The Top Table – NHL – Division 1A

With the glorious arrival of the mighty Yellowbellies to the top table of league hurling I thought I’d take a look at the trends in Division 1A and see what dangers await Davy and his men on their quest to belong at the top table.

Fixtures Disadvantage

Division 1A has 6 teams with 5 rounds – which doesn’t compute fairly – 3 teams have 3 home games and 3 teams have 2 home games. This immediately seems unfair – but has it impacted the results in Division 1A ?

The answer appears to be YES!

Over 6 season with this format – 9 of the 12 teams to face the relegation playoff had 2 home games that season! 50% of teams who had 3 away games have been in the relegation playoff – only 16% of teams with 3 home games have played in the playoff.

3 teams play 2 home games this year – Clare, Cork and Wexford (gulp).

Some solace can be taken by last years league when Clare and Dublin both made the relegation playoff despite having 3 home games – previously 9 of the 10 playoff teams had had 2 home games.

Home Advantage

Overall home teams have won 60% of group games in Division 1A with away teams only winning 31% of the time. But which teams are best at hammering home the advantage?

It’s no surprise to see Nowlan Park and Semple Stadium as two tough venues to collect your points. Unfortunately for the new boys, Wexford are the only team who have to travel to both teams in this years League (the odds are really stacked against Davy – no better man).

Waterford are on a poor run at home. They have taken 1 point from their last 4 home games in the group stages. Wexford arrive there in Week 1 and will be looking to extend this dismal form.

Away Raiders

Waterford are the only team who have won more away games than home games. This year sees them travel to Cork and Tipperary. Last year they won all 3 away games to avoid the relegation battle.

Clare will need to vastly improve on their away form as they face 3 games on the road – to Kilkenny, Wexford and Waterford.

Points Needed to Avoid the Relegation Playoff

I’m sure most managers are targeting a certain record over the 5 games to avoid the relegation play-off and make the quarters. Looking at past results (below) it seems 5 points is a healthy target.

The obvious logic is win early and make sure you win your home games. But only 6 of the 14 teams who failed to win away have avoided a relegation playoff. Points earned on the road are vital.

Dangerous Early Assumptions

After the inter-county hurling famine that is the winter there is a huge emphasis put on the first round of league games. Last year Cork turned in a huge performance against Clare and everyone thought the form was set in stone – the very next week Dublin went to Cork and won while Clare gave Brian Cody his biggest ever beating in a 13-point drubbing.

  • In 6 years of Division 1A only 5 teams of the 36 to start have won their opening 2 games – (14% of teams)
  • 66% of teams who have lost their opening game have won the next day out.
  • No teams has won all 5 games and no team has won their first 4 games.
  • The highest points total in Division 1A has been 8pts – 3 teams have achieved this and 2 of those lost their opening game.
  • Only 4 teams (from 11) who lost 2 of their opening 3 games have been in the relegation playoff – finishing strongly is key.


With Galway, Clare and Waterford having won the League from Division 1B there may be a clamour towards the relegation playoff.

Galway had the luxury last year of trying their full panel in the group stages of 1B. 1B teams had used an average of 27.2 players by week 3, whereas 1A teams had tried out and average of 25.3 players.

Maybe with the 1B effect and the home/away disadvantage highlighted above there might be a few adjustments to the league layout in the coming seasons.

















The 2017 SHC – Defying Expectations

I have wandered down the road of Expected Points (ExPts) for hurling. This is a much vaunted way of judging the accuracy/finishing of players used mainly in soccer. Following from @dontfoul’s gaelic football model and using Dartfish’s excellent x,y capability I started down the road of tagging as many shots by location and by outcome. My model is very much in it’s infancy. I currently have only over 2,000 shots logged from club and Inter-County and will not be happy with a model until I reach 10,000 (sometime around Wexford’s next All Ireland!) – although the early signs are promising.

Looking at the 15 SHC games between the top 9 teams in hurling in 2017 gave me interesting results. I do caution about the system I use being in it’s early days but hopefully this will iron out in time.

Scoring Table – 2017 Season

This table takes the average Expected score for and against for each team in 2017. Galway are leaders in both categories. They generated the highest Expected Score For in their games (28.35) and had the lowest Expected Pts Against (20.85). A remarkable achievement to dominate both sides of the field.

Dublin’s season was a disaster from the sending off against Galway to the goal-fest Tipp put on in Semple Stadium. 2018 can’t come sooner. The numbers show their defence is where Pat Gilroy has to fix – conceding a massive 34.32 ExPts per game – 8 pts worse than the nearest team.

Tipperary’s failure to claim back to back titles appears to have come from a defensive lapse. Cork scored freely in Munster and Clare missed their chances to score on Tipp. The second highest ExPts Against of all nine teams is something a team aiming for an All Ireland cannot afford.

Scoring by Team

Above is a table showing how each team scored in relation to how the average shooter would perform in the same locations. This table shows us:

  • Tipperary scored nearly 13 more pts than expected from the shooting areas they were in. Although a massive 10 pts of this was against Dublin where Tipperary ran riot.
  • Waterford were nearly 8 pts above expected despite starting out against Cork with -3.96 pts on day one. They shot above expected for every game remaining.
  • Most surprising is Kilkenny sitting bottom of the table. Their numbers for the year show that their forwards were completely off form this year. Ger Aylward, Chris Bolger and the great Richie Hogan all sit in the bottom 10 of 2017 shooting accuracy from play.
  • The all conquering Galway team sit mid-table, yet beat all around. This comes down to their shots per game – Galway took on average 43.25 shots per game – 5 more than the nearest team! Galway played the long game and shot from distance, rarely driving inside the 21 (scoring 2 goals in the 4 games recorded and with no goal shots in either Final).

Conceding by Team

The table above shows how much a team conceded compared to what score we would expect them to have conceded from shots taken on them.

This might suggest Tipp having a good defence, as they conceded 5pts less than was expected, but the reality for the Premier County is that they were giving up a huge 39.5 shots per game (8 more per game than Galway) and survived by forcing some misses.

Kilkenny’s defence was only average, which by Cody’s standards is not good enough, but they can argue that they were not the weaker part of the team.

Sharp Shooters

Above is a table of the players who scored more points from play than would be expected from the location of their shots.

John McGrath was the clear leader scoring over 8 pts above ExPts. He beat the ExPts in all 4 games recorded.

Kevin Moran and Jamie Barron were rightly recognised with All Stars and Player of the Year nominations and their shooting was of the highest standard. Both midfielders were in the top 5 most accurate shooters. Kevin Moran shot above Expected in every game after Munster.

Diarmuid O Keeffe is the only defender to make the top 10 and what a season he had, scoring in every NHL and SHC game he played for Wexford. Davy has made a menace out of the St Anne’s defender.

My Expectations

I hope to use the database of shots to work ahead on next season’s SHC, offering post game ExPts results. The data will build and should take weather  and game state into account as it grows.

Any questions – then please comment.

Pettitts SHC Final 2017 Preview – Oulart-The Ballagh v St Martins

This weekend sees the most hotly contested county final in recent memory. Oulart, the dominant, stylish force that has dominated Wexford hurling for an age, face the rising tide of St Martins. This has been a battle marked in most peoples calendar since the turn of the year and was made even more mouth-watering after the opening day battle in Bellefield.

Possible Line Ups

Above is my guess at how both teams will set up. Two very different styles of teams, two serious line-ups.

Oulart’s Defence v Martin’s Attack

Watching Oulart play the Rapparees in the semi-final was like watching Oulart any time under Frank Flannery. They possess a consistent, smart game plan that has annihilated dozens of teams over the past number of seasons. Flannery works on the basis of a strong, solid defence. Like a boa constrictor they tighten slowly as the game goes on, making space to attack like gold dust.

Q1 – How will Oulart deal with St Martins movement and maintain their tight defensive shape?

Oulart will look to try and hold a tight back eight on Sunday but they face a Martin’s attack that is based on pace and movement. The Rapparees offered a similar level of pace in attack in the semi-final but their movement was nothing like St Martins. Joe O Connor at full forward won’t stand still to be marked and will try and drag the Oulart backs out causing confusion, this caused Benny Travers, a quality full-back, and Gorey a serious headache.

St Martins have serious movement work done under Charlie Carter, they cluster and then explode out to confuse backs. Their natural movement is out the field, leaving few inside the full back area, somewhere Keith Rossiter is most comfortable. Can Oulart follow and allow inside space?  Will the young legs of St Martins be punishing?

Q2 – How will St Martins cope if Rory O Connor doesn’t score?

Above shows the scoring from play of the Martins team in 2017. Clearly Rory O Connor is their star performer. Joe O Connor has had a quietly impressive year but Tomas Codd has been scratching his head over his best forward line. St Martins are generating but not converting a large number of shots. What’s most telling is the distance from goal of these shots – St Martins do not possess an inside line that gets goals. With 6 goals from 7 games St Martins are a 3-point shooting team in NBA terms.

Jack O Connor has been airlifted into attack to try offer a better inside threat but despite trying many various players (all with huge potential), St Martins do not have a forward line that scores freely. I would nearly argue that St Martins forwards are more comfortable tackling and pressing, where they excel. If Rory O Connor was to be shut-down by Oulart then this question will need to be answered. Frank Flannery will have one key defensive plan – Stop Rory!

Martins Defence V Oulart Attack

In attack Oulart have the one-man-force that is Garrett Sinnott, the best club hurler in Wexford for quite a while. Paddy O Connor was red-carded for dragging him down in the first game and Oulart will sure look to test out the Martins full back line. Sinnott catches high ball for fun and has quick hands to involve Kirwan.

Q3 – Will Oulart get quality ball into Sinnott?

Where I see a major deciding factor is in how Oulart get the ball into Sinnott. St Martins forwards and midfield are extremely hard working. Led by Jake Firman and Mark Maloney they show incredible energy in shutting down quality clearances. The Oulart half back line and midfield (including Rory Jacob) will be put under immense pressure. In the semi final Conor McDonald was starved of quality ball as St Martins found the best way to stop a threat is at source.

Oulart are no rabbits in the headlights, they are smart, skilfull and experienced. St Martin’s pressing should be something they are capable of handling. This will be an intriguing part of the final.

Q4 – How hard will Dessie Mythen’s rumoured absence affect Oulart?

With Sinnott inside causing havoc many centre backs have been, understandably, sucked back into helping the full back. This has given Oulart their second threat – Dessie Mythen. One of the smartest hurlers at finding space and exploiting it, Mythen has scored heavily this year (see below).

After apparently picking up a knee injury in the semi final there are many reports saying he will miss the final. How Oulart adapt will be crucial. Oulart will need to exploit any space allowed by St Martins covering Sinnott. David Redmond and Tommy Storey are capable of scoring from range but Dessie Mythen’s movement will be largely missed.

How I See it Going

I think this will be a tight match of a very high standard. I don’t think the bookies odds are fair, Oulart are currently strong favourites but I think this game is hard to call. On one side Oulart have been there and done it  – and probably have a mindset of shutting up the voices that say they are old and fading. On the other side St Martins bring an energy and physicality that Oulart haven’t faced in Wexford too often.

I think for St Martins to win they’ll need to penetrate the Oulart defence with goals. Only driving daggers into the Oulart stronghold will be enough. But I haven’t seen enough of this from St Martins this year, they win with jabs from distance, not power punches. This makes me sway for Oulart to shade it, but only just. Wexford club hurling is clearly rising in standard, this game should show it at it’s very best. Lets hope it’s a classic.

Tipperary v Cork : Some Visuals and Numbers

As much as last weekend’s game has been done to death I thought I’d put up some numbers and visuals I have from the Tipperary Cork shootout.

I want to pre-empt sweeping conclusions by saying:

Too much is read into single game results

Tipperary are not suddenly rubbish, Cork are not the second coming. With minutes left Tipperary led. Cork scored a bit and the whistle went, suddenly everything Cork did was correct and everything Tipperary did was crap. The true review is that Tipperary v Cork didn’t meet our expectations – (Tipp win by enough, Cork look better than last year but a work in progress). Because our expectations failed we feel the need to reassess EVERYTHING.

Average Positions

Here is a little visual I have been messing around with over the past while. I have added x,y co-ordinates to my work using Dartfish and plotted the work using this video.

With that info I have plotted every touch, challenge or shot taken by each player. With that my logic is that I have the co-ordinates of everywhere a player was in close contact with the sliotar.

Using this info I can try to give an average position of each player in the match.

This shows a general picture of where the players were based. The main balance you see, which seemed to fit the match was – Cork kept a tighter defence. From Cooper & Fitzgibbon back to Cahalane is all within the Cork 65. Tipp’s midfield was more stretched from the half backs.

This visual does have limitations:

  • Players change position – Breen went from centre forward to midfield, Noel McGrath seemed to play as a third midfielder in the second half.
  • Players cross the field from wing to wing – this has the average position looking like they played in the middle (I am trying to learn better data analytics to overcome this).

Area Covered

Using the xy co-ordinates mentioned in the previous section you can look at the general area covered by a player. If you take the standard deviations (or standard distance) they were from their main position you can calculate an area that they covered as they moved.

This table seems to show that Cork’s forwards covered the most area for their team. Seamus Harnedy covered an average area of 95 sqm as he moved between being a full forward running to the corners, to being a left half forward taking on Seamus Kennedy.

Grouping players by their positions you can see at the bottom of the table above that Cork’s Forwards and Tipp’s midfield covered more ground than their other lines.

Long Ball Direction

The teams took different approaches to attacking the opposition full back line.

The chart below shows the long balls hit by Tipp in play. The blue dots are where they struck the ball and the yellow dots show where they landed. It is quite clear Tipp targeted, their usual spot, the right corner forward area. Callanan is quite adept at moving into this space to score. John McGrath likes to vacate the area to allow for this.

Cork on the other hand were varied in their long strikes. The chart below shows the landing position of long strikes in white dots. They hit ball into both corners for Cadogan and Harnedy and also hitting a few strikes at the heart of the Tipp defence.

Other Numbers

  1. John O Dwyer did not have the sliotar after the 44th minute
  2. Michael Breen had no possessions from the 50th minute to the 71st.
  3. Noel McGrath and Michael Breen caused the most turnovers in the game with 4 each.
  4. In the first half teams hit the ball long (clearances and balls into forwards) 35 times – in the second half it was 65 times – a game of tennis broke out.

Note these numbers are from my tagging of the game (so differences may occur with other reports)

Follow me on twitter @sheikhbarabas for more info!

National Hurling League – Some Numbers up to Round 3

The National Hurling League has gone through three rounds of mud-battling to leave the public very confused. Cork were back, then Dublin were back, then Kilkenny were gone….and above all Wexford are back WOOHOO!

Unlike the many games of the Premier League or Major League Baseball, us hurling fans are not used to the week-in week-out changing nature of sports. We like to watch one-off matches and judge teams for that match alone. Players and Managers have been abused on the back of one poor performance – In baseball The World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs, lost 58 regular season games! Cody struggles with two.

I’ve had a look at some of the numbers behind the league to date…..


Looking at team selection details can tell you a little. Which teams are experimenting in the league, or which teams are picking a strong first team looking to win.

Looking at the three tables above you can see that both Galway, Laois and Limerick have been chopping and changing. Galway have had time to try out 30 different hurlers in the three rounds to date, Michael Donoghue is using their first trip to Division 1B to see their full panel.

Limerick have collected a good few years of strong under-age teams and seem to be struggling to find the best combination of young talent to start. Eamonn Kelly, meanwhile, is scouring his new county of Laois for talent, and they have worked hard at under-age in the past while so he may yet find a few gems.

On the other end of the scale Wexford and Waterford are working off of smaller panels. Seven of Waterford’s team has been constant throughout the 3 rounds. Derek McGrath has picked the same names in 5 defending positions and at goalkeeper, this is understandable as he has faced Tipperary, Kilkenny and a trip to Dublin in his first 3 games. Wexford have been pushing hard for promotion with opening games against Galway and Limerick limiting Davy Fitz’s selection policy.

Much has been made of Brian Cody’s search for a new Kilkenny team but the selection’s show he has built this new team around seven key players who have started every game – Eoin Murphy, Paul Murphy, Padraig Walsh, Conor Fogarty, Cillian Buckley, TJ Reid and Richie Hogan. These seven have had 18 different players tried around them in different lines of the pitch. Conor O Shea already looks like a solid addition to their side.

The Main Clubs

I’m always interested in seeing which clubs are providing the most key players to each county team. Last year Cuala had more hurlers selected for their county than any other club in Ireland, it is therefore no surprise to see them reach the All Ireland Club Final to face Clare’s Ballyea. This success of Cuala has had a major impact on Ger Cunningham’s Dublin in the league so far. Below is a table of the clubs who have had hurlers play the most minutes to date in the league.

Kerry hurling is clearly reliant on a small group of clubs with 5 clubs making the top 20. Kerry have picked their squad from 7 clubs in the county and Clarecastle in Clare.

The 2016 All-Ireland Club Champions, Na Piarsiagh of Limerick are alongside Borris in Ossory-Kilcotton (2016 Laois Champions) and Kilmacud Crokes with 6 hurlers selected for the league, an impressive achievement for any club.

The Set-Piece Battle

Looking at the results to date we can break down the scoring numbers for each county by their differential on scoring from set-pieces.

This table shows us that both Limerick and Wexford have outscored their oppositions by 9 points from frees, 65’s and sidelines. Wexford have made an excellent start to their league with tight wins against Limerick and Galway, this can only have been aided by conceding only 1-10 from placed ball in total over the three games. Limerick would argue that a blown penalty call in Wexford Park would see them further ahead in this table and also top of Division 1B!

On the bottom of the table you see Kerry and Dublin. Kerry have given away 2-27 from placed balls, seven points more than any other team and this is something they should be focusing on reducing. Dublin have a worryingly low scoring balance of minus 11. They have lost games against Waterford and Tipperary conceding 0-10 and 0-9 from placed balls in those games. Even in their win against Cork they were outscored 0-7 to 0-5 from placed balls. This leaves them 9 points below from their nearest Division 1A team, Kilkenny.

Top Scorers

Below are the top scorers from play for Division 1A and 1B. I have separated them out as Galway have been obliterating the table with huge scores against Laois and Offaly.

It is no surprise to see John McGrath top of the table. Stephen Bennett jumped up to the top after his 2-2 scored against Dublin at the weekend.

Division 1B sees a plethora of Galway men take over after their monster wins. Conor McDonald has made the top table after games against Limerick and Galway, in a team with a sweeper – no mean feat.



All numbers and information has been taken from our trusty newspapers and Any changes or emails from Podge Collins to lower John McGrath’s score is more than welcome!


Offaly Hurling – The Long Road Back

As a Wexford man growing up in the late 80’s/early 90’s I saw Wexford fall to great Offaly teams. Offaly stood for a long period at the hurling top table. Not only did they win two All Ireland’s in style in 90’s but they did so with great style.

It should always be noted that this period was against all odds, Offaly does not have a huge population (78,000) and is split between football and hurling – never easy for any county. Carlow is the only hurling county with a smaller population.

Currently Offaly are living up to the expectancy of a smaller county. Their hurling standard has dropped significantly. Many outside of the county have been surprised but the signs of decline have been clear to see for their Leinster competitiors.

Underage Signs – Minors

Over the past 10 seasons Offaly’s Minors have winning records in Leinster knockout stages against only Carlow, Kildare and Meath. Westmeath (2 wins – 2 losses) have made great strides in their underage hurling for some time now and have competed with Offaly.  Also in that period Offaly have lost to their neighbours, Laois, 4 years in a row (2012-15) including a 15 point drubbing in 2013.

Prior to the last 10 years Offaly minors had contested 10 Leinster Minor Finals from 1982 to 2003, winning 4 titles, their last in 2000. This drop in performance at minor level has also been shown in the Leinster Colleges “A” Hurling Championship where Birr Community School last made a Leinster Final in 2005.

Underage Signs – Under-21s

Not surprisingly Offaly have followed their Minor form into the Under 21 Championship. 2007 and 2008 saw the last hurrah of their Under 21’s with wins over Kilkenny and Wexford. Since then they have only succeeded in winning 4 Under 21 games against Laois, Westmeath, Carlow and Kildare.

Last year saw Offaly cling to hope of a revival at underage as their Under-21’s reached the Leinster Final but this was largely down to a fortunate draw which saw Kilkenny, Wexford, Westmeath and Dublin make up the other side of the draw.

Only 6 Offaly hurlers played in the Fitzgibbon knockout stages from 2013 to 2016, with only one hurler, Padraig Gunian playing significant time in the Fitzgibbon Cup weekend. Offaly hurlers played a total of 413 minutes of knockout hurling in the past 4 years of the Fitzgibbon, with Laois hurlers having more than double that with 926 minutes played, in contrast Tipperay are top with 10,579 minutes hurled. Offaly need more young hurlers competing at the top levels.

The Future

The purpose of this article is not to state anything obvious but more to remove the expectancy within and outside of Offaly of a quick revival. Underage development work leads to better players for senior teams. Offaly are only beginning to restructure their underage development system, Brian Carroll is now the Director of Hurling Development. The sad part is that it has taken a decade of decline for this to emerge.

Any hope of a quick fix at senior level would be based on hopes and wishes rather than reality. For Offaly to compete at the top table soon they would require extraordinary work by a manager with skills beyond that of Brian Cody. Patience and hard work are needed. Offaly hurling may even get worse before it gets better.




Wouldn’t it be nice to win something? – Wake up Gaelic Football

How long can a county go without a trophy? For some Gaelic Football counties that answer seems to be – forever. I am mystified why Gaelic Football counties will not accept a two-tier championship.

Lets be clear on this – some teams have zero chance of winning an All Ireland (sshh you Leicester City fans). How do they cajole themselves to train for months to face the Championship season? Players aren’t fools, they know the reality.

Stark Reality 1

Of the 33 teams entering the All Ireland Football Senior Championship

  • 17 haven’t played in an All Ireland final in over 60 years
  • 8 of those have never played in an All Ireland Final.

Stark Reality 2

  • 16 of the 33 teams entering the All Ireland Championship have not faced an All Ireland Semi-Final in the past 20 years.
  • 6 of the 33 teams have only had a single Semi-Final out in the past 20 years.

Stark Reality 3

12 of the teams in the All Ireland Championship haven’t won a Provincial Title in 48 years, 4 of these have never won one.


Two-Tier Approach – Why Not?

Every county enters their team into the current system. They pay a fortune preparing the team to compete. Yet those same counties all operate club championships that are tiered! When it comes to Inter-County they’d rather face 130 seasons of losing than start a season with a chance of winning or even competing.

Winning Lower Tier competitions can be fun! Just ask Joe Brolly’s twitter!

Inter-County could easily be treated like Club, allow for promotion/relegation. Scrap the imbalance, allow for competition. I’m sure there are 100’s of inter-county footballers who would prefer this. The league has now become the premier event for many counties as it offers them a fair challenge with a serious chance of success.

Pride vs Reality

It takes a few years for tradition to take hold but eventually teams will build a history of competition in the two tiers. Nobody likes to be a second-rate citizen but the charade is sapping the enjoyment of football for many counties. Imagine your county facing a semi-final that is winnable and meaningful? That is only a reality for the top teams.

If your county is “above” a second tier then go prove it, win the Tier 2 competition, go on and compete in the top Tier. Back up your belief.

130 more years?

Paraic Duffy has created a super-8 championship plan. I wonder who that benefits? It’s a two-tier championship at present, that is evident and Mr Duffy is rubber-stamping that. Only the current two tiers have no enjoyment for the second tier teams.




Tipperary SHC 2017 Draw – A ranking view

The draw was made on Monday night for the 2017 Tipperary SHC and the 8 groups for the first round of the Championship have been set. Using the year end rankings I thought I’d look at how the draw went and who can we expect to progress from each group.

Roinn 1

The group that stands out immediately is Group 3 which sees three of the top seven ranked teams fight it out for the two spots in the next round. Carrick Swans have been dealt a tough hand. Sars would expect to find a way out of the group in their drive for a 4-in-a-row so the Nenagh Eire-Og match up with Kilruane will be crucial.

Group 1 sees 4 teams all ranked in the Top 13 at the end of last year. Kiladangan have been on a hot streak winning 15 of their last 18 SHC matches ending with a county final appearance. Borris-Ileigh and Loughmore both exited at the Preliminary Quarter Final stage. Upperchurch exited the last 2 championships in defeats to  Loughmore and Kiladangan so they will be up against it to try to qualify from this group.

Group 2 appears to be lopsided with 2 strong teams grouped with 2 teams ranked much lower. Drom & Inch and Clonoulty would look to be hot favourites to qualify from this group. Portroe finished 2016 with defeats to both Clonoulty and Ballina so they will be looking to overhaul those defeats. Drom & Inch started their 2016 group with 2 draws and will look to start faster this year.

Group 4 sees the match up of the cream of the South with Mullinahone and Killenaule being the 2 highest ranked teams in a tight group. They have matched up in the last 3 South Finals with Mullinahone holding a 2-1 win record. Eire-Og Annacarty will be looking to make amends for a disappointing 2016 while Burgess have only won 2 of their last 12 SHC games.

Roinn 2

Roinn 2 sees very even groups based on the rankings. Groups 3 & 4 have grouped teams from the bottom of the rankings. Group 3 especially sees a dog-fight between 3 of the 4 lowest ranked teams remaining from 2016. JK Brackens fell hard from Roinn 1 losing heavily but have ability, shown in their only highlight form last season – a draw with 3rd ranked Drom & Inch. Clonakenny will be hoping to avoid second season syndrome after safely negotiating their first year in Senior.

Group 4 sees a tight group per the rankings. Knockavilla squeezed through the relegation battle in 2016 with 2 draws and a win. Lorrha lost all 3 games last year in Roinn 1 before suffering a 16 point loss in the North Championship. The biggest noise surrounding these rankings last year was the low ranking of Lorrha so maybe we should expect them to be the team to beat in this group despite their current ranking.

Group 1 sees Newport step up to the Senior rankings in what looks like a tough group. Toomevara won one game in 2016, which came against a relegated team, and will need to dig deep to climb back to their yester-years in Roinn 1. Roscrea fell from Roinn 1 last year despite not being outplayed in 2 of their group games. They will be looking to 2015 form which saw them win their Roinn 2 group. Ballingarry lost by 17 points to Tommevara in 2015 but showed consistent performances last year in matches against Roinn 1 teams in the South Championship so they may make this an extremely competitive group.

Group 2 includes Silvermines who avoided relegation last year after losing all 3 Roinn 2 group games. Templederry look to be the strong team in this group. They pushed county finalists Kiladangan to 4 points last year in Roinn 1 and followed this up by beating 5th-ranked Nenagh Eire Og in the North Championship.  Moycarkey beat Kiladangan in 2015 but fell from a tough Roinn 1 group and did not find enough to jump back up in 2016. They ended the year with a heavy defeat to Loughmore but may be the dark horse of this group.



This preview is written based purely on results in prior years. Any discussion or input from Tipp fans is more than welcome!

Smarter Analysis Sharing – Don’t get left behind

After reading the interesting Irish Digital Consumer Report 2017, I found myself unsurprised by the vast majority of numbers mentioned. What is needed as a performance/video analyst is to use these numbers to ensure analysis access is easy for the modern day player.

Some basic numbers from the aforementioned report and the Ipsos MRBI recent data show:

  • 88% of Irish people aged 16-64 own a smartphone.
  • 61% of online video viewers prefer to watch short content (< 5 minutes) on their smartphones.
  • WhatsApp is owned by 55% of the Irish population, increasing from 36% in 2014.

I’m 34 (ahem, a young 34) and my generation is familiar with emails, web links and web browsers but the introduction of smartphones has obliterated these skills for the younger generation. Apps are king and the under 25’s are vastly more adept at using and accessing apps over the traditional website. This impacts greatly on how we can share analysis to squads and managers.

Getting the key information to the player is a major aspect of sports analysis. The method of distribution can be a make or break for any team management. Modern day players have less access to a desktop PC, their smartphone is their life, tapping into their day-to-day smartphone usage breaks down any barrier. Analysts need to consider this when building an analysis set-up. Managers need to know how to get the key messages across to players.

Using Websites and E-mails to share information to players will limit your reach in the coming years. Whatsapp is an extremely common approach by most managers to contact team players, but it isn’t the only option. There are other apps that may be utilised in future years….


  • 84% of 15-18 year olds have a Snapchat account.
  • 85% of these use it daily.

Snapchat is currently the app of choice for under 25’s for quick messaging. Smartphones can now take, send and view images in seconds. Can a GAA analyst utilise this app to share video analysis? I currently follow American Football analyst Daniel Jeremiah (@movethesticks) on Snapchat and he produces excellent analysis snaps every week to review football performances. Snapchat allows you to easily add highlighting lines and text to any clip or image.


Instagram has now a 25% user level in Ireland, but more importantly:

  • 68% of 15-18 year olds have an Instagram account.

Snapchat is king at quick, short images/videos sharing but Instagram is built on it’s the ability to share high quality images and videos online – an analysts dream. Instagram allows private membership so “followers” must request access to your images/videos – thus restricting access to team members. It stores your images and videos unlike Snapchat (which deletes clips/images once seen) for playback. It is an excellent tool.

Just look at how the NFL shares clips on Instagram

@dangerusswilson’s escapability: ???. ? #DETvsSEA #tbt

A video posted by NFL (@nfl) on

A high quailty clip with 500k views.


Snapchat and Instagram must become serious options for analysts to distribute analysis to players in the coming years. Smartphone apps are already giving us tools to impact the players. Just look at this image of the Argentina dressing room from last summer…

Apps are free to utilise, need no training up for players and no password restricted access. They offer instant access to the key target market – the players. Using these tools can bridge a gap between generations.


The Cody Era – The Numbers – Part 2

This is a continuation of my look into the 18 season management of Kilkenny by the legend that is Brian Cody.

You can read about his most capped players and his love for substituting the brave corner forwards in Part 1 HERE

The Importance of Michael Fennelly

Next I thought I’d look at what the Americans called the “winningest” players under Cody. Hurlers with the highest Win Rate in the past 18 season (League & Championship).


From this table you can see that the loss of Michael Fennelly to Kilkenny for this years All Ireland Final was substantial. He is the “winningest” player under Cody at an incredible 86% win rate. The only hurler currently active to make the Top 20. Joey Holden at 21st is the next highest ranked active hurler.

Cody’s trusted selectors James McGarry and Derek Lyng both make the list, showing Cody knows his winners well. It is incredible to see that Kavanagh, Shefflin & Brennan had an 80% win rate over 100+ games played.

Winter Plodders vs Summer Hurlers

Much like the horse racing season there is a time for your tough plodding stayers in the mud of winter and there is a time for your thoroughbred stars in the glorious sun of the summer.

Cody’s selection is no different. I took the list of hurlers with more than 30 appearances under Cody and compared how many league games they played compared to their championship appearances.

During Cody’s era he has led Kilkenny into 130 NHL matches and 84 Championship games. The average split of League to Championship is around 60:40.

Just as a quick example the table below shows the average and the two extremes. Willie O Dwyer was a League man for Cody, making 70% of his appearances in the league. On the other hand it is King Henry who was brought out when the sun shone and the big shiny cup was there to be won. Shefflin played 56% of his games in the Championship.


The full list of splits for hurlers with more than 30 appearances is shown below. Eoin Larkin, DJ Carey and Cillian Buckley are the three alongside Shefflin who have appeared in more Championship matches than league matches.


Canice Hickey (Dunnamaggin) and Michael Grace (Rower/Inistioge) both played 12 NHL games without a SHC appearance.


Club Preference

Below is a table of the Number of Appearances made by each club under Cody’s reign.


Unsurprisingly Ballyhale Shamrocks (Shefflin, Reids, Fennellys) and James Stephens (incl. Tyrell & Larkin) have topped the table with the most selections. the list shows how exhaustive a search Cody has made with 30 clubs providing players.

(I have tried to find the right club for each player  (searching yearbooks and websites) so if any club feels under-represented please let me know.)


Players Per Club

Below is the table showing how many players from each club were picked by Cody in 18 seasons.


Kilkenny have failed to field a James Stephens hurler on only 6 occasions in 214 of Cody’s matches and on 4 of those occasions, in early 2005, James Stephens were contesting the All Ireland Club Championship! From the period 26 Feb 2006 to 30 March 2014 (99 Games, over 8 years) Kilkenny had a James Stephens man selected in every match.

Ballyhale have had a representative in 194 of the 214 matches.

Only three clubs – James Stephens, Ballyhale Shamrocks & O Loughlin Gaels have had a representative in the Kilkenny colours in all 18 seasons. 2016 was the first season Dunnamaggin had no representative.

Possibly More to Come?

I will aim to delve further into the numbers, if I find any more worthwhile info I may squeeze a third post.