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.

Finally

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…..

Selections

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.

 

Notes

All numbers and information has been taken from our trusty newspapers and the42.ie. Any changes or emails from Podge Collins to lower John McGrath’s score is more than welcome!

 

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: