Dublin Mayo : Cluxton’s Kicks, Bad Shooting and Breaks Cost Mayo Heavily
When you lose by 1-16 to 0-7 it’s generally pretty difficult to find a silver lining. Our analysis, however, dificult as it may seem to believe, for the most part, showed that Mayo weren’t actually that far off the mark, at least in the first half.
Undoubtedly Mayo have amongst the best and most athletic players in the country, but they’ve also had three of the best management teams in the game since 2010. As their recent history of beating All-Ireland champions yet underwhelming in latter rounds has illustrated, they’ve hatched specific game plans to beat and draw with oppositions who, man on man, were probably better than them.
Dublin are that good that even if a few small dynamics go against them, they’re not going to lose by a goal and nine points. They might lose by a few like in 2014 to Donegal, but they won’t be hammered. Even that day, they could have been out of sight in twenty minutes had they finished two goal chances.
Mayo aren’t as good as Dublin, so when a couple of dynamics go against them, against a team of Dublin’s calibre, they be can annihilated. And a couple of dynamics went against them on Saturday.
Good soccer coaches say that they don’t worry about a good striker if he’s missing chances. They worry if he’s not creating them. Now we all know that Mayo can be erratic in front of goal, but there was almost no accounting for how poor their shooting was in the first half last Saturday.
At half time they trailed by 1-5 to 0-2, yet our Estimated Value put them at a value of 8.1 points. If you haven’t clicked the link, just to put you straight, that doesn’t mean that they could have scored eight points. They could have scored two goals and six or seven points.
Taking what you would consider their chances of converting various goal and point chances in the first half, not including pointed attempts blocked, all reasonable expectation would have put them at 1-5, the same as Dublin. Structurally, there wasn’t a huge amount wrong with their play in the first half.
That’s not to mention that they had conceded a goal on that statistical horror show that just keeps on giving. Keepers with an over estimation of their own kicking ability and an under developed understanding tactics trying to pick out players in the half back line with kick-outs aimed at tight spaces. Time and time again, our figures on Zonal Kick-out Analysis are showing this up to be a massive aggregate loser.
Had Mayo hit what you could expect them to in front of goals, and if their management team/statistician knew what we know, and banned their keeper from hitting such kick-outs, by all reasonable expectation, they could have been 1-5 to 0-5 up at the break.
That’s not to mention that that Cillian O’Connor’s efforts at tracking back Philly McMahon for two points, where Dublin hadn’t broken quickly, were barely worthy of a Monday night five-a-side. On general principle/to set standards, if he’s in the side next time out, there’s something seriously wrong.
Their capitulation in the last twenty minutes of the game are cause for concern. Their general play in the first half, excluding kicking, shouldn’t be.
Of course, Dublin had goal chances too and missed a penalty, but the penalty aside, as players go, would you confidently expect the men who missed those goal chances to score if they were put in the same positions again?
Another interesting pattern from Saturday, taking very broad figures, Dublin’s score-lines over the recent years have generally been linked to how many quick kick-outs they’ve got off to the full back line and midfield, and against Mayo, linked to the proportions they’ve got off relative to Mayo. Key to Mayo’s strategy in the last two years was preventing the quick kick-out.
As in last year’s drawn final, Mayo kept Dublin to three quick kick-outs to the full back line, but up from last year, they actually got off eight as opposed to six.
Where Mayo tactically erred was that in their attempts to split the space between players on Dublin’s short kick-outs, they gave Stephen Cluxton enough options to hit three quick ones to the midfield area. They won two and scored points from each. Mayo went man on man for kick-outs in the finals last year.
But in terms of comparisons with the Donegal and Tyrone games, there was one stand-out statistic. Like Kerry against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final last year, Mayo were fleeced on breaks off their own kick-outs.
If you’ve read our my articles on those games you’ll know that Dublin were roughly breaking even on the oppositions kick-outs and being fleeced on their own, on account of being second up to the breaks time and time again.
While Dublin were slightly more efficient in this regard last Saturday, Mayo were pitiful, at least on their own. In fact, only two of Cluxton’s kick-outs ended up being broken. However, the jury is still out with regards to Dublin’s capacity to win breaks off Cluxton’s kicks as Mayo were queued up on a number that were were won cleanly. Cluxton’s measured balls allowed Dublin to win a number cleanly.
On Mayo’s kick-outs, however, Dublin forwards queued up without any risk of being hurt winning the breaks. They won four out of four, three in the second half, which partially accounts for Mayo’s second half catastrophe. It might not sound like much, but three of these four breaks were turned directly into Dublin points.
For what it’s worth, Dublin won twelve of Kerry’s eighteen long kick-outs in the All-Ireland final, mostly on break, totaling a net of six points to zero on Kerry’s kick-outs.
For Dublin, it was business as usual. Amongst other things, a radically increased success rate on break winning on long kick-outs compared to their previous drawn games resulted in a large winning margin.
Stephen Rochford was being berated after their opening game loss. Then they bet Kerry. Now he’s being berated again. Blah blah blah blah blah.
They lost to Galway last year, so we already knew that on the wrong day Mayo can be a catastrophe. Statistical analysis, however, shows that with better kicking in front of goals, with David Clarke opting for kick-outs within his ability/keeping away from statistically catastrophic areas, Mayo being competitive on breaks on their own kick-outs, and all players tracking the way they should, there’s still no serious evidence that they can’t be one of the two or three proper contenders come summer time.
For the Dubs, all eyes will be on the record breaking clash against Kerry!
The stats in this article were compiled using the newly developed GaaProstats statistical and video analysis program. This program has been specifically designed for Gaelic football and hurling. It is now available for all clubs to download free for a month’s trial.
By Stephen O’Meara