This time last year, I did a post-FBD piece on who had played and who had scored in the three games and that was such fun that I’m back again twelve months on with another one, the essential details of which are – like last year – summarised in a neat little table. Voilà.
At one level, the picture this year is broadly similar to 2015 but when you dig a bit behind the top-level figures, the less this appears to be the case. In 2015, we used a total of 35 players (Mike Finnerty quoted a figure of 36 in his radio commentary on Midwest on Sunday and in the Mayo News since but 35 is all I can find from the available stats) compared to 32 in 2014. You’d think, then, that the same kind of experimentation took place this January compared to last but that’s not quite the full story.
Last year, four players – David Drake, Brendan Harrison, Kevin Keane and Shane McHale – started in all three games, while a further four – Stephen Coen, Michael Conroy, Lee Keegan and Enda Varley – only saw action from the subs’ bench. This year, in contrast, every single one of the 35 players used in the FBD started at least one match and not one of them started all three, though seven of them – Chris Barrett, Jason Doherty, Barry Moran, Alan Freeman, Jason Gibbons, Keith Rogers and Mark Ronaldson – featured in all three matches, with Barrett, Doherty and Moran starting in two of these games. Last year, only five players featured in the three games – the four listed above who started in all three plus Jason Gibbons, who lined out in two.
This means that the experimentation this year was far more widespread, with in excess of two entire teams started over the course of the three games. Every player tried in this FBD campaign was given the chance to impress from the throw-in and there was no attempt to secure results through the retention of a core group of players across the three games.
The level of experimentation for the Roscommon game was particularly noteworthy, with eight players lining out for the first time this year in that one and only four lads – Donal Vaughan, Barry Moran, Kevin McLoughlin and Morgan Lyons – retained from the side that started against IT Sligo week earlier. Clearly, if a win over the Rossies was something Noel and Pat were targeting (in the way that John Evans so obviously was) they could have picked a very different line-up for the job. Instead, they chose the wiser course of giving more of the lads a January start.
Top scorer from last year was Darren Coen on seven points but he only played once this January – last Sunday – and didn’t get on the scoresheet. Kevin McLoughlin, who lined out against both NUIG and Roscommon, was our top scorer in this FBD campaign with nine points to his credit.
In total we posted 2-38 this year compared to 3-28 last January (yes, that confused me too when I looked at it first). We conceded 3-29 this month, up slightly on last year’s 3-27. We didn’t qualify for the final this year, just like last year. And the Rossies beat us both last year and this year.
And that, amigos, is the FBD stats update sorted for another year.