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).

winners

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.

nhl-to-shc-split

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.

nhl-split

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.

apps-by-club

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.

hurlers-by-club

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.

We need to talk about Work Rate

GAA is obsessed with Work Rate. It is probably the single greatest point raised by coaches, pundits and fans when assessing a team’s performance. How often are we told that the winning team had incredible “Work Rate”, how many dressing rooms have been told to “up their Work Rate”?

But what do we mean? What is Work Rate?

As a hurling man I know it is usually based on the holy trinity of Hooks, Blocks and Tackles (I’m sure teams may add in rucks won, etc). Without these three fundamental principles a team cannot win. I don’t disagree with this principle, in theory.

What I do think we need to talk about is: using a straight count of Hooks, Blocks & Tackles as a measure of Work Rate.

How do we assess a rugby performance – Tackles Made? No.
When Ireland recently beat Canada 52 to 21, Ireland made 101 tackles, Canada made 172. Is this a reflection that Canada showed a much higher work rate?

The top three tacklers in the Premier League at the moment – 1. Burnley, 2. Hull, 3. Middlesbrough. Are these teams showing more “Work Rate” than the others?

My opinion, based on analysis done on dozens of hurling games, is that:
We need to focus more on the logic behind “Work Rate”

My Logic

  • You can only tackle the opposition player when he has possession
  • If one team has more possession of the ball then there are more opportunities to tackle them.

For example – Tipperary play Kilkenny in the 2017 NHL.

  • Tipperary have 20 Hooks, Blocks and Tackles
  • Kilkenny have 40 Hooks, Blocks and Tackles

Kilkenny have shown the higher work rate? My argument is that this simple measure is flawed.

Say Kilkenny had 100 possessions of the ball and Tipperary had 200 possessions of the ball – are we still of the same opinion?

Kilkenny had made 40 hooks, blocks and tackles on Tipperary’s 200 possessions – i.e. Tipperary have been tackled for every 5 possessions they held (200/40).

Tipperary meanwhile have had made 20 hooks, blocks and tackles on Kilkenny’s 100 possessions – i.e Kilkenny have been tackled for every 5 possessions they held (100/20).

So both teams have tackled each other for every 5 possessions the other team had. Equal “Work Rate”. Not simply Hooks/Blocks/Tackles showing 40 v 20 as most basic statistics will show.

 

A Better Measure of Work Rate

Work already printed by Colin Trainor in Statsbomb has created a measure to show that the quantity of tackles made by a team can only be relevant to the passes of the opposition – his measure PPDA is calculated by:

PPDA = Number of Passes made by Attacking Team / Number of Defensive Actions

We can amend this formula to meet the differences in style between hurling and soccer. A defensive action in hurling would obviously be – Hooks, Blocks and Tackles. Number of Passes in hurling is not a major factor, possession of the sliotar would be an arguably equivalent measure.

Hurling PPDA = Number of Possessions by Attacking team / Number of Defensive Actions

or

Possessions of Team A / (Hooks + Blocks + Tackles by Team B)

This, for me, is a basic starting point in calculating “Work Rate”.

This is not an ideal complete measure, but telling a team it “allowed 4 possessions for every tackle” is more relevant than telling they made 5 hooks. It is a measure that can be compared to any other match.

 

Optional Improvement – Add in Location

Based on the Hurling PPDA two measures should be recorded post-match:
1. Possessions by Location
2. Hooks/Blocks/Tackles

With one extra note of detail when collecting the measure we can have a much more incisive measure, if we also note the location of both counts then we have an even better measure.

We can now split the pitch into say three segments for location:

pitch-zones

Now when we calculate the Work Rate we can refine it to cover the 3 areas of the pitch. This can tell us, for example, how much pressure our forwards applied inside their 45:
Opposition Possessions in Area 3/ Our Hooks, Blocks,Tackles in Area 3

Training can be made to focus on real areas of weakness based on this measure.

 

Optional Improvement – Add in Time

Noting the time of each possession and hook/block/tackle can allow us to further understand if our team dropped their “Work Rate” over a certain period of the match – (Personally I have broken the match into 6 equal time segments with 12 minutes each taking injury time into account). Does the Hurling PPDA drop for the last time segment? Does the team maintain an average Hurling PPDA throughout the 6 time segments, are we consistent?

 

Conclusion

This post was written to try and open a debate on how we calculate the obsessive term “Work Rate”. It’s a very basic and simple idea but it is aimed at opening a discussion. I could only cover so much detail in one post. Other elements such as the quality of tackle and effect of tackle which can be weighted in the calculation.

I would love some responses from analysts or hurlers about their experience of the “Work Rate” obsession.

I understand that a coaches intention is to get his team to increase their tackling numbers so that they battle harder but I can only imagine that player must find it hard to listen to a tackle number being low when they have been in control of the sliotar.

 

 

Tony Kelly’s performance against Glen Rovers

Tony Kelly played a major role in Ballyea’s Muster success. His legend continues to grow at the age of 23! I thought I’d have a look at his performance in detail.

Shooting

Kelly scored 5 points from play against Glen Rovers. A huge score for the average hurler from play but just another Semple Stadium performance for Kelly. I have mapped his shots below:

tony-kelly-shooting

Looking at the shot map you can see Kelly will not be happy with his distance shooting. His scores came from possession collected between midfield and the 45, where he ran at the Glen Rovers attack like the score below:

Source – GAA Beo TG4

Possessions

Sometimes it feels like when you watch a match with Kelly that he is everywhere and Sunday certainly felt like that. Kelly played in midfield and covered a huge amount of ground. The pitch below shows each time in the match where he received initial possession on the field.

tony-kelly-possessions

You can clearly see that Kelly covered both sides of midfield but also played a huge role in defence. He picked up the ball 9 times deep inside his own 65. Kelly rarely ventured into the opposition 45 looking for ball as you can see from his single possession inside the Glen Rovers 45, his role was grounded in covering midfield and defence.

It also should be noted his 20 possessions came despite having few Glen Rover’s puckouts sent in his direction.

Effectiveness

Possessions are a meaningless statistic unless you look deeper into how effectively someone used the sliotar.

tony-kelly-numbers

The numbers above show that Kelly’s 20 possessions led to 10 shots for Ballyea – 8 from Kelly and 2 scoring assists. With Kelly’s 5 points and 2 scoring assists he had a direct contribution to 7 of Ballyea’s 22 scores. This was a very effective performance by Tony Kelly.

Tekkers

Finally the important side – the tekkers. What was most exciting of all was the skills shown by Kelly on one of the biggest stages in hurling. Who says November is a tough time to hurl…

Source – GAA Beo TG4

I think I’ll leave the final say on Kelly’s performance to Austin Gleeson:

 


 

O Loughlin Gaels dethrone Oulart-The Ballagh

Wexford Park saw a re-enactment of the film Cocoon as Martin Comerford showed us that 38 is the new 23. Taking fearless shots and scoring points Tony Kelly would have been proud of.

The final score showed O Loughlin Gaels ran away with this match by a score of 3-17 to 0-17 but there were some key reasons for this victory.

Key Reason 1 : 12 Minutes of Gael’s Dominance

Once the match resumed in the second half, Oulart pulled 2 points back and it seemed we were due a dogfight to the finish between two serious outfits. But a 12 minute period saw the match blown apart.

The scoring timeline below shows the period where O Loughlin Gaels took control:

scoring-timeline

From the 36th minute to the 48th minute O Loughlin Gaels scored 1-7 without reply. In this period Kilkenny men took 11 shots to Oulart’s 1.

O Loughlin Gaels shooting standards were excellent in this period.olg-shooting-36-to-47

Paddy Deegan’s monster left-sided points were followed by Martin Comerford’s exquisite point from the right sideline. These took the match away from Oulart.

(Video Source – TG4 – GAA Beo)

O Loughlin Gaels showed their ruthless side and hit Oulart hard when they were reeling.

Key Reason 2: Oulart’s Lack of Bite

Another key reason for the result was Oulart’s lack of goal-scoring chances. This website has mentioned previously that the only 2 occasions when Oulart lost in Wexford over the past 6 seasons has been when they failed to score a goal. Apart from the last 10 minutes scramble for a goal Oulart failed to create any goal chances. The scoring chart below shows that Oulart had no shots inside the red-zone.

oulart-shooting-1st-50-mins

In total Oulart scored 17 points from 25 shots. A very high scoring rate. But given their own errors, mentioned below, they gave themselves a deficit that needed them to score goals to have any chance of winning.

Huge credit must be given to the O Loughlin Gaels back 6 as few clubs have managed to handle the movement of Kirwan, Mythen and Jacob mixed with the strength and skill of Sinnott. It is a rare sight to see Oulart fail to open up the full back line, but they never looked dangerous against the Kilkenny backs.

Key Reason 3: Oulart’s Mistakes

At two key points in the game Oulart gave O Loughlin Gaels huge initiative. It is hard to focus on two errors from a team that has proven themselves on too many big days, but a review of the game cannot be complete without covering the two mistakes.

In the 19th minute a Mark Bergin shot from 65m dropped into the net past goalkeeper Conor O Leary, which gave O Loughlin Gaels a huge jump back into a match they had been trailing by 0-9 to 1-1.

In the most bizarre moment of the match, at the 37 minute mark, Sammy Johnston capitalised on an overshot handpass by Anthony Roche that ran straight through to the Kilkenny forward 35 metres from goal. When Johnston collected the ball there were no Oulart defenders between him and the Oulart keeper. He ran through and buried his chance, which opened the door for the Gaels avalanche of scoring.

(Video Source – TG4 – GAA Beo)

Where to Next?

O Loughlin Gaels head on to play Cuala of Dublin in the Leinster Final. Cuala have a very strong contingent with 9 Dublin hurlers in their first XV along with Con O Callaghan an under 21 footballer with the county who scored 1-3 in the semi final. A tough battle lies ahead but O Loughlin Gaels have now beaten the past 2 Leinster champions (Ballyhale Shamrocks and Oulart-The Ballagh) in back-to-back games so they should have no doubts over their ability to win Leinster.

 

 

 

The Cody Era – The Numbers – Part 1

You can now see Part 2 HERE!

Brian Cody’s recent announcement to stay on for his 19th season in 2017, made many a Wexford man shudder. He has to lose heart and pack it in someday…he has to!

After I’d shed a few quiet tears I thought I’d look at the numbers behind his reign as the greatest hurling manager.

Cody’s Main Men

In Brian Cody’s 214 League and Championship games over the past 18 seasons he has seen 144 hurlers from 30 clubs play for Kilkenny. Some have been given the chance to impress in an early February league opener, others have taken their chance and led the Cats into battle season after season.

Below is the table of the 20 most capped players during the 18 seasons.

codys-generals

In that list we see some of the greatest hurlers to have picked up a hurl. Jackie Tyrell’s recent retirement saw the 4th most capped player leave the stage. Eoin Larkin, a fellow Village man, now leads the list of most capped active players.

Incredibly 2014 saw the retirement of 5 of the top 11 most capped hurlers that Cody had used. The All Ireland Final Replay of 2014 had 17 players carrying an average of 60 NHL & SHC appearances each, Kilkenny’s next match in the 2015 league opener fielded a team with an average of 29 NHL & SHC appearances each – the squad experience was halved in one winter. Despite this huge loss Kilkenny drove on to win the 2015 All Ireland, surely one of Cody’s greatest achievements.

Cody’s Top 15 by Jersey

The team below is based on the most times any player wore an individual jersey over the past 18 League and Championship seasons.

most-capped-15

Not a bad team. Martin Comerford has an equal number of appearances in the number 10 jersey as Walter Walsh but we can’t have ‘Gorta’ taking 2 spots on the XV.

One thing noticeable from looking through the selection history is that Cody constantly rotates players through his team. Henry Shefflin wore the number 11 in only 36 of his 128 appearances. Eddie Brennan wore the number 13 in only 31 of his 113 appearances. Settling into a jersey seems to be discouraged.

Cody also gives players try-out in multiple positions, Tommy Walsh wore 9 different numbers on his back, DJ Carey and Cha Fitzpatrick wore 8 different numbers, Richie Hogan also has had 8 different jerseys to date. Many of the players Cody has brought through have been moved from Forward to Midfield to Back (e.g. Cillian Buckley, Tommy Walsh, Padraig Walsh). Players are given opportunities until they find a place they can excel in.

Beware the dreaded 13

I named this website after my favourite hurling tactic, the removal of the corner forward, every GAA managers first call to action when the game needs a change. Well….Brian Cody certainly knows best……

subbed

As you can see from the table above the poor auld corner forwards (13 & 15) have been the most likely players to be subbed by Cody. The two most subbed players in his reign? Eddie Brennan (30 times) and Aidan Fogarty (29)!

Beware being handed the number 13 jersey for Kilkenny…..

Keep Pearse Stadium out of Leinster

The real reason why Galway can’t play at home in the Leinster Championship?

Brian Cody’s record in Galway : Played 7 Won 2 Lost 5

Galway has been where Cody has had his worst record as a manager.

venue

Surely Ned Quinn and his county men don’t fear crossing the Shannon?

The only other major ground where Kilkenny have a losing record under Cody is Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Cody has beaten 8 different teams in Semple Stadium and 10 different teams in Croke Park.

More to come…..

I will be posting a few more articles on Codys reign in the next week so stay tuned.