I’m still mopping up here after the conclusion of this year’s National Football League, this time to sort a few stats about who played for us in the campaign, who scored what and that kind of thing. Similar pieces I’ve done on this in previous years are here – 2016, 2017.
Let’s start with details on who started, came on as a sub and scored in each of the seven League matches we played this year. This information is all set out in the table below. As in previous years, a tick denotes where a player was in the starting fifteen, an ‘S’ shows where the appearance was as a substitute.
Here are a few nuggets culled from the above.
We used a total of 35 players in this year’s NFL. That compares with just 30 last year and 36 in 2016.
Five players started in all seven games (seven did so in 2017 and four the year before that). The five ever-present lads this year were Stephen Coen, Kevin McLoughlin, Diarmuid O’Connor, Eoin O’Donoghue and Aidan O’Shea. Interesting that three out of that quintet were all on the 2016 U21 All-Ireland winning team.
A further two players – Colm Boyle (six starts) and Conor Loftus (two starts) – took part in all seven matches. Last year four players did so and the year before that two did.
Five other players played a part in six of the seven games this year. These were Fergal Boland (all as sub, the only match he missed was in the opening round when his involvement with the Tooreen hurlers was just finishing up), Ger Cafferkey (six starts), Caolan Crowe (five starts), Jason Doherty (six starts) and Andy Moran (five starts).
At the other end of the spectrum in terms of appearances, four players saw just fleeting action for us in this year’s League. Alan Freeman (introduced very late against Donegal), Danny Kirby (brought on against Dublin), Donie Newcombe (a blood sub in the Galway game) and James Stretton (who also came off the bench in Pearse Stadium) all made a single substitute appearance each for us in this spring campaign.
Comparing the stats from this year and 2017 it’s clear that there’s a large degree of continuity between the panel of players we used for this year’s League compared to last. That said, a combination of absences through injuries/rehab plus some experimentation did result in a bit of change this year compared to twelve months ago.
Players who featured this year but weren’t involved in 2017 were Shairoze Akram (who made his League debut from the bench against Monaghan in Round 1), Ger Cafferkey, Caolan Crowe (who made a few appearances in the 2016 League but none at all last year), Adam Gallagher (back for the first time since 2015), Michael Hall (who was involved in four matches in 2016), Robbie Hennelly, Ger McDonagh, Barry Moran (who, to boot, only made a single appearance, off the bench as well, in the 2016 NFL), Seamus O’Shea and James Stretton (who made his NFL debut off the bench against Galway).
Five players saw NFL action for us in 2017 but didn’t appear this year. They were Chris Barrett (recovering from surgery), Keith Higgins (involved with the hurlers but who has since rejoined the football panel), Liam Irwin (now kicking ball over in London), Michael Plunkett (who played for us in the FBD this year but didn’t make the cut for the League) and Donal Vaughan (recovering from surgery).
As the table above confirms, our leading scorer in the 2018 NFL was Conor Loftus with sixteen points, the vast bulk of those coming from frees. Andy Moran, with eight points, contributed most for us from open play. After him, our most potent scorers from play were Diarmuid O’Connor (1-3), Kevin McLoughlin (0-5) and Eoin O’Donoghue (0-4).
The numbers aren’t included in the table but it’s worth mentioning all the time that we scored a total of 3-85 over the course of the seven games, down slightly on last year’s 3-89 tally. Defensively, though, we were much poorer this year – conceding 7-89 compared to 4-80 last year.
That’s about it on the facts and figures relating to this year’s League. Onwards to the championship.