Statistical Analysis of Down v Tyrone Replay

May 27th, 2014


Throughout the 2014 Ulster Senior Championship, Ulster GAA will be compiling a report of the key statistics from each match. The reports will look at a range of factors contributing to game play, including possession breakdown, kick out success, possession to scores ratios and turnover stats.

The purpose of this project is to identify the key differences between team performance, and possibly help pin point where the key differences existed. Ultimately, it is hoped to identify the key area each team needs to address ahead of their next championship outing in 2014.

Ball in Play

Following the drawn preliminary round match between Tyrone and Down we are given an opportunity to examine the statistical changes during the replay that led to a Tyrone win. Regardless of tactical approaches and outcome, we have paid a significant interest in volume of active game time over the past 2 seasons. Once again, the active game time in this game was 44% (Figure 1A), identical to the active time last week.

As figure 1B illustrates, there was little difference between active time in either half, with 17:20 active time in the first half, and slightly more in the second half, with 17:30. In general the question should still be asked regarding the volume of time that is ‘wasted’ with the ball out of play.

Figure 1A & 1B: Active Game Time
01a 01b


At first glance, having watched this game live, many will suspect that Tyrone dominated possession. Surprisingly, in both halves possession was almost evenly split, with Down slightly dominant in the first half (Figure 2A), and Tyrone edging it in the second half (Figure 2B).

Figure 2A & 2B: 1st & 2nd Half Possession
02a 02b

Over the course of the match Tyrone had a marginal advantage in terms of possession (Figure 3), which, given the final result, provides us with plenty of food for thought in terms of how both teams fared with their possession.

Figure 3: Full Match Possession

Kick Out Statistics

Last week Tyrone enjoyed roughly 55% of possession despite winning only 19 from 42 kick outs taken during the game. The overall kick out figures from the replay were identical (Figure 4), with Down once again superior in this department, winning 23 from 42 (55%), and Tyrone only claiming 19 (45%). On the basis of possession share it is fair to argue that Down were better able to capitalise on this superiority in the replay, having increased their possession from 45% last week, to 49.7% this week.

Figure 4: Kick Outs Won

As will always be the case, both teams will assess the kick out statistics in order to identify where they need to improve, in particular their own kick outs. On the basis of figure 5 we can begin to understand where each team will need to improve ahead of the replay. Both teams will be reasonably satisfied with their success rate on their own kick outs. One potential issue that Down may identify is having lost 6 of their own kick outs to break ball. However, they still secured 70% of their own kick outs. Likewise, Tyrone will have little concern on their own kick outs having secured possession from 73% of their own kicks. Both teams may focus on pressurising their opponents kick outs with more success next day out.

Figure 5: Kick Out Breakdown


Last week there was little difference between the number of turnovers coughed up by both teams. However, this week we witnessed a significant disparity, which, on the basis that many other stats up to now are fairly evenly split, would suggest that this is where Tyrone won this match.

Down lost possession on 34 occasions, 18 of which were through an unsuccessful kick pass. Tyrone sacrificed possession 23 times, a figure which was exactly the same as the previous match. Overall, Down will certainly need to address the volume of possession they lost via lose kick passing, while Tyrone might be slightly concerned with having lost possession in the tackle on 8 occasions. Ultimately, Down’s quantity of turnovers undone the success they enjoyed in terms of gaining possession from the kick outs.

Figure 6: Turnovers

Possession to Scores Ratios

Possession to scores ratio is of great interest this week. Last week Tyrone enjoyed 10% more possession, yet the game still ended in a draw. However, this week possession was evenly split, but Tyrone were able to secure a victory. Tyrone’s weakest area last week was creating shooting chances from the attacks they created, while Down were struggling to generate attacks from their possessions.

This week followed a very similar pattern to the first match, with Tyrone (80%) once again able to generate attacks from their possessions much more effectively than Down (62%). However, a key difference from last week was Tyrone’s ability to create the shooting chance from their attacks. Last week they only got shots away from 55% of their attacks, whereas this week they increased this percentage to 76%. If Down were to look for a positive from this match it would lie in their shot success rate of 63%, which was far superior to Tyrone’s 41% shot success rate. Shot success rate will certainly be a concern for Tyrone ahead of their first round clash with Monaghan.

Overall, Tyrone had a marginally superior possession to score ratio of 25%, when compared to Down’s 24%.

Figure 7: Possession to Scores Ratios

Given that possession was evenly shared, and that there was only a marginal advantage for Tyrone in terms of conversion to scores it is clear that Tyrone’s scores were more effective. This is a reversal of last week, when Down were the more productive, having scored 3 goals, to Tyrone’s 2. However, this week Tyrone scored 3 goals, with Down drawing a blank in front on goal.

Tyrone showed a marginal improvement in productivity, delivering 3.6 points per possession (Figure 8), when compared to 3.5 last week. However, Down were much less productive, delivering 2.4 points per 10 possessions when compared to 3.8 last week. It is fair to argue that Tyrone’s switches in personnel within their defensive unit contributed significantly to Down’s reduced productivity, and ultimately allowed Tyrone to secure a victory despite only showing marginal improvement in their own productivity.

Figure 8: Productivity


This replayed Ulster Championship preliminary round fixture provided some interesting statistics, with some obvious differences from the previous week, which evidently led to a Tyrone victory.

Down were able to consolidate their superiority in terms of possession share from kick outs, which enabled them to balance the overall possession battle. Had they delivered the same level of productivity as the first match it is fair to argue that they could have won this game. However, their productivity was significantly reduced with Tyrone forcing Down into a significantly higher volume of turnovers, while also ensuring that Down continued to struggle to progress possession into the scoring zones with a sufficient degree of regularity. By contrast, Tyrone were able to progress the ball into the scoring zones with ease, and this week they made vast improvements in terms of getting shots taken. In truth, it was Tyrone’s poor shot success rate of only 41% that kept this game in the balance until mid way through the second half. Had Tyrone maintained their 52% shot success rate from the original game, the replay could well have been beyond Down by half time.


There will be inevitable disappointment at the result, and there will be plenty of issues that will need to be addressed going forward. From a defensive point of view Down will certainly need to address the frequency with which they allowed Tyrone to progress possessions into attacks, a total of 80% in the replay. This in turn allowed 61% of all Tyrone’s possessions to result in shots. Only for Tyrone’s poor finishing Down could have shipped a very heavy score.

On the offensive side of the game, they will have to address their own ability to create more attacks from their possessions, having been reduced to only progressing 62% of possessions. A significant factor in this appears to have been poor kick passing, with 18 going astray in this game alone. The game was not without positives for Down however, continuing to be dominant from kick outs, winning 55% of all kick outs, and 70% of their own kicks. They also had an impressive shot success rate of 63% in this game, which if repeated should be enough to secure enough scores to win many games, provided they can begin to create more shooting chances.


Tyrone will be satisfied to finally get past this tie, and will have many positives to enjoy. However, they will no doubt be keen to address weaknesses ahead of their clash with Monaghan. Tyrone will be hugely satisfied with their ability to create attacks and shots, but will be very disappointed with their shot success rate of only 41%. They will be satisfied with their own kick out success of 73%, but may look to exert more pressure on their opponent kick outs going forward, having allowed Down to claim 70% of their own kick outs.