The percentages add up to 'yes'??

Thursday, 25 May 2017

DONEGAL, Tyrone, and Monaghan are, at the moment, considered to be the top teams in Ulster and all three have been involved as favourites to lift the Anglo-Celt Cup and the Ulster Senior Championship football titles.

The recently published National League 2017 statistics and performance percentage, however, show that despite missing out on Division Three promotion, Armagh is ahead of the other five counties as the best contender outside the top three for the Ulster title.

Armagh's figures are so impressive and could be the dark horses in Ulster to either reach the Ulster final or indeed win the Ulster title.

According to the figures Armagh were the top goal scorers (2.14 per game), the second best 'Most Attack Minded teams' in the country behind Westmeath (25 total scores per game) with Armagh on 21.14 total scores in second place.

In the top goal scorers category the next Ulster county was Derry (1.14 per game) in 10th place, while Donegal (15 total scores per game) in 16th place were the nearest Ulster county to Armagh in the most attack minded category.

In the 'teams most prolific from open play' category were Armagh again on 86% of scores from play.

Second were Kildare (84%) and the nearest Ulster county was Derry in fourth place (78%).

In the team's 'Most Reliant on Frees' for scores Armagh were bottom (14%) while Fermanagh (top) (43%), Tyrone, Antrim, Monaghan and Down were in the top 12 teams reliant on frees.

Armagh, playing a flowing pattern of play, have a potent forward line and will cause a threat, especially from play in Ulster.

Defence, largely injury ridden, was Armagh's weakest part but the Orchard were not near the poorest defenders in the country.

In the most defence minded teams (average conceded per game), Armagh were 10th with Tyrone, Donegal and Monaghan the only Ulster teams conceding less per game - the top three favourites.

In terms of goals conceded, Armagh fared badly conceding 1.29 per game; but hold on, Derry, Down and Fermanagh conceded more below them. Armagh were 26th (1.29), Down 29th (1.43), Derry 30th (1.57) and Fermanagh 31st (1.71).

For teams, most vulnerable to 'scores against' from frees, Kerry led the way (46%) whereas Armagh were 16th (30% conceded) with Monaghan, Donegal and Cavan worse off than Armagh, and Down just ahead of them in 17th place.

In the category, the teams 'most vulnerable to scores from open play' Armagh were again mid-table in 17th place (70% scores conceded from play). Kerry were best in last place (54%).

The Ulster teams who conceded more than Armagh from play were Fermanagh (78%), Antrim (75%), Derry (75%), Tyrone (71%), and Down (71%). Only Donegal (69%), Cavan (69%), and Monaghan (68%) conceded less scores from play.

If we consider, Armagh's figures with Downs:

Data comparison _Winner

Most attack minded: Armagh (21.14):Down (13.43)_Armagh

Most defence minded: Armagh (14.71):Down (16)_Armagh

Top goal scorers: Armagh (2.14):Down (0.43)_Armagh

Least goals scored: Armagh (1.29):Down (1.43)_Armagh

Most reliant on frees: Armagh (14%):Down (32%)_Armagh

Most prolific from play: Armagh (86%):Down (68%)_Armagh

Most vulnerable from frees: Armagh (30%):Down (29%)_ Down

Most vulnerable from open play: Armagh (70%):Down (71%)_Armagh

Of the eight categories, Armagh's figures are better in 'seven' than Down.

Down proved slightly (1%) less vulnerable than Armagh and so the figures suggest that Armagh look the more likely winners in their forthcoming June 4 Ulster quarter final tie at Pairc Esler.

Of the top three teams, Donegal have the overall better figures than Monaghan and Tyrone, so it looks likely that the Ulster semi-finals on National League form could be:

Donegal v Tyrone; Monaghan v Armagh.

With Armagh's figures overall better than Monaghan then the Ulster final will be:

Donegal v Armagh

Dare I suggest that Armagh could spring a surprise and be provincial champions.

I know critics will disagree and I certainly agree with the notion that the big 'three' - all Division One teams this year - have a far superior chance of winning Ulster than Armagh.

For me, nothing's impossible. I also acknowledge that Paddy Morrison, Charlie Vernon, Brendan Donaghy, and Kieran McKeever will have to be fully physically and match fit if Armagh are to succeed. Stranger things have happened.


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