There is nothing I can tell the readership of this blog about the Mayo attack that they don’t already know. So I won’t try. Instead we will review the Dublin attack, pitting their returns so far this year against those of the Mayo defence, and see if we can arrive at a score that Mayo will have to beat.
Possession and attack volumes
There are two main components when looking at how teams attack. The first is to review the possessions they gain and how frequently they move those possessions into an attacking position (an attack is defined as having control of the ball inside the opposition’s 45); following on from that we look at what they do with the ball once they have it in the attacking zone.
Dublin are averaging 60 possessions a game. That is quite high – in the four Kerry games shown on TV they have produced returns of 41, 52, 60 and 51 whilst Mayo have returns of 47, 61 and 48 in their three. Styles make fights so the type of game, and indeed opposition, will play in to this return, but it is fair to say that Dublin play a fast, high octane game. How have the Mayo defence fared in this regard? They have allowed the opposition to have 43 (Galway), 52 (Sligo) and 46 (Donegal) possessions. So Dublin average 60 and Mayo allow 50.
Neither team will have met anything like each other in this respect. Dublin won’t have met a team that pressures them on kickouts nor as high up the pitch as Mayo do; equally Mayo won’t have met as slick an attacking force as Dublin. However as we will see below where Dublin’s possession volume lands will be crucial. If Mayo can keep it to the low end of the range – 50 – they’ll have the advantage. Let it creep to 55 and upwards and Dublin will be in control.
How effective Mayo’s pressing game has been can be gauged by the fact that they have only allowed 62% of the opposition’s possessions to be advanced to an attack (60% against both Galway and Sligo; 65% Vs Donegal). Dublin are running at 79% with three games in the 80 percentile. Another hugely influential battleground. Can Mayo’s outfield pressing game force Dublin turnovers or will Dublin be able to kick-pass their way up the field and maintain their high attack rate?
Dublin get their hands on a lot of ball. How do they do it?
It is not just their own kickout that is strong in this regard – Dublin have hoovered up the opposition’s kickouts as well. The importance of the kickout to Dublin’s overall well-being is outlined by the fact that kickouts accounted for 57% of their scores but only 48% of their possessions.
Mayo? They allowed the opposition to have 141 possessions with 47% coming from kickouts. Remarkably similar to the volume that Dublin achieved but the vast majority of that 47% was gained by the opposition on their own kickout. Think of Sligo kicking short, getting the ball but not being able to do anything with it – hence Mayo’s ability to stop teams converting possessions to attacks. In their three games Mayo have only lost 12 of their own kickouts.
Dublin have averaged 60 possessions a game and manufactured 47 attacks from those possessions. What did they do with those attacks?
Dublin have created a shot from 80% of their attacks. Whilst that may seem high the average is 77.7%. In their three games Mayo have allowed 75% with them tightening up as the games progressed (Galway 81%, Sligo 74% & Donegal 70%). Dublin slightly above average – Mayo allow slightly below average.
Dublin’s high scores are not the direct result of any innate ability to create shooting opportunities; more it is linked to their high number of possessions (hence the importance of the possession battle) that lead to a high volume of shots. That and accuracy in their shooting. The average success rate for shots taken is 51%. Dublin are operating at a quite ridiculous 61% with three of their four performances above 64%. How are they compiling such impressive numbers?
Dublin are well ahead of the averages on all three elements of shooting.
Dublin converted all their deadball attempts in the Longford, Kildare and Fermanagh games. The three misses occurred against Westmeath when Dean Rock relinquished his duties – Connolly and Brogan missed one each.
Rock has attempted 14 deadball attempts in this year’s Championship converting 13. A conversion rate of 93% is phenomenal but 14 is not a huge sample size. Bringing in the league semi-final and final against Monaghan and Cork, Rock’s conversion rate is maintained at 93% (25 from 27 attempts) which includes 3 from 3 on 45s – he is (or at least has been thus far) a huge weapon for Dublin.
Dublin are attempting 5.5 goal shots per game – which doesn’t seem excessive however two of those games, Westmeath and Fermanagh, were against packed defences. In those two games they managed 7 shots at goal. Against Kildare and Longford they had a combined 15. What Dublin are doing this year – as opposed to the previous three years – is converting those chances. They have scored a goal on 55% of their attempts; in the last three years this was 31%.
Although this has the lowest conversion rate of the three components it may be the most impressive. Dublin have had 113 point attempts converting 63% of them. If we were to use an Expected Points analogy their accuracy is adding 3 points a game to their scoreline above what an average team would return from the same shots. Three points. A game.
There is no one area of strength in their point taking – just all round general excellence though it is worth highlighting the “inside left” position. Brogan has been on fire from here this year taking 11 of the 15 shots – and converting 8.
What of Mayo? They have allowed teams to convert 52% of their shots which is essentially average. The relatively low volume of scores (10, 13 and 11) is not as a result of brilliant defensive play at the back but rather, as we have seen above, through them minimising the volume of attacks that the opposition has and then allowing average returns on shooting once a team gets inside their 45.
What will Dublin score?
So based on nothing other than the returns we have seen from both the Dublin offence and the Mayo defence in 2015 what can we expect Dublin to score?
Dublin average 60 possessions whilst Mayo cough up 50. Picking the midpoint at 55 is too easy; for all their faults Kildare’s strategy on their own kickout limited Dublin’s possessions to 49. Mayo will be more competitive on Dublin’s kickouts depriving them of easy possession on their main primary source. I’ll plump for below the midpoint – 53 possessions.
Dublin convert 79% of possession into an attack whilst Mayo have allowed 62% – this is the big imponderable. I think Mayo will be very strong here – but very strong is still restricting Dublin to an Attack Rate of ~70%.
So Dublin will have 53 possessions and will convert 70% to an attack. That equates to 37 attacks. Dublin get a shot from 80% of their attacks whilst Mayo allow 75%. The average is 78% so we’ll give Dublin that; Dublin end up with 29 shots (53 *0.7 *0.78).
Mayo have allowed 11 attempts at goal in their three games (3.67 per game). Dublin have averaged 5.5. I don’t see Dublin ripping Mayo apart but without the defensive cover that Westmeath and Fermanagh brought I think it is fair to assume that Dublin will have more goal chances than in either of those games (3 and 4 respectively). I’ll plump for 5. Dublin are converting 55% of their goal chances (which would equate to 2.75 goals) whilst the average is 33% (1.65 goals). Law of average says two but this will be huge for Mayo. Keep Dublin to one goal and you have to fancy they are favourites – Dublin get two and the confidence will surge.
The remaining 24 shots need to be broken down into deadballs and point attempts. Mayo have allowed the opposition c.6 shots at goal from deadballs; Dublin have attempted 4. The threat of Rock should see a disciplined performance from Mayo – if not he will do serious damage on his own. We’ll go for the middle ground with 5 attempts. Given Rock’s performances to date we could give him all 5 but we’ll assume he regresses in this game and give him 4 – an 80% conversion rate.
That leaves 19 shots for a point. Overall Mayo are allowing the average whilst Dublin are shooting the lights out. I don’t for a second believe Dublin will have the same lack of pressure as previously encountered (both in terms of physical pressure and mental through being so far in front) so they will regress. But how far? Normally 45% of all point attempts are converted (the 51% average includes deadballs) with Dublin running at 61%. I think somewhere in the 52% range is reasonable given the talent, and form, that is at their disposal. This converts to 0-10.
So there you have it. Dublin will score 2-14 with 10 points coming from play and 4 from deadballs.