Advertisement

Analysis: How successful has the short puck-out been in the 2022 championship?

Hurling analyst and coach Sean Flynn breaks down every short puck-out from the campaign so far.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE FIRST HALF of Limerick and Galway’s All Ireland semi-final on Sunday encapsulated hurling’s typical short puck-out battles. 

There have been 33 games played in this year’s championship to date and there have been 899 short restarts, an average of 27 per game.

Sunday’s first half had 23 short restarts and while the Tribesmen held their own, Limerick punished Galway on the scoreboard in the short puck-out battle.

John Kiely’s men scored 0-3 and had zero wides from their own short puck-out with Galway scoring three points and hitting three wides from Eanna Murphy’s. 

eanna-murphy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Limerick also scored 0-4 from recovering possession off Galway’s short puck while Shefflin’s men only scored two points from Nickie Quaid’s short restarts. The net effect was that Limerick won the short puck-out battle in the first half by 0-3.

Scored off short puck-outs in the first half

(Team – scores from short PO – scored off opposition’s short PO- total)

  • Limerick 0-4 – 0-4 – 0-8
  • Galway 0-3 – 0-2 – 0-3  

Short puck-outs in the 2022 championship

Hurling people see the short puck-out as a blight on our game but there are many factors at play as to why teams are choosing to go short and why teams are happy to allow their opposition to do it. 

The data from this year’s championship shows that the short puck-out is not as detrimental to a team’s performance as people might think.

45% of the 899 short restarts in this year’s championship have resulted in possession being retained in the opposition’s half of the pitch. So is the long puck-out a better option? There were 2842 long puck-outs hit in the 2019, 2020, 2021 championship and this saw a retention rate of 49% from these restarts.

  • Short puck-out retention: 45%
  • Long puck-out retention: 49% 

Note: When analysing the success of a short puck I would always look to see if the restart resulted in possession being retained in the opposition’s half of the pitch or if the short puck-out resulted in a shot on the opposing goal.

Types of short puck-outs

There are several ways in which possession can be used from a short puck-out and these can be broken down into three methods.

  1. Delivered long – Where a team delivers possession from the short puck into the opposition’s half from their own. 
  2. Worked out – Where a team runs hard in possession using handpasses and stick passes to work the ball into the opposition’s half of the pitch.
  3. Back to the goalkeeper – Where a player immediately gives possession back to the goalkeeper and the goalkeeper delivers possession into the opposition’s half of the pitch. 

Short puck-out breakdown

(type of short puck-out – number hit – % retained in the opposition’s half) 

  • Delivered long – 555 – 45% 
  • Workout out – 291 – 53% 
  • Back to the goalkeeper – 53 – 35% 

Who is the best at turning their short puck-out into possession in the opposition’s half?

Sean Table 1

Sean Table 2

Why are teams using the short puck-out instead of the long puck-out?

The middle third is now the key battleground in hurling with 50% of the scores in this year’s championship coming from this area of the pitch. Teams are looking to crowd that middle third in games and this means that players are more likely to drop off and cover space outside the opposition’s 45-metre line. This has resulted in more space for full-back lines. 

2022 championship 

  • Overall score in  2022 championship: 94-1409
  • Scores generated from the middle third: 41-727 

Darragh Egan’s Wexford used the tactic of standing off the opposition’s puck-out in the 2022 championship and this saw his team concede 93 short puck-outs. Some would level this as a crazy tactic, giving up possession in games, but the structure of the Wexford team in their half of the pitch meant that the opposition only turned 33 of their 93 short puck outs (35% retention) into possession in the Wexford half of the pitch.

The refereeing has resulted in an increase in the quick short puck-out in games. The current rule in hurling is one whistle if the ball goes wide and two whistles if there is a score with the second whistle giving the referee time to write the score in his black book.

The quick short puck-out after a wide ball is now an important method to bypass the middle third of the pitch. This is taking away the number of 50/50 high balls being contested as the speed of the puck-out means that defences do not have enough time to reset and there are pockets of space to play the ball in to off the quick restart. 

CORKPO

A good example of a quick short puck-out is from the Tipperary and Cork game in the Munster hurling championship. Patrick Collins finds Mark Coleman with a quick restart and the Tipperary’s forward do not have the time to cover off the ball to Coleman or close him down.

The quick restart also means there is a huge pocket of space left in the Tipperary defence and Coleman can place a pass in front of the moving Cork forwards. 

 From a coaching point of view when we practice our team’s set-up on the opposition’s puck out in training, we usually give time to our players to gain structure. During games in training, we probably do not allow a quick puck-out to be taken to a free player as we want the session to have 50/50 contests which increases the number of rucks and the intensity of the session.

However, the evolution of the game means we need to coach teams to defend on the fly when the opposition’s restart goes out quickly.

When your team hits a long restart, it creates an opportunity for the opposition to counter-attack if they win back possession. Generally, the team’s wing-backs are positioned deep at the time the long puck-out is being delivered and the defender then must chase up the pitch to get closer to the opposition’s wing forward.

As a result, there is a pocket of space in your team’s defence that the opposition can exploit. This problem was highlighted for one of Clare’s goals when they played Tipperary in the Munster championship.

Clare’s Shane O Donnell retreated into his own half from the Tipperary puck-out and it forced the Tipperary wing-backs to push up the field to follow him. 

Picture3

When Clare turned over possession in their half of the pitch, a huge gap is created by Tipperary’s wing-back chasing up and this created space for John Conlon to run into and receive possession.

Picture4

The short puck-out which is then delivered long can be a team’s long puck-out in disguise for well-set-up teams. The team’s defence holds its structure and it can often draw the opposition’s midfield and half forwards closer to your own goals.

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

The result of this is often extra space in the opposition’s half for your forward players or they might have that extra split second to win possession if they do not win the delivery clean. This is probably one of the main reasons why it is the most common use of possession from the short puck in the 2022 championship.

Limerick could force Kilkenny to hit short puck-outs

The upcoming All-Ireland final may see Limerick sit off the Kilkenny puck-out and make Brian Cody’s team hit more short. Their previous meeting in 2019 saw the Cats hit just five short puck-outs in that game as Kilkenny attacked Limerick on the breaking ball from Eoin Murphy’s long puck-outs.

Limerick will be ready for this in 2022 and I expect they will try to make the breaking area ‘no country for Kilkenny men’.

dan-morrissey-and-william-odonoghue-tackle-tj-reid Source: James Crombie/INPHO

If we look at Kilkenny’s games this year and remove their performance on their short restarts against Laois and Westmeath, Cody’s team have only retained 39% of their short puck-outs in the opponent’s half of the pitch.

The short puck-out that Kilkenny players struggle most with is when thy receive possession and try to deliver the ball from the area between their 21-45 metre line to the area between the opposition’s 21-45 metre line. They have retained just 21% of these deliveries in those five games and this will not be lost on Limerick who have a habit of exposing chinks in the opposition’s armour.

While Kilkenny are improving their use of possession there has been an issue for them when they try to work the short puck out of their defence.

Tommy Walsh could be the player that Limerick will target as the Tullaroan man often trusts his speed and run with possession to get the ball higher up the pitch when he takes a short restart. Walsh has been turned over in possession on five occasions when working the ball out from his defence.

(Tommy Walsh – 5)

  • Between two 65-metre lines – 2 
  • own 21-45 metre line – 2
  • Own 45-65 metre line – 1

While the Tullaroan player has been one of the top defenders in the game this year without the ball it looks like the opposition are allowing Walsh to have the short puck-out in games. He has received 13 short puck-outs from Eoin Murphy with five of them being turned over and only three of the puck-outs he received resulting in possession for Kilkenny in the opposition’s half of the pitch.

  • Huw Lawlor – 5 
  • Mikey Butler – 5 
  • Paddy Deegan – 9
  • Richie Reid – 8
  • Tommy Walsh – 13

Other notable information from the analysis of short puck-outs

122 of the 291 short puck outs which were worked out of the defence were turned over in the team’s half of the pitch. Limerick are the most efficient team in the country working the short puck-out of their defence with 66% of their worked puck-outs resulting in possession in the opposition’s half.

The short puck-out which is passed back to the goalkeeper who then delivers a long pass into the opposition’s half of the pitch results in a 36% retention rate.

Scoring for and against short puck-out

(Type of puck-out – scored from puck-out – scores conceded from puck-out)

  • Delivered long – 9-78 (105) – 2-36(43)
  • Worked out – 2-65(71) – 4-45(57)
  • Back to goalkeeper – 0-10(10) – 0-5(5) 

(Where the short puck-out was hit – no. hit)

  • Own 21-45 metre line – 744
  • Own 45-65 metre line – 155

The puck-outs that are attempted between the 45-65 metre-line are the riskiest puck-outs due to the way the teams are setting up their forwards on the opposition’s puck-outs, but it is also a harder target for the goalkeeper to hit as 35 of the 155 puck-outs hit to this area were not won and were turned over by the opposition. 

Despite the frustration and complaints, there is no doubt the short puck-out has a place in today’s game. 

About the author:

Read next:

COMMENTS

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel