Throughout the 2015 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 2015.
Kick Out Statistics
This match will serve to raise further questions regarding the importance of winning the kick out contest. Fermanagh won 29 from 44 kick outs (66%). Despite this, they were on the receiving end of a 10 point defeat. Fermanagh took 14 of their own 27 kick outs short, which helped them claim possession from 81% of their own kick outs (22/27). Monaghan only managed to win 59% (10) of their own 17 kick outs, with 7 of these taken short. Worryingly from a Monaghan perspective must be the fact that they lost possession from 7 of their 10 kicks taken into contested zones. Fermanagh used the short kick out more frequently than Monaghan, but it would appear Monaghan were more dependent on the short kick out to gain possession from their own kick outs.
Figure 1: Kick Outs Won
Figure 2: Kick Out Breakdown
Fermanagh’s kick out dominance, winning 14 more possessions, was almost entirely negated by the number of turnovers they conceded in comparison to Monaghan. Fermanagh lost an Ulster Championship high of 30 possessions, while in contrast Monaghan produced the most frugal performance in terms of maintaining possession, only forfeiting possession 18 times. Across the board Fermanagh will be disappointed with their figures, but in particular hand passing which cost them 9 possessions, and shooting – 6 shots coming up short or blocked, handing possession immediately back to Monaghan.
Figure 3: Turnovers
Possession to Scores Ratios
Despite Fermanagh’s dominant display from kick outs, their inability to retain possession resulted in the possession count being fairly balanced, with Fermanagh only managing a 51% share of possession count (52 possessions) to Monaghan’s 49% (49 possessions). Fermanagh were also less effective at each stage of progressing possession to a score. Most important was Monaghan’s superior ability to take chances, converting an Ulster 2015 high of 64% of shots. In contrast, Fermanagh only scored 48% of shots taken.
There is little doubt that Fermanagh’s short kick out strategy allowed them to gain primary possession, the depth at which they gained this possession contributed to their high turnover count. While the short kick out enables a team to gain unopposed possession, it does present the problem of having to progress this possession a greater distance, and through greater traffic before getting into a scoring position.
Neither team will be too disappointed with their shooting, although Fermanagh will want to reduce the number of shots dropped short or blocked ahead of their repeat fixture versus Antrim in the qualifiers.
Figure 4A & 4B: Possession to Scores Ratios & Shot Outcomes
Monaghan’s excellent shot success of 64% contributed to them usurping Donegal as Ulster’s most productive team in the 2015 championship, returning 4.7 points for every 10 possessions. Fermanagh were only able to manage 2.5 points per 10 possessions, slipping from a rating of 3.3 versus Antrim in the Quarter final. Despite this, a rating of 2.5 would normally see Fermanagh in contention in most matches, but unfortunately it rendered them unable to compete with Monaghan’s stunning return of 4.7.
Figure 5: Productivity
Fermanagh produced a reasonably impressive display, and statistically it would seem hard to comprehend how they ended this match with a 10 point defeat. They dominated kick outs, and despite coughing up too many possessions they were able to convert an acceptable 48% of their shots, and return 2.5 points per 10 possessions – all fairly strong numbers that should see them in contention for victory.
However, they were unfortunate enough to come up against the most clinical Monaghan performance over the past number of years. Despite getting cleaned out in the kick out stats, Monaghan were able to punish a significant number of Fermanagh turnovers by creating scoring chances. Their ability to take these chances was also greatly superior to any other team that has performed in the Ulster championship so far in 2015.
Fermanagh could look at their kick out dominance as a positive. However, they should be cautious about this and consider whether their strategy, while successful for winning primary possession, actually contributed to their problems with progressing possession to scoring areas, and ultimately caused them to have a turnover count of 30. Gaining possession in deep areas, especially when Monaghan had time to get organised, meant having to move possession the length of the pitch, past and through a lot of Monaghan traffic, ultimately resulting in lost possession on too many occasions. If they examine the contested kick outs in this match, they were able to win 7 from 10 that Monaghan placed in contested areas, and 8 from 13 of their own to contested areas. They won 65% of all kicks to contested areas. Maybe it would be in their interest to play more of their own kicks to contested areas.
While their shooting was quite strong with 48% success, it fell short of the targets Donegal and Monaghan have been hitting this year (55-70%). There is scope to raise this success rate for Fermanagh, with 6 shots having come up short and 3 blocked.
The tendency after a 10 point win is to settle into a comfort zone, but with Monaghan’s long term summer targets fairly clear they will be looking at every facet of their performance to find potential gains ahead of the Ulster final. The obvious issue is their performance from kick outs. While conceding opposition kicks short may work in their favour, they be concerned with their own kick outs when placed to contested areas – winning only 30% in this match. This could prove problematic should future opponents press up to prevent short kick outs, and forcing kick outs to be contested.
Monaghan will hope to maintain their shooting accuracy and efficiency when in possession for the Ulster final and beyond. Both their shot success rate and their turnover count set new bench marks for the 2015 Ulster championship.