Slaughtneil Vs Killyclogher by Possession and Breach Statistics

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When the TG 4 commentary shortlisted five potential man of the match candidates from Slaughneil’s Ulster semi-final clash, the list read Christy McKaigue, Keelan Feeney,  Patsy Bradley, Paul Bradley and Sé McGuigan. You certainly couldn’t argue with the performance of any of those, or Brendan Rogers from full back for that matter.

With the benefit of GaaProstats analysis, however, there was one obvious omission from that bunch. That was indeed a Slaughtneil man, but the performance of Killyclogher centre forward, Conall McCann, was particularly noteworthy too.

While a total score tally of a single point from a centre forward might not appear noteworthy at a glance, a more significant statistic is startling. As we’ll see, a Slaughtneil player was breached on 25 occasions from start to finish, with twenty of these being direct breaches (taken on and beaten).

Conall McCann accounted for twelve of these breaches, a quite outstanding figure for a single player against such a stern defensive unit.


McCann cuts through the defence

The standout performer, however, at least in terms of possessions, went under the radar. That was Padraig Cassidy, the Slaughteneil midfielder. At 31 possessions, he came in second in overall ball contacts, not incredibly noteworthy for a midfielder, especially in a side that use possession so methodically.

What is noteworthy, however, is the fact that nine of these were “Penetrative” plays. That is to say that he broke the line nine times. The team average was 3.4. More notably, however, is the fact that that he scored or was fouled for scored frees on four of those occasions. With a whole team total of 1-11, that four points were scored/frees earned by a single player, let alone a midfielder, represents a massive performance. He only lost possession once from 31 contacts.

Cassidy is fouled for one of three fouled frees

Cassidy is fouled for one of three scored frees

The other major possession figures and line breaks were indeed recorded by the five aforementioned  players. McKaigue recorded 29 possessions and six line breaks without turning the ball over once from centre back. From wing back, Feeney recorded 31 possessions with three line breaks and two possession losses. The highest possession tally was recorded by Patsy Bradley at midfield, coming in at 38 possessions with three line breaks and no turnovers. With four kick-outs from five won, that represents a powerful performance. Paul Bradley, from centre forward, came in at 26 possessions with six line breaks and only one possession loss. Sé McGuigan was also noteworthy up front for making three line breaks from twelve possessions, in the line of the field where line breaks are the hardest to come by. One of these line break set up their goal.

McGuigan breaks the line to setup Slaughtneil's goal

McGuigan breaks the line to setup Slaughtneil’s goal

Alluding to their methodical possession play, excluding kicks at goal, they only turned the ball over once per player on average.

The key element which GaaProsats figures look at, of course, fills in the equally significant, frequently overlooked, details. That is to say that we have also taken account of Slaughtneil’s “Breach Analysis”. That is to say that we have recorded every time a man was taken on and beaten.

Throughout, they were breached thirty times, a slightly lower than typical figure. Again, a hall mark of Mickey Moran’s management, only five of these were “Grade 2” breaches (where a player is bypassed without being directly beaten).

Noteworthy in terms of personal performances is the fact that McKaigue at centre back, who recorded Slaughtneil’s second highest “Penetrative Play” tally, was only breached a single time from centre back, and wasn’t responsible for any conceded scores.

McCague breaks the line again

McCague breaks the line again

Weighing up against his 31 possessions and nine “Penetrative Play” and four points (including scored frees earned), Cassidy was only breached twice, both fouls. One was cynically intelligent, slowing down an attack, while the other, which saw a scoreable free conceded, was a particularly dubious call from the referee.

Even factoring in these two frees against him, he was undoubtedly the stand-out player for Slaughtneil on the day.

Patsy Bradley’s superb possession figures are slightly dampened by being breached four times.

There is one somewhat noteworthy pattern in all of this, however. That is the fact that of thirty breaches, eighteen were recorded against four particular players. In fact, seven of them were recorded against one single player, six in the second half, five in the last quarter and four in the last ten minutes, pointing towards an obvious conclusion relating to fuel capacity in the tank.

Further, if you take out the twelve breaches which were accounted for by Conall McCann’s runs, you’re left with thirteen direct breaches. That single player was accountable for six of these, pin pointing the one, and only one potential weakness that Slaughtneil may have.

It is worth noting, that that player had a hugely higher than average possession and line break tally relative to the position he was playing in, which depending on how you judge things, could be considered to have balanced, or more than balanced, things out.

Feeney had an influential role in the semi

Feeney had an influential role in the semi

If Slaughtneil are to lift the Ulster title for the second time in three years, semi-final figures suggest they’ll be predominantly looking to the likes of McKaigue and Cassidy, as well as Feeney, Rogers, McGuigan and the two Bradleys at midfield and centre forward.

This article is in conjunction with our official partner, GaaProstats, a newly developed cutting edge G.A.A. statistics and video analysis program available to buy or take for a free trial from early next week. The Possession statistics used in this article were recorded in real time with an automated video of each player’s ball contacts created.

For an in depth statistical analysis of the game, click here Slaughtneil vs Killyclogher Stats analysislogo-gaaprostats-finished


By Stephen O’Meara