Thursday, September 22, 2016

Dublin Mayo Score Concession Pictorial Analysis


I read a quote from a statistician recently which suggested that defending is more difficult to quantify than attacking and that only twenty percent of statistics in sports relate to defending. I beg to differ. On the contrary, in terms of how you can remedy problems and predict future outcomes, I'd say that defensive statistics should account for a majority.

A statistics program which I'll have on the market by the end of October will have subtler scientific elements which should allow the Homer Simpsons of this world to quantify who their best defenders are, but in the meantime, we can stick with old(ish) school methods and simply go back over every score conceded with a fine tooth comb and see which defender was culpable (something I think all serious managers should always do).

In my initial post-match article on Sunday's All-Ireland final clash between Dublin and Mayo, amongst other things, I had noted that Dublin had conceded six points and Mayo 1-3 needlessly and unnecessarily. Or as I call them, they had conceded "Grade 3 Concessions".

View full article over at Grassroots GAA:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Why Mayo Came So Close...and Why They Didn't Win


In my preview to Sunday's All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Mayo I had suggested that it seemed unlikely to me that Dublin were as far ahead of Mayo as was the general perception, and that being almost 3/1 on favourites flattered them somewhat. This was based on the fact that in Dublin's four championship games against Mayo and Kerry in the last two seasons, despite attacking phenomenally, that there had been some striking pattern relating to defending and how they fared when they couldn't get their kick-out off quickly.

Read full article over at Grassroots GAA:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Are the Dubs Really Unbeatable?

As Mayo enter the cauldron of an eighth All-Ireland final in 27 years, the bookies have summed up the general sentiment around the country, that poor old Mayo will once again be lambs to the slaughter. Dublin are almost 3/1 on favourites.

On one hand it's difficult to argue. In 31 championship and knock-out league games under Jim Gavin's stewardship, their record stands at 29 victories, one draw and merely one loss. Mayo, in eight attempts in league and championship have failed to beat them once, earning one draw in their heroic comeback in last year's semi-final. Could there be any hope at all?

Considering the fact that Mayo drew with Dublin in last year's semi-final and led by four points well into the second half of the replay you'd have to assume that it would be naive to assume that they don't enter this Sunday's  final with at least a puncher's chance. The question of course is are they as good or better under their current management team as they were under their previous one?

Could Dublin's Defending be Their Downfall?

Considering the fact that Dublin under Jim Gavin to date, in four seasons, have a lost just single game in 31 championship and knock-out league matches and that Mayo have somewhat snuck into the final having failed to win Connaught for the season in six, it's easy to see why Mayo are such significant underdogs coming into this Sunday's final.

There's no doubting that Dublin, not alone have immense fire power, but their semi-final comeback against Kerry illustrates that they have huge levels of composure and character. That's not to mention the lesser commented fact that there is unprecedented technical detail gone into the manner in which they attack, pulling key forward threats into wide positions, creating ample space for defenders, midfielders and other forwards to attack into more space in the centre. All things considered, they're a pretty phenomenal force to be reckoned with.

While their attacking prowess is well noted, could there be however, chinks elsewhere that Mayo could potentially exploit? Let's not forget, after all, that it's only a year since they drew the first semi-final and led by four points coming well into the second half of a replay. Were these displays flash in the pan stuff by Mayo, or could they potentially be closer to the Dubs than many people imagine?

How the Sweeper Will Affect Sunday's All-Ireland Final!

Since Armagh arrived on the scene implementing what has now become known as the blanket defence and Tyrone applied it to devastating effect in 2003, Gealic football tactics have evolved significantly. This evolution is now close to the point I had long pontificated was a natural evolution whereby most teams are now applying a sweeper, even the mighty Kingdom. The interesting point to note, however, is that while all sweepers may appear equal, some are more equal than others!

The tactical scenarios which saw a sweeper at both ends for Dublin's semi-final against Kerry and will almost certainly be replicated in this Sunday's final allude to a bigger theoretical, structural set up than may appear to be the case at a glance. The case of Dublin "sweeper" Cian O'Sulivan alludes to the matter at hand.

I have argued, until recent tactical developments at least, that the application of a sweeper was simply a very logical tactical evolution and procedure. The reason is very simple.

Do Mayo Really Bottle in Finals?

It's now 27 years since Mayo lost the first of what would be a startling seven All-Ireland finals on the trot from their 1989 loss to Cork to their 2013 loss to Dublin. The theory has long since followed that they bottle in finals, something which obviously doesn't auger well for this Sunday's final clash with Dublin. Is it, however, really credible that seven different teams from the same county, spanning 24 years could really have some sort of culturally shared psychological weakness which prevents them from producing their best stuff on the big day? Or that the weight of history now weighs so heavily on their shoulders that they have come to be chronic chokers on the big stage? At face value it certainly appears as though there could be. To lose seven finals out of seven, all things being equal, the chances of it merely being a coincidence runs at less than one percent.