Saturday 23 February 2019

Crunching the numbers behind Dublin's League

How the champions' stats stack up

Hand to hand: Galway’s Ciarán Duggan (left) in action against Dublin’s Brian Howard during last Sunday’s Allianz FL Division 1 final at Croke Park
Hand to hand: Galway’s Ciarán Duggan (left) in action against Dublin’s Brian Howard during last Sunday’s Allianz FL Division 1 final at Croke Park

0 The number of minutes Paul Flynn and Jack McCaffrey played in this year's league, the only members of last year's All-Ireland winning panel - other than the retired Denis Bastick - not to sample any spring action.

1 John Small was the only player to start all eight of Dublin's league matches.

Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh Macauley, Davy Byrne, Dean Rock and Colm Basquel also appeared in every one in some capacity.

Fenton, Macauley, Byrne and Rock began seven and came on as subs in one each while Basquel started four and appeared off the bench in four.

2 Black cards issued to Dublin players this spring. Small got one against Kerry while Dean Rock was shown one in Salthill.

John Small was the only Dublin player to start every league match
John Small was the only Dublin player to start every league match

4 Goal chances created by Bernard Brogan in Dublin's league opener against Kildare in February, just a week before tearing his cruciate ligament.

The 2010 Footballer of the Year, who has set an ambitious target getting back in time for the back end of this year's championship, turned 34 yesterday.

5 Dublin sendings off. Mick Fitzsimons (Mayo) and Eoghan O'Gara (Galway) went for straight reds, the former angering Jim Gavin when the CHC failed to overturn the one-match ban.

Niall Scully (Tyrone and the League final) and Philly McMahon (Monaghan) walked for double yellows.

6 Players who made their league debuts this spring, namely Evan Comerford, Brian Howard, Andrew McGowan, Eoin Murchan, Cillian O'Shea, Paddy Small.

8 Days between Con O'Callaghan capturing his latest All-Ireland title with Cuala and making his seasonal return for Dublin on Sunday as a substitute in the final.

His surprise appearance in the number 15 jersey in which Paddy Andrews had been named was just his second league game for Dublin, having coming on for the last minutes against Kerry in February 2016.

12 The unbeaten run Dublin embarked upon after losing last April's league final to Kerry before losing to Monaghan in Croke Park two Sundays back.

15 This represents the total number of minutes (plus a couple more in injury-time) Brian Howard had played for the Dublin seniors prior to the commencement of this year's league campaign, two late point-scoring cameos in last year's Leinster semi-final win over Westmeath and the provincial decider against Kildare.

Howard decided against going on the team holiday to South Africa in January and instead played in the O'Byrne Cup. He also opted out of DIT's Sigerson Cup quarter-final against Tralee IT in favour of focusing on his preparations for Dublin's looming league match with Donegal - although he did play for his college in their semi-final loss to NUIG.

His dedication was rewarded, with Howard starting seven of Dublin's eight matches and scoring 0-5.

16 Is the number of league, Leinster and All-Ireland competitions Jim Gavin has managed Dublin in since taking over as manager from Pat Gilroy in October 2012.

Remarkably, they have won 14, with only the 2014 All-Ireland SFC (lost semi-final to Donegal) and last year's league (lost final to Kerry) eluding Gavin in that time.

19/14 Dublin's average scoring/concession rates in this year's competition, or to be more precise - 18.6 and 14.1.

For comparison purposes they tallied averages of 19, 20, 17, 19 and in the five previous competitions under Gavin while the mean number of scores conceded was - in order of oldest campaign to most recent - 14, 17, 12, 13 and 13.

Those averages are based on nine-game campaigns from 2013 to 2016 and eight matches both last year and this.

21 This represents the total number of Dublin players to register a score in this year's league campaign, ranging from Dean Rock's 1-32 to the single point scored each by Davy Byrne, James McCarthy, Bernard Brogan, Ciarán Reddin and Conor McHugh (free).

26 The total minutes Diarmuid Connolly spent on the pitch for Dublin this spring, a single second half cameo against Mayo in Castlebar in February.

"Rested," before and afterwards according to Jim Gavin, who insisted that it was a "decision that was made in his (Diarmuid's) best interests".

28 The string of unbroken league and championship appearances Stephen Cluxton made between April 2016, when Michael Savage played in goals against Roscommon in the last match of that Division 1 campaign, and March 18, when Evan Comerford started against Galway in Salthill.

34 Players used by Gavin in this year's NFL competition, the most fleeting of whom being Connolly and Cillian O'Shea, who both made single appearances as subs.

45 The total wides kicked by Dublin across eight games, averaging just 5.6 per match in a remarkably efficient spring.

They had just two wides against Tyrone in Omagh, three last Sunday in Croke Park and four in the Monaghan game.

80 Ciarán Kilkenny's percentage conversion rate in this year's League.

He scored 2-18 from 25 shots across the seven games he played in and pips Damien Comer and Brian Fenton if there was a 'Player of the League' award.

Notably, he popped up occasionally at full-forward - the spot where he made his name as a prolific underage player - and his goals against Tyrone and Kerry were just the second and third of his Dublin career.

100 Cluxton became the first league centurion when he lined out against Mayo in Castlebar on February 24. His record now stands at 102.

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