Next Man Up : Senior Hurling 2015-16

Do you think your county is in a period of transition? Do you think your manager has stuck to the same players year-in year-out?

Over a two season period how many individual players do you think have lined out for you county’s senior hurlers in the Championship?

Looking at the numbers of different players used over the past 2 championships we can see if a county team has been settled or whether it is has seen a major overhaul.

Two measures of change/transition would be:

  1. See how many different hurlers a county has used over the previous 2 Championships
  2. See how many of the same hurlers started the first game 2015 championship and also started in their team’s final game of 2016.

Hurlers Used Over Two Seasons

The table below shows the number of different hurlers that each county has used over the previous two Championships:


We can see that the highest number used was 35, by Dublin,  whereas Waterford only used 24 despite playing one game more than Dublin over the same period. An interesting statistic taken from the table is that the four Provincial Finalists & All Ireland Semi Finalists for both seasons (Tipperary, Kilkenny, Waterford & Galway) used an average number of 27 hurlers, whereas the other eight teams used an average of nearly 32 hurlers. Could it be said that success brings less change? Or does cohesion lead to success (as per Ben Darwin of The Gain Line)?

New Season..New First Fifteen?

This table shows the number of hurlers who started their counties first championship match of 2015 and also started their counties last match of 2016:end-16-start-15

From this we can see that Laois had a huge overhaul in the space of 14 months with only 6 players from the team that started against Offaly in 2015 picked to start against Clare in 2016. That’s a 60% change in personnel, showing how difficult a year it was for Cheddar Plunkett.

Dublin In Transition

Taking those two tables as a measure of transition we can see that Dublin, under Ger Cunningham, have had a dramatic change to their panel. 35 different players used in 2 seasons, and only 7 players from his first game against Galway in Croke Park in 2015 survived to play in Pairc Ui Rinn in their loss to Cork. Cunningham used 29 hurlers in his first season alone, more than 4 counties have used in the two season.

Although Wexford used 34 players over the 2 seasons they still had 10 players starting against Westmeath in 2015 that were again named by Liam Dunne to start against Waterford in 2016. Wexford would appear to have kept a core group of players together but have had to try various hurlers to mix with this core, their 2016 injury crisis must be taken as a factor for their high number of hurlers used. .

Waterford Keeping It Tight

Waterford have kept an extremely tight panel in the past two years. Only using 24 hurlers along with keeping with the 12 starters from their win against Cork in 2015 up to their replay defeat to Kilkenny this August. Waterford have picked a very cohesive structure with only Conor Gleeson made the breakthrough into the Waterford defence/midfield in the past 12 months. Derek McGrath used only 21 hurlers in 2016, the lowest of any team in either season despite playing 5 games, including back to back weeks against Kilkenny.

New Manager, New Team?

Some panels may expect huge changes when a new manager arrives in. A clear-out is sometimes expected or a new set of eyes at the talent in the county. Is this reflected in the panel turnover of the team changes from 2015/2016?

Well in a word…..No. Teams with new managers in 2016 kept 9 of the team that had played the first game of the previous season in their team. Teams that kept their managers had almost an identical average of 9.1 players used from the start of one season to the end of the next season.

Counties who kept the same manager for the two season used an average of 30.3 players throughout the two campaigns, while counties with two different managers in the two seasons used an average of 30 players. Michael Donoghue in Galway used 22 of the 26 players his predecessor Anthony Cunningham had played in 2015.