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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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!

 

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.

 

Notes:

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

Final Tipperary Senior Hurling Rankings 2016

Following the dominant Thurles Sarsfields three-in-a-row win in yesterdays county final I have updated my rankings for the final time in 2016.

screenshot-2016-10-17-06-47-00

The rankings show clear gaps between Thurles and the rest. On the other end of the rankings 2 of the bottom 3 ranked teams, Moyne-Templetuohy and Moneygall, have dropped to Intermediate.

In the divisional rankings we can see that following those relegations the Mid and North championships have both lost their lowest ranked teams. It may be a temporary reduction in number for the North as Newport (North) are now in the Intermediate County Final, looking to gain promotion.

screenshot-2016-10-17-06-40-40

The final list of biggest movers has seen Thurles Sarsfields jump into the top 5. Their impressive clear win of the county final against the second rank team placed them onto the list of most improved teams.

screenshot-2016-10-17-06-40-53

Silvermines secured their safety in Senior hurling despite the largest drop in ranking points of any club this year. All five of the biggest fallers in 2016 came from the North division.

Tipperary Senior Hurling Rankings- Post Semi Finals & Feedback Adjustments

I have received feedback from last weeks post of ELO ratings of team. The input from Tipperary fans has helped me adjust the weighting of the matches in my ranking formula. Below are my adjusted rankings which include the 2 semi-finals and the 2 relegation play offs.

tipp-shc-rankings-161010

The new weightings has seen some movements up and down the table. I have added greater initial weight ot the Roinn 1 teams as they entered 2014. I have also reduced the weight of Roinn 1 wins over Roinn 2 wins and increased the Divisional results weighting. The current ranking system was correct in predicting 63% this years results.

The rankings expect a tight county final.

On the bottom of the list we can see already-relegated Moneygall are propping up the 30. The current rankings expect Moyne-Templetuohy to join them with Silvermines and Knockavilla surviving.

All feedback is 100% welcome.

Tipperary Senior Hurling Rankings

I have been looking to use ELO methods to rank teams in club hurling in various counties. ELO rating of teams can be seen online in various sports (Football, GAArankings.net, Gaelic Football) and ELO is most popular as the ranking method of Chess players.

The formula to calculate team ranking is based on various factors

  1. Team rankings before the match,
  2. The result and
  3. The importance of the match.

I have been tinkering around with my formula and have a ranking system in place for the Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship.

Why Tipperary you may ask?

Well a senior championship that has 30 teams, uses 2 group divisions mixed with 4 geographical divisions before leading to a knockout tournament is surely the craziest club competition to rank in hurling.

Using results for the past 3 seasons and 300 matches, the rankings currently show:

tipp-30-rank

Thurles Sarsfields lead the way as they look to “three-peat” by winning a third consecutive county title. The rankings show semi-finalists Kildangan as their closest opposition with Clonoulty-Rossmore and Killenaule further behind.

2016 Biggest Movers

Looking at the changes in ranking points in 2016 we can see which clubs have moved the most in 2016. Thurles have remained on top but who has gained the most points this year:

top-5-rising

Clonoulty Rossmore have jumped up the rankings this year. Their success in overthrowing Eire Og Annacarty in the West and then a super Quarter-Final win against Mullinahone saw them jump into 3rd place in the rankings.

Kildangan have also moved up with a huge win over Drom & Inch last week, a team they had lost by 10 points to last year.

Borris-Ileigh also improved, they exited the 2015 Championship in May of 2015 but this year saw them reach the quarters.

On the other side of the rankings we can see the biggest fallers:

top-5-falling

Nenagh Eire Og went on a huge run in 2015 from the Preliminary Quarters to lose last years final by a point to Thurles. This year saw them exit the championship early.

JK Brackens suffered 3 defeats of 16, 14 and 13 points but have ended the year safe at Senior level for 2016, dropping to Roinn 2. Moneygall and Silvermines will battle against relegation next week.

Divisional Ranks

As Tipperary likes to stick to divisional rankings which are part of the Championship you might be interested to see the rankings by Division:

div-rank

The North Division of Senior hurling in Tipperary is larger than Senior hurling in Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Westmeath, Laois, Limerick  & Offaly!

 

Note:

To create these rankings you have to weigh various stages of the championship. This article may stir some interest from club fans who disagree with some ranks. Please let me know where the rankings may be out as the weighting system is constantly evolving.