Monaghan v Down Statistical Analysis

June 8th, 2016


USFC 2016: Monaghan v Down, Quarter Final, Clones

Performance analysis has become a major component of the coaching process. A combination of statistical information and video clips allow coaches to analyse performance and provide feedback on both individual and team performance. The same process also allows a coaching team to establish positives and negatives from each performance, and should provide them with a guide as to the needs of the team in subsequent training sessions.

Throughout the Ulster Senior football championship 2016, Ulster GAA will be providing statistical analysis, supported by video clips analysing each game.


Possession is considered a key factor in match analysis, despite the fact little evidence exists to suggest superior possession share relates to successful outcome. In many sports, possession is measured as percentage of time spent on the ball. However, in GAA, it is more pertinent to assess possession as a count – the number of possessions each team has during a game.

Possession Counts

Monaghan enjoyed the highest volume of possession so far in the USFC 2016, claiming 51 possessions to Down’s 40. Their ability to convert this possession through the various stages was superior to Down across the board, culminating in a very one sided contest. With a possession conversion of 47%, Monaghan were returning a score from almost 1 out of every 2 possessions. In contrast, Down (23%) were struggling to get a score from 1 in every 4 possessions. Given the 11 extra possessions Monaghan had, coupled with better use of possession it is obvious how the margin of victory amounted to 19 points.


Monaghan had more possession due to their dominance of the kick out battle. This is the first game of this year’s USFC that the kick out action could be considered key to the pattern of play. Down picked up their first 3 kick outs, through directed, short kicks – a period of the game when they were enjoying parity with Monaghan in terms of possession and scores. However, following this, Monaghan visibly ‘pushed up’ for Down kick outs, limiting short options and forcing Down to kick long. Over the rest of the match Monaghan were able to reap the rewards, claiming the break from 11 of Down’s kicks and also winning a couple of Down’s attempts at short kick outs – both of which led directly to scores.


Monaghan and Down were at opposite ends of the spectrum in relation to contesting opposition kick outs. Monaghan delivered the best return of the championship so far (44%), while Down proved the least effective at challenging kick outs (16%). Monaghan’s superior kick out strategy and execution formed the foundation for their dominant performance on the score board.

Opposition Kickouts

Shooting Efficiency

As well as enjoying the highest number of possessions in the USFC 2016, Monaghan were also the most clinical in front of goal – scoring from 65% of shots taken, while Down struggled to 43% success rate. Statistics can be deceptive, with both teams recording the same number of wides (9) during the match. However, when we consider overall shot count (Monaghan – 37, Down – 21) the wide count looks much more favourable for Monaghan than Down. Notably, had both teams been equally accurate in the first half, the score would have been level at half time. As it transpired Down converted 6 from 14 shots, while Monaghan scored 9 from 14 shots.


Productivity is a measure that defines the impact a team has on the scoreboard, relative to the number of possessions they have. It calculates how many total points a team register for every 10 possessions. The calculation considers the value goals can have on performance. Typically, although not true of every match, a value of 3.0 will be sufficient for a team to be on the right side of the result – that is, a team that registers 3 points from every 10 possessions will regularly win the match.

For the third consecutive weekend in the Ulster Championship we witnessed a record breaking performance (since first use of productivity measurement in 2014). Tyrone returned a value of 4.9 a couple of weeks ago, but were surpassed last week by Cavan (5.1), who were in turn outshone by Monaghan this week, who returned 5.5 points for every 10 possessions. Similar to Cavan, Monaghan’s success lay in the scoring of 2 goals, combined with an excellent shot success rate and the highest number of shots of any team in this year’s USFC. Down struggled to generate scores, and matched Antrim with the lowest productivity of the championship so far (2.3). Down can look towards their low shot count (21), combined with their poor accuracy (43%) as the cause of this, but identifying the underlying reasons behind these low counts is crucial for Down to move forward.


Monaghan – lessons for training

It is fair to say that Monaghan’s performance was the most complete of any team so far in the USFC 2016, both offensively, and defensively. They returned 24 scores from 51 possessions, and a productivity of 5.5 points per 10 possessions. Defensively, they were able to limit Down to just 21 shots, from just 40 possessions, meaning Monaghan only conceded 2.3 points for every 10 Down possessions. Despite their dominance, there will still be learning and development from the match;

  • Strategy for opposition kick outs – Monaghan eventually dominated this battle, but only following a distinct switch to ‘push up’ on Down kick outs. Prior to that they had conceded a number of kicks and provided Down with a platform for several early attacks. Monaghan will be keen to identify the correct approach for their semi-final opposition from the outset.
  • Monaghan’s shot accuracy was excellent at 65%, but they still had 13 unsuccessful shots, 9 of which were wides. Several of the Monaghan wides will disappoint them as they were well within the scoring zone. These easier chances may be vital in their semi-final clash.

Down – lessons for training

From a Down perspective, there are little or no positives to be found. Across the board Down were not just poorer than Monaghan, but provided the poorest display of any team so far in the 2016 championship. Identifying the priority areas to focus on ahead of their clash with Longford is crucial – which improvements are most likely to lead to a better overall performance?

  • Variation and execution of kick out strategy. In the very early stages Down were competing well with Monaghan, having taken their first 3 kick outs short. However, when Monaghan challenged Down kick outs, Down appeared to have no alternative other than to kick to contested areas – for the most part unsuccessfully;
  • Shooting in general was poor, with only 43% shot accuracy. This was particularly costly in the first half, and proved the difference at half time. General finishing, including free kick taking, need to be addressed in the coming 2-3 weeks in an effort to raise their success rate at least above 50%.
  • Concession of 10 frees in the scoring zone. An issue that needs to be addressed is disciplined tackling. Conceding such a volume of frees is leading to a number of shots against which, while not necessarily preventable, are being taken under no pressure.