Posts Tagged ‘Mayo’

Mayo v Roscommon 2017 AI QF

July 31, 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
Roscommon 56 43 24 2 – 09 13.23
Mayo 54 42 29 1 – 12 14.46

Both teams had similar possession volumes (56 for Roscommon to Mayo’s 54) as well as Attack Rates (77% v 78%). Once inside the 45 there was a divergence however with Mayo getting more shots off (29 to Roscommon’s 25).

As an aside 110 possessions is high but not inordinately so. Across 54 games in 2015 and 2016 I have eight with a higher possession total including the 2015 final between Kerry & Dublin which was played in similarly wet conditions. The Connacht game ths year between Mayo & Galway had 113.

Mayo attack

As ever we start with Cillian O’Connor. One of his less auspicious days with a total Conversion Rate of 27% (0 – 03 from 11; Expt Pts – 2.91) and just 14% from play (0 – 01 from 7; Expt Pts -1.94). In eight games in 2016 he returned a combined conversion rate of 62% (0 – 44 from 71) with an Expt Pts tally of -0.93.

As ever his appetite for work and willingness to offer himself up as an option were evident as he took four of Mayo’s last six shots (Durcan took the other two) from the 65th minute onwards. One of these shots was a free from well outside his range whilst the other three were central enough however two were taken under strong or intense pressure. Indeed five of his seven attempts from play were heavily pressurised. If you’re Mayo you probably want O’Connor on the ball at the death but the opposition are well aware of this.

In a down game for O’Connor Lee Keegan almost single-handedly dragged Mayo back from the abyss scoring 1 – 03 from just five shots (80% Conversion Rate; Expt Pts +3.25). The goal was a prime example of split second decision making that can win/lose/decide games.

In the above Keegan’s (5) marker Enda Smith (9) gets sucked into the kickout melee unaware that Doherty has claimed a mark. Keegan sees it and immediately sets off behind Smith’s back. McDermott (Roscommon defender pointing) sees the danger but it is too late. Keegan is gone with nothing but open road in front of him.

The remainder of the Mayo team were average scoring 0 – 06 from 13 (46% Conversion Rate; Expt Pts of +0.10). None of the starting trio of McLoughlin, A O’Shea or S O’Shea managed a shot whilst only Tom Parsons produced one off the bench. Mayo will definitely be looking for more of a threat here the next day.

On McLoughlin & A O’Shea the fact that they didn’t get a shot off does not necessarily mean they had a poor game. Both were very involved higher up the pitch as evidenced by the assist chart.

Roscommon’s defence may be slightly disappointed in the fact that 46% (11 of 24) of Mayo’s shots were taken under little or no pressure however on the flip side they will be delighted in where they forced Mayo to shoot from. Mayo never really got through them or around the side – the vast majority of shots were from “outside”.

Roscommon attack

At a macro level Roscommon’s shooting was very good with them scoring ~1.7 points more than the shots they attempted would normally return. But their Conversion Rate was essentially average at 46% and therein lies a problem. Their high returns from goal attempts (2 – 00 from 2) masks how poor their shooting in general was. They had 16 point attempts from play and returned just 0 – 05 (31% Conversion Rate; Expt Pts -2.42).

It is quite possible, in a one off game in the replay, that they will again create more goal chances than Mayo and convert them all. It is much more likely however that they will revert to the mean on their goal attempt conversions and thus they will have to rely more heavily on the point taking (be that from play of from frees).

One point to note here is the affect that Mayo’s defence had on Roscommon. Above we showed how Roscommon helped themselves by keeping Mayo, in the main, on the outer perimeter. Roscommon got inside Mayo more often (see shot chart below) but the Mayo defense deserves credit as they heavily pressurised 75% (12 of 16) of Roscommon’s point attempts. This included a ~35 minute period post the second goal where they heavily pressurised 8 of Roscommon’s next 10 point attempts leading to Roscommon returns of 10% Conversion Rate (0 – 01 from 10) with a combined Expt Pts of -3.31.

Now undoubtedly there was “scoreboard pressure” as Mayo overturned the 7 point deficit that led to poor decisions and execution in the shots but Mayo definitely aided those poor decisions.

75% heavy pressure is high and at times they walked a bit of a tightrope offering up six attempts from a free with four coming inside the 45 – but you’ll take a combined return of 41% ( 0 – 09 from 22) from all point attempts.

Kickouts

Very even all told. 20 kickouts went passed the 45 with both teams winning 10 each. As with the general trend mentioned above Mayo were better at converting those possessions to shots.

In an interview post the Cork game Rochford mentioned, in assessing A O’Shea’s impact, how he had aided smaller things such as winning the throw in. Here Roscommon not only won both throw ins but scored off both as well.

APPENDIX
Roscommon’s shot chart

Mayo’s shot chart

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

Galway v Mayo 2017 Connacht

June 13, 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
Galway 59 37 28 0 – 15 15.23
Mayo 54 39 29 1 – 11 16.89

Outside of a few extra possessions both sides had an eerily similar outing to that of their 2016 encounter. In that game Galway had a 64% attack rate (v 63% here), 78% shot rate (v 76%) and a 52% conversion rate (v 54%) though their Expt Pts at ~11 was much lower in 2016 than the ~15 points here. Part of that divergence in Expt Pts was the fact that in 2016 Galway scored 1 – 01 from their two goal chances; here they missed the one lone attempt, from a relatively acute angle, by Gary O’Donnell early in the second half. Those three shots alone equate to a swing of 2.79 Expt Pts.

What of Mayo? In 2016 they recorded an attack rate of 79% (v 72% here) and a shot rate of 66% (v 74%). A slight adjustment on how they moved the ball in that they got inside Galway’s 45 at a lesser rate but managed more shots whilst in there however ultimately the net result was the same – 29 shots in both games. Again there are similarities in their shooting; getting 12 scores in both games for a conversion rate of 41% whilst the Expt pts was -2.89 in 2017 and -3.20 in 2016.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Mayo’s shooting

Mayo’s goal & deadball attempts were average – which given the prevailing conditions in Salthill was probably better than could be expected. They scored 1 goal from their three attempts whilst Cillian O’Connor returned 0 – 05 from his 7 deadball attempts with both misses coming from the 45 and beyond. As stated a reasonable, acceptable, standard day.

What let them down, badly, was their point taking. In total they scored 0 – 06 from 19 attempts for a conversion rate of 32% (Expt Pts of -2.78). You could blame the conditions – and they were very difficult – but Galway had a stat line of 0 – 07 from 17 (41% conversion rate; -0.30 Expt Pts. Basically average). You could also blame shot selection but again the Expt Pts shows that they should have returned 0 -10 from the shots attempted. Where they took their shots from was not an issue. There was a degree of difficulty added by the conditions but nothing that would compensate for such poor returns.

What adds to the fact that it was Mayo – and not some other criteria – is the fact that it mirrored 2016. Then Mayo scored 0 – 05 from 19 attempts (26% conversion rate; Ext Pts of -4.20). Mayo’s wider attacking malaise can be further illustrated by the fact that Cillian O’Connor had 10 attempts across the two games (26% of Mayo’s total) but only scored 0 – 01 (Ext Pts of -4.21). There’s no question re his fight, desire, willingness to go to the final minute but when he’s not converting Mayo will struggle as there is no one else to pick up the slack. Be that in a volume or an accuracy sense.

Galway’s defence

Can we attribute any of Mayo’s poor shooting to Galway’s defence? Surely it cannot be a coincidence that two of Mayo’s worst offensive displays – production wise – occurred against Galway?

Firstly Johnny Heaney was heroic here in blocking the two goal attempts – if either one of those go in the narrative (that dreaded word) around this game is very different. We can definitely chalk that up to the defence! Perhaps a more repeatable marker is that 13 of Mayo’s 19 (68%) point attempts were taken under strong or severe pressure. We have only just started to properly grade this pressure metric but as a reference Mayo recorded 50% & 44% “high” levels of pressure on Dublin’s point attempts in the 2016 final and replay. I’ve no doubt 66% will be on the high side come year end. Galway were excellent at pressurising the Mayo shooter.

… and yet it was not all down to Galway; Mayo missed all 6 attempts that were taken under little or no pressure ….

Galway’s shooting

Galway’s shooting from play was average; 0 – 07 from 17 attempts for a 41% Conversion Rate and an Expt Pts return of -0.30. Again given the condition this was quite good.

What was very good however was their deadball striking. In total they returned 0 – 08 from their 10 deadball attempts with Armstrong returning a very good 0 – 06 from 8 (including 3 from 3 on frees and an overall Expt Pts tally of +0.86; his excellent striking basically added 1pt above what an average day would have returned). Normally this would be a place to bash any defence that gave up 10 frees but in this instance 5 of those deadballs were 45s.
These can be attributed to player or defence on an individual basis but you are quite unlucky to give up 5 in a game where the opposition only has one shot on goal.

Kickouts

Both teams diced with death at times losing a combined 6 of their 26 short kickouts. Galway had the best ultimate return here however scoring 0 – 03 directly from these short kickouts. Mayo didn’t manage to return anything from the two Galway short ones they won.

14 (35%) of all the kickouts went past the 45 with honours being split evenly at 7 apiece. Unsurprisingly, given the high turnover rate within the game, only 3 of these 14 possessions progressed to a shot.

APPENDIX
Galway’s shot chart

Mayo’s shot chart

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

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

Mayo v Tipperary 2016 AI Semi Final

August 23, 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
Mayo 57 41 33 2 – 13 21.34
Tipperary 52 39 29 0 – 14 16.36

Goals. They win games and set the tone for how a game unfolds. Mayo had three attempts scoring 2-00 whilst Tipperary, chasing the game for much of the afternoon and after carving out 13 goal chances combined (scoring 4-02) against Derry & Galway, didn’t have one attempt.

Tipperary shooting

First up the positive. Tipperary’s deadball accuracy was excellent hitting 0 – 09 from ten attempts and nine on the trot – especially when they needed them – after O’Halloran missed their first one from outside the 45. The Expt Pts for these ten attempts was 8.25 giving a return of +0.75. With a conversion rate of 90% an Expt Pts of +0.75 does not appear overly generous however this, as the chart below shows, is an indicator that the frees were of the easier variety and also ties in to the fact that they didn’t have any goal attempts.

Mayo were on notice and were not going to let them through.

Tipp deadballs

An overall Expt pts of -2.36 incorporating no goal shots and good accuracy on frees leads to some very poor shooting from play. Tipperary were just 26% (5 from 19) on point attempts from play with an Expt Pts tally of -3.11. These weren’t some collection of long range “shoot and hope” efforts either as only two came from outside the 45.

Tipp from play

As the chart above shows there were some very poor efforts contributing to that 26%. Tipperary had nine efforts from the most central zones but only scored 0 – 03 (Expt Pts -1.73). From wider angles they were 0 – 02 from eight (Expt Pts -0.62)

This is the second consecutive game whereby a team has underperformed when shooting from play against Mayo (Tyrone were 27% on 22 shots with an Expt Pts of -3.36). At some stage we are going to have to give the Mayo defence some credit for these poor returns!

Looking at Tyrone & Tipperary’s 41 shots from play Mayo applied pressure to 66% of them. We don’t use pressure in the numbers but for the last four years 51% of all shots tracked were recorded as being taken under pressure. Accepting that everyone’s definition of pressure will be different we can say that Mayo’s defence has applied pressure at a greater level than is the norm – and their opponents shooting has suffered, at least in part, as a consequence.

Mayo shooting

Mayo’s overall shooting was as poor as Tipperary’s with a total Ext Pts of -2.34. But whereas Tipperary were consistent in their issues throughout the game Mayo were gloriously inconsistent.

Expt Pts

Up until the goal in the 25th minute Mayo were a very poor 25% (3 from 12) with an Expt Pts of -3.84. From play it reads even worse with a paltry 0-01 registered from 8 attempts (13%) including a glorious missed fisted point attempt from the 20m line. And then the goal happened.

From the 25th minute until the end of the first half Mayo were a mirror image scoring 1-07 from just eight shots (Expt Pt of +4.70). Within that span they only had one possession that did not end in a score. A point per possession return of 0.40 is generally very good; Mayo returned a barely believable 1.11 points for those nine possessions. It was a stunning “power play”

And then half time happened. D O’Connor responded to Quinlivan’s free early with a trademark strike from the right in the 37th minute and then …. nothing. Radio silence. Mayo managed just two shots – let alone garner any scores – in the next 17 minutes. As brilliant as they had been prior to half time they were inept here. From their 1.11 points per possession – on 9 possessions – prior to half time they now went 11 possessions without scoring. Not only that they managed just five attacks and two shots in that period.

Mayo completely ceded the game to Tipperary who, in that same time period, garnered 17 possessions scoring 0 – 04 from 10 shots. If Mayo allow such a fallow spot in the final you have to imagine that either Dublin or Kerry would punish them at a higher rate than Tipperary did (0.24 pts per possession on those 17 possessions).

The goal

The build up to the second goal was very fortuitous but there was nothing lucky about the first.

Mayo goal v Tipp

Although the move for the goal emanated from a misplaced hand pass involving one of the Tipperary defenders bringing the ball out they were still well set when Higgins approached the 45. They were manned up 4 on 4 (Campbell (3) has McLoughlin (10) on his shoulder just out of picture) with an extra trailing defender (18). It is a testament to Higgins’ speed and close ball control that he was not just able to round Fox (12) but also that the covering defence couldn’t get across to him. By bursting through the defence at speed either Campbell (3) or Feehan (7) had to leave their man and stop the shot.

Appendix

Mayo’s shooting
Mayo shooting (V Tipperary 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 Quinlivan (Tipperary) 8 0 – 07 88% 6.23
C O’Connor (Mayo) 7 0 – 03 57% 4.66
D O’Connor (Mayo) 6 0 – 02 33% 2.97
A Moran (Mayo) 5 0 – 04 80% 3.50
P Austin (Tipperary) 5 0 – 01 20% 2.33
C Sweeney (Tipperary) 4 0 – 03 75% 2.15
K O’Halloran (Tipperary) 4 0 – 02 50% 2.07

Mayo v Tyrone 2016 AI Quarter Final

August 8, 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
Mayo 49 37 24 0 – 13 11.55
Tyrone 52 43 33 0 – 12 17.94

Given how the game progressed that is a fairly phenomenal set of returns. Every main marker (Possessions, Shots, Attack Rate, Shot rate) was in Tyrone’s favour yet they lost by a point. But it was no average one point loss. According to their Expt Pts Tyrone should have won by ~6.5 points.

Monte Carlo output

Cranking out the Monte Carlo model (first time this year!) had both teams converted their chances at an average rate Tyrone would have won the game by seven or more points 39% of the time. That’s not just “win the game” – that’s winning by seven plus!! They win the game 91% of the time (90.9% to be precise) with Mayo winning 5.3% and the remaining 3.8% throwing up a draw.

Now games are not, thankfully, played on spreadsheets – or within 20,000 simulations – but how did Tyrone lose a game that they should have won 90% of the time?

Tyrone shooting

The first obvious port of call is McAliskey’s goal attempt. Firstly it was a beautiful heel turn that absolutely foxed Higgins putting him in the clear in behind.

Mayo v Tyrone

In general you are expected to score 1.18 points per goal attempt. As outlined previously there is an inherent weakness in the Expt Pts for goals as it treats all goal attempts as equal. Over time this will even out but when reviewing one shot in isolation this can look quite harsh.

1.18 points per goal attempt equates to roughly 3-02 for every ten attempts. Do we think, out of ten attempts, McAliskey would score 3-02 from that shot? Perhaps not but I don’t believe it is overly harsh either.
Even ignoring the harshness, or otherwise, of how we mark up the goal attempt Tyrone’s Expt Pts from point attempts was -4.76. Breaking that down further it was -1.40 from deadballs and -3.36 from attempts from play.

A slight aside

The majority of the negative return on deadballs can be attributed to Niall Morgan’s three misses (-1.71 Expt Pts). Undoubtedly the attempt from the sideline just before half time was very difficult but the others were very “gettable”. In the three games he started in Ulster Morgan converted 50% of his deadballs (3 from 6) with an Expt Pts of +0.23. His conversion rate is lower than average (~67%) but the Expt Pts shows that this is due to him trying much harder shots. He was average up to this game. In the games covered in the last three years however he was just 36% (5 from 14) with an Expt Pts of -1.63

All told Morgan tries incredibly difficult shots, and his teammates have no hesitancy in calling him up, but over the last four years he is just 35% (8 from 23) with a quite poor, even accounting for the degree of difficulty of his attempts, Expt Pts of -3.11

Back to this game. Tyrone were -1.18 from their goal attempt and -1.41 from their deadballs. That still leaves their point taking from play as a quite terrible 27% (0 – 06 from 22) with an Expt Pts of -3.36.

Peter Harte and Mattie Donnelly were excellent scoring 0 – 05 from their eight shots combined (Expt Pts. of +1.77). Of course that leaves the supporting cast returning 7% (1 from 14) and Expt Pts of -5.13. That is genuinely appalling and even more so when you consider that eight of those 14 shots occurred either from the central zone around the D or inside the 20m line.

And therein lies the heart of how you lose a game you should win 90% of the time; get nothing from your only goal attempt, poor long range deadballs & genuinely terrible shooting from the support cast.

Mayo shooting

Mayo were the opposite. They managed to score ~1.5 points above what an average intercounty player would be expected to. And they needed it as they only managed nine shots in the second half.

Mayo, in a similar manner to Tyrone, had two players on song with C O’Connor & L Keegan combining for a 71% Conversion Rate (0 – 05 from 7) and an Expt Pts of +1.71.

Mayo’s second rank were poor (33% Conversion Rate with an Expt Pts of -0.91) but importantly were good enough to easily outstrip Tyrone’s supporting cast.

One final point to note on Mayo’s shooting was what happened post the red card. In those fifteen minutes after Séan Cavanagh’s was sent to the line Mayo only managed one shot. One. In that same period 14 man Tyrone managed six. We have touched upon the dearth of accuracy therein but looking forward Mayo cannot go into their shells again as Tipperary have shown, especially against Derry, that they will look to get their main men onto the ball in any tight finish. And Quinlivan & Sweeney will get at least three of the six that Tyrone missed.

Kickouts

Tyrone went short on 90% of the kickouts we saw (one was missed by the TV cameras) losing the only two that went past the 45. There did appear to be a concerted effort from Mayo to force Tyrone to go up the left wing with their kickouts in the second half with only the very last one in the 64th minute going right. This meant that McCann or McCarron were bringing the ball out. From this vantage it is difficult to see what Mayo were trying to achieve with this but perhaps with D O’Connor & Durcan on that side they felt they had more energy to constantly track up and down the wing.

Generally speaking Mayo were comfortable on their own kickout winning 85% (22 out of 26). But that was achieved with a bag of pinpoint accuracy to the left wing (especially two kicks landing on Vaughan & S O’Shea) mixed in with losing three short ones.

Those last 10 minutes

We can’t leave without looking at those last few minutes. After McCarron’s missed shot at 67:52 only two Tyrone players touched the ball in the next 6 minutes and 11 seconds – those being Niall Morgan with his skewed free and Daniel McCurry’s snap shot after intercepting Clarke’s short pass to Durcan. In contrast Mayo had 3 team possessions with 55 separate individual possessions in that time. Despite seeming like a lifetime to Mayo supporters their players only held the ball for exactly four minutes. Given that Tyrone were sitting back Mayo were never in danger of giving away the ball however as Tyrone crept forward they had to be brave enough and get into the space inside Tyrone’s 45.

Appendix

Shot Charts

Mayo’s shooting
Mayo shooting (V Tyrone 16)

Tyrone’s shooting
Tyrone shooting (V Mayo 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
C O’Connor (Mayo) 9 0 – 07 78% 5.39
P Harte (Tyrone) 6 0 – 04 67% 3.41
C McAliskey (Tyrone) 4 0 – 02 50% 3.02
R O’Neill (Tyrone) 4 0 – 01 25% 2.49
M Donnelly (Tyrone) 4 0 – 03 75% 1.57

Mayo v Galway 2016 Connacht

June 21, 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
Mayo 56 44 29 0 – 12 15.20
Galway 50 32 25 1 – 12 10.99

As a whole Mayo’s shooting was very, very, poor returning 3 points less than would be expected. But even that does not tell the whole story.

Due to Jason Gibbons injury there were five extra minutes played at the end of the first half. During the last ten minutes of that half (from the 30th minute to half time) Mayo had nine possessions turning all nine into an attack and scoring 0 – 06 from 8 shots. A 10 minute blitzkrieg with an 89% Attack Rate, 88% Shot Rate, 75% Conversion and an Expt Pts return of +2.14. Essentially unstoppable. Either side of that 10 minute purple patch however was atrocious (or as Michael Lyster would say “wogious”. What a wonderful word!).

In the first 30 minutes Mayo had 20 possessions with an Attack Rate of 75% (15 of the 20) and a Shot Rate of 80% (12 of the 15). Both are in and around the average so nothing untoward there. However their shooting returned a paltry 17% (2 points from the 12 shots) and an Expt Pts tally of -4.15.

Galway’s defensive performance must be given some credit as apart from O’Connor’s first shot in the 3rd minute – that led to a pointed 45 – nothing from that first 30 minutes was from the central scoring zone. But even accounting for that you would have expected one, if not two, of the four uncontested shots that O’Connor & McLoughlin attempted to go over.

At least they were creating shooting opportunities in this period. In the second half Mayo had just nine shots at goal with one of those being almost an afterthought of an attempt from a sideline. Mayo managed just three shots from play all half with none after the 50th minute when they were chasing the game. As an aside Mayo did produce one half of football with less shots from play than this previously – the first half against Galway last year.

Mayo never managed a shot on goal either which, in the 20 Championship games I have for Mayo from 2012, is only the third time this has happened. The other two instances were also in Connacht games – 2014 against Roscommon and again last year’s outing against Galway. Looking at the 2015 game in light of this game, and specifically the poor shot volume and goal chance creation in both, maybe Galway just know a thing or two more about their near neighbour than we have given them credit for?

Galway

Galway also struggled to move the ball with only 64% of their possessions resulting in an attack. This was the 6th game completed so far in 2016 and for reference the other 10 returns were 76% & 77% (Derry – Tyrone), 84% & 80% (Cavan – Armagh), 86% & 70% (Monaghan – Down), 84% & 73% (Roscommon – Sligo), 83% & 77% (Dublin – Laois). 64% is a very poor return.

One of the reasons for such a poor Attack Rate was how and where Galway picked up the ball. Of their 50 possessions only 10 were picked up outside their own 65m line – 3 from Mayo kickouts, 6 from turnovers between the 65s and 1 from a shot that was re-gathered. By contrast Mayo picked up 21 such possessions (9 x Galway kickouts, 10 x turnovers received outside their own 65 & 2 x shots retrieved). Galway had much more to do with the ball to create an Attack.

Unless something dramatic happens it is easy to foresee something similar happening the next day against Roscommon. Roscommon will go short with their kickouts and Galway will let them have it. If Galway retreat as they did here, and try to turn over the ball once they engage Roscommon, they will again have to once again cover a lot of ground with the ball.

If you have a low attack rate then you had better have excellent production from what you do get. And Galway did just that – especially in the second half where they scored 1 – 06 from just 10 shots.

Like Mayo they had a very poor opening 20 minutes scoring 0 – 02 from 11 shots with a combined Expt Pts of -2.23. Thereafter however their shooting was immense; 1 – 10 from just 14 shots (a Conversion Rate of 79% which if sustained for 70 minutes would be one of the best recorded) and an Expt Pts tally of +6.44. Unlike Mayo they manufactured two good goal scoring opportunities taking 1 – 01 from them. Are these figures repeatable? Over an extended period of 5 or 6 games then you would have to emphatically say no but in a one off performance? Absolutely

Cillian O’Connor

A quick note on O’Connor’s day. My love for O’Connor – especially from deadballs – is well known but overall he did not have a good game here. His deadball striking was quite good hitting 6 from 8 (75%) with an Expt Pts return of +1.22. One of hi misses could be excused as it was a sideline attempt however the other was a surprising one – for him – from straight in front of the posts. Overall though his deadball striking was its usual self.
His shooting from play however was poor. He had five shots missing all five with three of those attempts not having any Galway defensive pressure applied.

Appendix

Shot Charts

Mayo’s shooting
Mayo shooting (V Galway 16)

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

 

Players with >= 3 shots from play

Shots Scores Success Rate Exp Pts
C O’Connor (Mayo) 5 0 – 00 0% 2.61
P Conroy (Galway) 5 0 – 02 40% 1.90
D Cummins (Galway) 3 0 – 01 33% 0.99
E Brannigan (Galway) 3 0 – 03 100% 1.07

The best free taker?

June 17, 2016

This piece originally appeared in the Examiner’s Championship pullout. I had intended to link to it but it does not appear to be online so I have reproduced it below

The dearth of GAA data can lead to some curious problems. Take measuring the best free takers for example.

Normally all we get in any match report is a list of the scorers and how many of those scores were from frees, 45s etc. Rarely will their scores be put in the context of how many shots they had, how hard these shots were etc. Is the best deadball exponent (although frees make up well in excess of 85% of all deadball attempts we really should introduce penalties & 45s into the conversation) the player that scores the most? The one that converts the most? Neither?

Conversion Rates

The below table shows the Conversion Rates for any player with a minimum of 30 recorded deadball attempts over the last four Championships

Player Shots Scores Conversion Rate
D Rock (Dublin) 33 28 85%
C McManus (Monaghan) 48 39 81%
C O’Connor (Mayo) 112 90 80%
B Brogan (Dublin) 49 38 78%
C McFadden (Donegal) 54 41 76%
D McCurry (Tyrone) 39 27 69%
M Murphy (Donegal) 85 57 67%
M Newman (Meath) 39 26 67%
E O’Flaherty (Kildare) 36 24 67%
B Sheehan (Kerry) 41 25 61%
S Cluxton (Dublin) 56 31 55%

In and of itself this is noteworthy. Many would have placed the likes of McManus & O’Connor at the top of the charts but the long range experts such as Sheehan & Cluxton, who would also have had their proponents, are lower down the rankings.

This does highlight an issue with using Conversion Rates as shot difficulty (both in distance & angle to the goal) is not taken into account. Of Cluxton’s 56 attempts a remarkable 71% (29 x 45s & 11 x frees) were taken from the 45m line or further out. As a point of comparison only 10% (4 x frees & 1 x 45) of McManus’s 48 attempts were taken from the same range. How does McManus’s 81% Conversion Rate stack up against Cluxton’s 55%? Would we say that McManus is that much better of a deadball striker?

Expected Points

By dividing the pitch into segments, and using the results of well over 1,400 attempts, we are able to show what percentage of deadballs are scored per segment. We use this percentage to create an Expected Points (Exp Pts) return – along the lines of Expected Goals for soccer – for every attempt. So if a free from a specific area is converted 60% of the time the Exp Pts = 0.6pts. Doing this for every deadball attempt then allows us to compare players on a more equal footing.

Player Shots Scores Conversion Rate Conversion Rate Rank Total Pts above Expected
C O’Connor 112 90 80% 3 +7.4
C McFadden 54 41 76% 5 +6.1
M Murphy 85 57 67% 7 +4.2
C McManus 48 39 81% 2 +4.0
D Rock 33 28 85% 1 +3.7
S Cluxton 56 31 55% 11 +2.1
B Sheehan 41 25 61% 10 +0.9
M Newman 39 26 67% 8 +0.7
D McCurry 39 27 69% 6 -0.3
B Brogan 49 38 78% 4 -2.2
E O’Flaherty 36 24 67% 9 -4.1

This shuffles the ranking somewhat. The aforementioned Cluxton & Sheehan rise up the leaderboard as the difficulty of their respective attempts is filtered in. We also see the reverse as players with higher Conversion Rates drop down the ranking – Rock & Brogan noticeably.

Brogan is interesting. He only attempted three free kicks in 2015 meaning that the majority of his returns were pre the emergence of Dean Rock. Looking at the above it is easy to see why the free taking duty was passed to Rock. Although Brogan’s Conversion Rate was high at 78% – placing him 4th overall – the negative Exp Pts shows that he was missing too many easy chances. Of his 48 attempts 22 (46%) came from inside the 20m line; and he missed five of those.

Not that Rock is without his issues. In 2013 & 2014 he was an excellent 92% (11 from 12) on frees though this tally was racked up late on in games where the result was never in doubt. He started 2015 in similar form converting 93% of his first 14 however he then tailed off in the later rounds missing three of his last seven against Mayo & Kerry. Dublin have not looked to cultivate a free taker during the league campaign, so they have faith in Rock, however we won’t know if his late 2015 misses were just a small sample size or something else. If it occurs late on again when the pressure is at its most intense will Dublin be able to switch? Brogan, whilst an able deputy, is no better than average whilst Cluxton only hit one from seven in the semi-final onwards last year after coming in cold.

Cillian O’Connor

One of the more noticeable aspects of the Exp Pts table is how Cillian O’Connor & Michael Murphy rise to the top. The argument can be made that the more attempts you have the easier it is to build up an Exp Pts tally – that of course ignores that the opposite is also true. The more attempts you have the greater the opportunity to regress to the mean.

That O’Connor has maintained such standards across multiple Championships is a remarkable feat. Even more so when you consider that the methodology does not account for the majority of his attempts occurring in high pressure games (Provincial finals, All Ireland semi-finals & finals) whilst also being a load bearing totem. He has taken 76% of Mayo’s deadball attempts switching from the left to the right as well as taking high pressure penalties and the majority of Mayo’s 45s.

O’Connor’s consistency is beyond reproach and it is this, alloyed to his proven accuracy, that surely gives him the title of “the best free taker”.

NOTE: Due to space limitations I wasn’t able to expand on certain points in the article. One I wanted to address was E O’Flaherty’s returns. The above paints him as a very poor free taker which is incorrect. He is in fact a very good free taker but within his wheelhouse. By that I mean between the two 20m lines and to the left of the goals. The problem was that for years Kildare did not have a left footed free taker – or a long range one for that matter – so he was being forced to take shots that other designated free takers did not.

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.

APPENDIX

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.