcomes and they can take the built in margin.

Still these lines are a very good proxy for how a team is expected to perform and the cumulative odds can thus be used to extract just how many games a team won above, or below, what was expected. Thus we create an Expected Wins (Exp Wins) metric.

Expected Wins

All odds for a game were converted to an Exp Win (see methodology in Note2 below) and then teams ranked according to how many wins they obtained in the League & Championship above this mark

Exp Win Top10

It comes as no surprise that seven of the top ten teams in pure win percentage appear in the top ten based on Exp Wins. Fermanagh and Monaghan are up there given their aforementioned successful seasons. Longford also had a good year winning 9 of their 13 games. In fact on pure winning percentage they finished second in the country behind Dublin’s 75%.

But what of the remainder? The biggest surprise by far was Limerick. They only won three games in total, ranking them in the bottom third on pure wins alone, but were 7th when compared to their Exp Wins. How so?

Limerick breakdownv2

They were the outsider in all seven of their league games but won three. From those seven games the bookmakers expected them to win 1.87. They outperformed their expected wins by more than a full game. In the Championship they lost by two points away to Clare in a game that had Clare favoured by two and then walked into Tyrone in the first round of the back door. The positive Exp Win total they accumulated in the league was not too badly dented by these two losses – especially the Tyrone one where they were huge outsiders.

Sligo were a bit of a surprise given that they only won four games but again they were quite large underdogs when beating Roscommon in the Championship and complete outsiders in the next two games against Tyrone & Mayo. Given the very low combined Exp Wins from those three games (0.39) that one victory against Roscommon puts them in positive territory for the Championship alone.

Against the Spread

Another way of tracking a team’s performance is to see if they covered the bookmaker’s handicap; or what their ATS (against the spread) was in American parlance. We would expect some cross over with the best performers in the Expected Win list but crucially you don’t have to win a game to beat this performance metric – only play above an expected standard

ATS Top 10

Again six of the teams that appeared in the Exp Wins top ten re-appear. A number of the teams, such as Limerick, Sligo, Fermanagh & Monaghan we have touched upon previously but there are a few surprises. Mayo, despite being a very high profile team, would have been a profitable one to follow on the handicap. Cork, for all the negativity following the losses to Kerry & Kildare, were also profitable but it is London & Leitrim that jump out. Between them they won four games all season but it could be argued they had a pretty good year; their performance exceeded expectations in 12 of their combined 18 games.

London only won one of their nine games all year but managed to cover the handicap on six occasions. Narrow that further and they covered the handicap in five of their seven league games including all three that they played away. You would never state that London had a good season but from a performance perspective we should probably cut them some slack. They performed well above expectation.

Worst Performances

Exp Win Bottom5

Originally the above table was going to be the bottom five but I expanded it to catch two of the bigger fish.

Some of the lower lights – Carlow, Wicklow & Waterford – being down here is not really a surprise given just how few games they won. However it does indicate that perhaps the bookmakers were generally over rating them despite their poor form.

Laois were particularly poor but looking purely at their Championship form they beat Carlow when their Exp Win was 0.86 so get very little credit for that and then had a further three games failing to win any of them when the combined Exp Win was 1.75.

Given they were relegated from Division 1 with just the one win from seven it is perhaps no surprise to see Tyrone down here.

Kerry won seven games throughout the year but were expected to win eight. Creating a league/Championship split Kerry had an Expected win of -0.81 in the league and -0.19 in the Championship. Their Championship was slightly less underwhelming than their league (I kid – sort of!)

ATS Bottom 5

Three of those that appeared in the worst Exp Win table re-appear when we look at the worst performances against the handicap. Wicklow and Waterford not only failed to win enough games but also played poorly in their losses covering a combined four handicaps over 18 games. Given that they won seven games but were only an outsider once during the year – and that a slight outsider in the final against Dublin – it is no surprise that Kerry are again represented.

They had, all told, a good year but were consistently over valued by the bookmakers. Or conversely the bookmakers kept their odds short as the public’s perception of Kerry was that they were performing better than they actually were.


Note 1; there can be quite a difference in bookmaker’s odds. The odds used for this piece were taken primarily from Paddy Power rather than taking the best prices available across all bookmakers. The main reason for this was laziness on my part as it meant just one source rather than hopping around sites.

When you take the price can also be important. Lines do move. However they were generally taken on Saturday or Sunday morning when any early moves had been accounted for.

Note2; generally speaking the margin on GAA match odds is 109% with lesser games getting up to 112%. A typical line in a close game would be 10/11 (home team), 15/2 (draw) & 6/5 (away team) which equals a book of 109.6%. To make this, and all games, come in at 100% – and remove the bookmaker’s margin – I extracted 3% from each outcome. There is a valid argument that this should be more nuanced (take less off the draw perhaps) but for now it’s fine.

Exp Win Explanation

The home team has a 52.4% chance of winning on the odds. We know this is inflated to account for the bookmaker’s margin. Take 3% away from each of the three outcomes to account for this and the home team now has a 49.4% chance of winning. So using the above quoted odds we get an Exp win of 0.49 for the home team (priced at 10/11) and 0.42 for the away team (priced at 6/5).

Do this for all games for a particular team and you have created an Expected Wins metric.


Dublin V Kerry 2015 All Ireland Final

September 23, 2015

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


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

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

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


Shots from Play

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

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

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

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

Kerry goal chance v Dublin

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

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

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

Shots from deadballs

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

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

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

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

Cooper defending v Kerry

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

JOD to Geaney;Dublin - Kerry

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

Geaney to JOD;  Kerry-Dublin

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

Shot Charts

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

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

Players with >= 3 shots from play

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