Some facts, figures and conjecture

Time for some stats, I reckon.  I’ve been having a look at how the scoring has been going for (and against) us in this year’s NFL and have compared it to the situation at the same stage last year.  Then, as you’ll recall, we’d already secured our Division 1 status (although we didn’t know it at the time) having racked up five points and, although we lost our last two matches, neither Kildare nor Laois were able to nudge ahead of us at the bottom.  This year, we’ve four points to our credit, which means that we don’t, like last year, have the luxury of losing to Galway and Tyrone in our final two matches but I’ll come back to the permutations of how Division 1 might pan out in a bit.  First let me deal with the stats.

As the Spailpín correctly noted in his match report from Ballina, scoring is a problem for us this year and the figures clearly bear this out.  After five rounds last year, we had 4-68 (80 points) in the sack, whereas this year we only have 2-56 (62) to our credit.  That’s a 23% reduction in our total points tally compared with the same stage last year, which, no matter how you look at it, is pretty significant.  We’ve only managed 2 goals in five games (and one of those – the one against Westmeath – required three attempts by the two Morts before the ball finally hit the net) compared to four after five in 2008.  Our points tally is well down too – a whole 18% lower than this time last year.

But (and despite having one league point less at this stage compared to last year) our points difference now (+4) is actually one point better than it was after five rounds last year.  Which, of course, leads to the inescapable conclusion that we’ve conceded a whole load less this year than we’d done at this juncture twelve months ago.  This year, we’ve only let in 3-49 (58 points) – which, incidentally,  is only a point more than Derry and Galway have conceded and seven more than the Kerrymen; Westmeath, by contrast, have been hit for a total of 86 points – compared with 8-53 (77) after five rounds last year.  The big difference between 2008 and 2009 is, of course, the number of goals we’ve let in – we’re down from eight to three, which, apart from Kerry and Galway (who have yet to have a green flag waved in their faces) and Derry (who have also let in three), is a lower total than anyone else in the Division.  Points conceded aren’t down as much, but they’re still 8% down on this time last year.

Here’s this story in a nice neat picture:

2008-2009-nfl-scores_So, scoring is a problem for us this year but – despite the advent of the new rules, which should be making it easier for forwards to get scores – our rate of concession at the back is much, much better than it was last year.  That mightn’t be hard, you could argue, given our open-house approach to opponents last year but loose defending has been a constant feature for the best part of two years and it’s good to see proof that this area has been tightened up visibly this year.  Mick Meehan and his pals (who have eight goals to their credit this year already: that’s the same as ourselves, Derry, Tyrone and the Dubs have together managed to net) will, no doubt, stress-test our improved backline on Sunday but those figures would suggest that we might do better in terms of scores conceded at Tuam than many would expect us to.

As mentioned, our principal failing this year – one which is likely to face us again next Sunday – is our inability to get scores ourselves.  The table below contains details of our scorers in the five league games this year and, once again, Conor and Alan are our top scorers – between them accounting for 39% of our total in the league to date.  We’re not suffering from a shortage of scorers – what with seventeen separate players contributing to our scoring tally – but what we are most definitely in need of is at least two other forwards who can do the business on a regular basis.  As you can see, Trevor, Austie and Andy Moran (now no longer playing as a forward, of course) are the next on the list after the top two and, I dunno about the rest of you, I wouldn’t regard any of these as lads you could rely on to weigh in with three or four points in every game.  Until we’ve got forwards like this – at least four of them, with Conor and Alan being two – we’re always going to end up huffing and puffing, trying to turn possession into scores.

Here’s the scoring chart for the 2009 NFL to date:


And, finally, some conjecture about how the league might end up for us.  We’re not, I have to admit, in the kind of dire straits I portrayed on Sunday evening (we had played badly, I had driven 320 miles, I was a bit grumpy) but that doesn’t mean we’re safe either.  The good news, I think, is that a draw against either Galway or Tyrone will probably (though not definitely) be enough to keep us up, as our points difference is better (by eight points) than Tyrone and considerably better than Dublin (we’re 17 up on them) and Donegal (18).  Westmeath are, of course, doomed at this stage.

If Tyrone beat Derry next weekend and Donegal beat Westmeath, then we’ll only drop into the bottom two on Sunday evening if we lose to Galway and the Dubs beat Kerry.  I don’t think all that will happen so we have every chance of still being out of the bottom two going into the final round of matches.

If we lose to Galway and to Tyrone then I can’t see how we can survive, no matter how the other games go: assuming we lose both, then if Dublin beat either Kerry or Westmeath, they’ll finish above us; likewise, if Donegal beat Westmeath or Derry, they’ll end up ahead of us and if Tyrone do beat us, then they’re obviously okay too.  Where it becomes interesting is if we manage to scrape a draw from either the Galway or the Tyrone game and then end up on five points with both Donegal and Dublin (a likely outcome, as both still have to play Westmeath but also have one tough match as well) and, if this happens, then it looks like we’d survive – just like we did last year – on points difference.  Last year, we had the forwards to thank for keeping the show on the road and making up for all those goals conceded at the back.  This year, however, it’s pretty clear that, if this scenario does come to pass, it’ll be our reduced propensity to concede scores that’ll be the decisive factor in our retaining our Division 1 status for another twelve months.

12 thoughts on “Some facts, figures and conjecture

  1. too many ifs wj. we should have it nailed down at this stage. i think our points diff would get us through if we can snatch a point from last two games. given the form that Galway are in, i think our best chance is Tyrone, they do have a problem with us.

    re the scorers chart, how many of morts points were frees from point blank (take away the ones won by others). how many he has missed from point blank. I still think c mortimer has a lot to offer but needs to reinvent himself.

  2. Not sure what those figures would look like, McH, but of Mort’s 14 points, 11 have come from frees and he hasn’t scored from play since the Westmeath match, when he got one (a cracker it was too). I thought he was a bit hard done by the last day, though – after he went down soft enough under an challenge early-on, the ref didn’t give him anything from then on, despite the fact that he was fouled repeatedly within scoring distance.

  3. Interesting stuff WJ. I agree that a point should be enough. A lot of people seem pretty down about the Galway game, my old fella even thinking we could get one of our biggest ever hidings in Tuam.
    I don’t agree. Games against them are always hard to read. I think we have a decent chance of getting something. We need our backs to stay as tight as they have been and our forwards to finally show some form, they’re due a good day.
    My main worry is Meehan. I’m always confident of holding him when we have Higgins as the marker (I can’t remember Meehan ever getting the better of him), but not as sure anyone else knows his game as well as Keith.
    Mort seems to be getting it in the neck again from some supporters, he seems the regular scapegoat. The forward line as a unit isn’t functioning at the moment, I don’t think using an extra defender is helping matters, but at least we’re tighter at the back because of it.

  4. I’ll be putting up fifty years of results against Galway inside the next 24 hours so you can consult with your old man on that when I do. Our worst-ever hiding from them in that period was, from what I can see, the 1982 Connacht final (which I was at, for my sins – what an awful day that was). That was in Tuam too and we were beaten out the gate, by 3-17 to 0-10. I don’t think anything remotely like this is facing us the next day.

    Meehan will be a huge test for Cafferkey on Sunday and I suppose Conroy will be drafted into the sector too to help shore things up. That should help keep the score down but, as the stats show, I’d be more worried about our ability to do any damage to them, not least because so many of our forwards are likely to be, as they were against Dublin, too far away from the Galway posts to cause them any trouble.

  5. Jesus, a 16 point defeat?? I’m pretty sure he hadn’t remembered that game so…..
    I think it was just the knee-jerk reaction after the Dublin game, total deflation really (as I think you suffered yourself WJ). It was hard to be positive.
    Living over in London now, this was the first chance to see Mayo ‘live’. It was pretty uninspiring stuff. Watching it in a Kerry pub only made it worse, you can just imagine those hoors and the comments throughout the match….
    Thank God for the rugby and the Midwest commentary on the U21’s

  6. That 1982 one was a complete horror show – it was after that hiding that the Connaught Telegraph famously refused to print a picture of the team and left a blank space instead, saying that they didn’t deserve to have their picture printed!

    It was hard to be positive on Sunday evening alright, as my report showed (perhaps more trenchantly than it should have done). If I had to sit through it in the company of Kerrymen, I’d have been significantly more depressed. Everything is relative, I guess …

  7. yeah was there myself WJ. I think i mentioned that to you before…..the day Charlie Haughey turned up which is more than the Mayo team did that particular day. It was a dark day(actually the sun was splitting the stones) right up there with Cork 93. Anyway great stats……I hope Martin Carney has something similar on his clipboard. I often wonder what carney reckons to all thats going on??? We seem to have got a back division playing ok but next Sunday will be a real test. Should we chance the U21’s for this?? I dont know. We definitely have to try to win one of our last 2 games and im not sure if the U21s will be avail for the Tyrone game so maybe its worth a shot. I really cant see us winning in tuam though…they are stronger and have better players playing with confidence. they will also want to put down a marker. To be honest i think our best chance is against tyrone at home.

  8. Is the Tyrone game home or away, I think that we are playing away. Also think that Westmeath might gain at least one point in their last two games which might help us, we may have a target man for the championship, should give more focus to the attack and hopefully up the scoring rate,

  9. The Tyrone game is at home, Mikey – the programme the last day has it listed for McHale Park, though I guess that all depends on how the work is progressing there.

    If Westmeath have any luck at all they should get some return from their last two games. Remember that it was only a late goal – which should have been disallowed for a blatant square ball – that allowed Tyrone to beat them and they have Donegal at home the next day. Paddy Power have them at 4/5 to win that one and, as you say, it’d make life a bit easier for us if they did.

  10. Cant expect any favors from westmeath. They have nothing to play for at this stage. Unlike the dubs and Donegal who with only a point diff of one between them have a lot to gain. A Tyrone win over derry next weekend would leave them a bit less concerned with beating us. we need that- those point(s). Its squeaky bum time. “The joys of being a Mayo suporter” Keep the faith.

  11. That’s just it, McH – we can’t, nor should we expect, any favours from any other county. We have two games left to play and we know that if we get anything at all from these matches, we’re likely to stay up. In other words, it’s up to us to guarantee our own survival in the top flight.

  12. Great to see such interest and fair comment about our county team. Once more Willie Joe take a bow for creating such a forum.Enough of the kow-towing for now!
    I believe we are missing that indescribable factor …the one they call the X.
    Our U21s and minors are playing with a bit of abandon and grit.Scores are being run up and we can actually feel we are watching a work in progress, not just this year but over the last four years.
    Its at senior level we are becalmed.I make no apology for saying that I lay that problem at the managers door. He wasted two full seasons continuing with guys that had come up short.They were the two years that players should have been bedded in with the prospect of a gigantic launch this year…year three.
    Now we are depending on U21s that were fielded a day before, who allowed such a schedule? If the manager has the same demeanour at training that is exhibitited publicly, then we are in trouble.
    Put another way, Eddie O Sullivan was/is a good coach, he won three Triple Crowns.However he failed to flow the juices where it mattered today i.e the World Cup and the Championship. He was a well prepaired guy but part of his make up was that he tried to do everything.On the other hand Kidney gives the impression that he is no more than the bag man. Of course we know the real input he has but the bottom line is that a freed up camp will come out of their shell and do the business. Personally I cannot see our manager turning this lot around and I see no leadership at county board level either.Tough times to continue with the hope that the Holmes/Connelly/Collins triumverate wont be forgotten if we go belly up this year.

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