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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019
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Dublin v Mayo stats: Why Cluxton v Clarke is just as important as Fenton v O'Shea

We break down the key statistical points from Dublin and Mayo’s road to Croke Park.

O'Connor, Keegan and Connolly: three men who will be crucial in deciding the latest installment of Dublin v Mayo.
O'Connor, Keegan and Connolly: three men who will be crucial in deciding the latest installment of Dublin v Mayo.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

GONE ARE THE days of the Cork and Meath battles of the 1980s and the grip Tyrone had over Kerry in the 2000s. In recent years, a new rivalry has emerged and on Sunday afternoon at 3.30pm, attention will turn to the battle that will ensue at GAA HQ between Dublin and Mayo.

Sunday will be the 13th meeting of these sides in championship football since their first in 1906 with Dublin having the upper hand over the last 110 years. They have drawn three times with Dublin recording seven wins and Mayo being victorious on only two occasions, most recently in 2012 and most famously in 2006 when Mickey Moran’s men upset the odds and the Dublin faithful by firstly warming up in front of the Hill and then beating Pillar Caffrey’s Dublin by a single point.

Source: Mike Gallagher/YouTube

However times are different now. Dublin have been the form team since capturing their first All-Ireland in 16 years back in 2011 and since Jim Gavin took the reins of the footballing machine that is the Dublin senior footballers, they have been unstoppable. With 23 championship games under his belt, Gavin has drawn one, lost one and claimed a remarkable 21 wins. This year they have already seen off Laois, Meath and Westmeath in Leinster before Donegal and Kerry in the quarter- and semi-final stages respectively.

Mayo on the other hand have played two games more than Sunday’s opposition as they came the scenic route this year. After comprehensively beating London in May, they lost out to Galway in the semi-final to miss out on Connacht final day for the first time in five years. Stephen Rochford’s men regrouped however, and with qualifier wins over Fermanagh, Kildare and Westmeath, they reached Croke Park once again to see off Tyrone by a point and then the new kids on the block, Tipperary.

With the anticipation to throw in on Sunday afternoon building by the second, what will be the deciding factors as to whether Sam will stay in the capital for another year, or make its way to Mayo for the first time since 1951?

Scoring

In their five championship matches to date, Dublin have raised 98 white flags while finding the net five times. An impressive 5-60 of that tally was from play with the remaining 0-38 from placed balls. That’s 4.41 scores for every 10 possessions the Dubs have obtained.

Aidan O'Shea scores a goal Aidan O'Shea was on the mark against Westmeath. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Mayo on the other hand have totalled 11-100 in their seven encounters with 9-68 coming from open play and 2-32 being scored from the placed ball (3.47 scores every 10 possessions). It is clear to all that both sides have put up some impressive scores this year but the crucial point for Sunday’s meeting is the restart.

Kicking kings

The modern game has placed such an importance on the kickout that it has become a focal point of a team’s set-up resulting in Stephen Cluxton versus David Clarke being just as important as Brian Fenton versus Seamus O’Shea in midfield.

91% of Cluxton’s kickouts have been won by a man in blue this year. Gone are the days where the Dublin number one would launch high ball down the middle to the towering Ciarán Whelan who would have Shane Ryan beneath his shadow ready for the break. He has now utilised his corner backs, Philly McMahon and David Byrne, in order to provide a platform for building attacks with 78% of his kickouts being played short.

Stephen Cluxton Cluxton: Dublin have won 91% of his kickouts. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Clarke has had 81% of his kickouts won by a Mayo man with only 64% of them being played short. With the two O’Sheas as well as Tom Parsons in and around the middle third for Mayo, Clarke may ditch the short ball in order to find a man further up the pitch, therefore relieving the pressure on the back six.

Needless to say that the kickout will prove to be a vital aspect of Sunday’s encounter on deciding who will be walking up the steps of the Hogan Stand come 5.30pm.

Possession

As alluded to above, possession will also be a key factor in this year’s All-Ireland Final. Both sides are physical, powerful teams that cover the ground with high intensity and speed incorporated into their respective games.

In the same manner as the kickout is of high importance, possession is paramount in the game, which two players in particular know all too well. Castleknock clubman Ciarán Kilkenny boasts the highest number of possessions for Dublin this year with 225 while Mayo’s Lee Keegan, one of the country’s most undervalued players, has obtained possession 186 times. Their roles on the pitch may differ but both are key players for Sunday’s battle.

Turnovers and transitions

Turning defence into attack is another area of importance that the majority of intercounty teams focus on. John Small and Kevin McManamon have bolstered the Dublin turnover rate with three apiece of a total of 25 throughout the championship while Mayo’s standout man is Aidan O’Shea with 10 of the team’s total of 35 turnovers.

As seen in the semi-final clash between Dublin and Kerry when McManamon levelled Peter Crowley in the dying seconds to turn over possession, there is a fine line between what defines a foul and a fair shoulder nowadays. Dublin have only conceded 75 frees this championship campaign while Mayo have fouled opposition on 149 separate occasions. Dublin will be cautious of Cillian O’Connor’s keen eye for the dead ball but with the form Dean Rock has been in this year, scoring 9.6 points per game, the men in green and red will be wary of the threat he possesses.

Cillian O'Connor Cillian O'Connor: Mayo's most accurate shooter this summer. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Other stats that make for interesting reading ahead of Sunday’s decider include the fact that Dean Rock is the sharpest shooter on the Dublin side with a shot accuracy of 87% while his closest Mayo competitor is Cillian O’Connor with 63%. Regarding interceptions, Mayo (62) almost double Dublin’s total of 36 so will look to pick up any loose ball that may come their way.

So the stage is set for the biggest day in the GAA calendar. It’ll either be Cluxton or O’Connor uttering the immortal words of “Tá áthas an domhain orm” come Sunday evening.

Will it be back-to-back titles for the country’s most unparalleled set of players or has the time for the bridesmaid of recent years finally come?

– Statistics taken from Sure’s Season of Statistics report. Sure are the official statistics partner of the GAA.

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About the author:

Seán O'Regan

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