We've seen some incredible moments in the 2018 Ulster Senior Football Championship (13th May - 24th Jul) such as Fermanagh reaching the final for the first time in 10 years beating Monaghan through an Eoin Donnelly last minute goal. Donegal with the most profilifc full-forward line in Ulster scoring an impressive 1-53 to re-claim the Anglo-Celt Cup for the first time since 2014.
Here at Peforma Sports we've put together an Ulster SFC Team of the Year based on collated stats from across the Ulster Championship matches. We have looked at individual player performances using standardised Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) including Kickouts, Attacks, Shots from Play, Scoreable Frees, Tackles, Fouls, Bookings, Assists, as well as, Possessions won and lost. Each of these KPIs was assigned a weighted value ranging from -3 to +3 to add a layer of influence to the impact of the KPI - we've labelled this as a Performa Sports Rating (PSR), This PSR value provides us with a deeper insight into the influence each player has on the pitch. All of the data was collected using the Performa Sports iPad app and allowed us to produce a stats based Team of the Year based on objective data.
Have a look and let us know what you think. Would you make any changes?
Based on Performa Sports Rating (PSR) of the Ulster Senior Football Championship.
1 Rory Beggan – Monaghan (Avg. PSR 17)
No surprises that potentially the best keeper in Ireland is in the Ulster Championship team of the year. Having retained 91% of all his kickouts (32/35), highest retention rate out of everyone in the province, contributing with 19 possessions and four points from frees (4/7 - 57%), Beggan is a worthy winner of Ulster’s best goalkeeper 2018.
A special mention to Shaun Patton who narrowly missed out. Having retained 100% of his short kickouts (33/33) and 61% of his long kickouts (36/59), Donegal where able to utilise his accuracy and distance to score 3-13 from his long kickouts retained and 0-16 from their 33 short kickouts. He also directly assisted 1 point against Cavan from his kickout.
2 Caolan Ward – Donegal (Avg. PSR 23)
The first of two Donegal corner backs to make the team is St. Eunan’s ‘speed machine’ Caolan Ward. Having played in each round for Donegal although only appearing as a sub in the final. With this new attacking Donegal, the corner backs found themselves getting on a lot of ball - Caolan had 68 possessions over the championship and only gave the ball away twice. In his defensive duties he won 9 kickouts and made a total of 12 tackles, forcing 1 turnover. He also contributed at the other end of the pitch with 2 points from play (100%), and assisted 0-04 for his teammates. Caolan was on track to have the highest average PSR in the full back line based on his first three games, having only played 14 minutes in the Ulster SFC final he narrowly missed out.
3 Che Cullen – Fermanagh (Avg. PSR 13)
The first of three Fermanagh players to make the list is the ever-present Che Cullen. Having played every minute for Fermanagh during this campaign, Che had 27 possessions and only lost the ball once. With 11 tackles to his name he managed to force a turnover on the opposition 3 times. He won 2 kickouts for his team but he also contributed in the attacking third and was involved in 4 successful attacks while helping to set up 0-01. Che was vital throughout this campaign for Fermanagh as they held both Armagh and Monaghan to 17 points only to come up short against Donegal in the final.
4 Eoghan Ban Gallagher – Donegal (Avg. PSR 24)
The second Donegal corner back to make the list and was a potential candidate for man of the match in the Ulster SFC Final is Eoghan Ban Gallagher. Eoghan’s contribution this year was surprisingly in the attacking third of the pitch rather than his starting position as he helped put 1-01 on the scoreboard from 3 shots (67%) and directly set up 0-06 for his teammates. Having had 62 possessions he was involved in carrying the ball over the opposition 45-yard line 16 times. His attacking threat was huge for Donegal this year but he did do his defensive duties - also contributing with 13 tackles and helping to win 5 kickouts. Eoghan had the highest average PSR from everyone who played in the full back line and was a key player throughout this campaign for Donegal.
5 Barry Mulrone – Fermanagh (Avg. PSR 28)
The second of three Fermanagh players to make the list is Devenish clubman Barry Mulrone. Like all half backs in the current game, your attacking threat is as important as your defensive duties and Barry managed 58 possessions and had 9 successful attacking carries. He also helped a low scoring Fermanagh side convert 0-02 from 4 shots (50%) and help set up 0-05 for his teammates. Defensively he had a total of 13 tackles and forced 1 turnover. He was also an outlet for kickouts having retained 5 over their 3 Ulster SFC games.
6 Frank McGlynn – Donegal (Avg. PSR 34)
Our number 6 was one of the most consistent performers in the Ulster Championship this season, playing in the sweeper role he had the third best average PSR of 34. The high number of possessions he achieved throughout the Championship accumulating 95 and only losing the ball 3 times achieved this. He managed his defensive duties well with 13 tackles and forcing 4 turnovers. He was a great outlet for the Donegal kickouts winning 7 and with no designated man marker on McGlynn he was able to break the opposition 45 yard in possession 15 times and assisted 0-03.
7 Ryan McHugh – Donegal (Avg. PSR 39)
No surprises that the Kilcar native makes the top 15 performers in Ulster, and statistically he is the best performer achieving an average PSR of 39. Thanks to being joint top scorer from play with McBrearty scoring 2-04 from 9 shots (67%) and assisting 2-10 means he was directly involved in 4-14 of Donegal’s 8-76 scores. McHugh was directly involved in 26% of all Donegal scores. With the second highest possession count of 97, losing the ball only once, McHugh was hard to dispossess and therefore was able to contribute to 20 successful attacks. He was also joint 2nd highest for total tackle count on the team of the year with 15 tackles forcing 3 turnovers.
8 Eoin Donnelly – Fermanagh (Avg. PSR 27)
The last of the Fermanagh players to make the list is Eoin Donnelly. With virtually nothing to separate both Donnelly and Hugh McFadden of Donegal, the decision went in favour of the Coa O'Dwyers club man as he had scored 1-01 from 4 shots (50%), which is 1 point more than McFadden. Donnelly’s goal of course was crucial in sending Fermanagh to their first final since 2008. He managed 53 possessions in 3 games and won 4 kickouts. One of Fermanagh’s’ main attacking threats - he had 11 successful attacks and set up 0-06 for his teammates. Donnelly also made 10 tackles and forced 1 turnover. Donnelly has been one of Fermanagh’s’ most consistent performers over the last few years and with his teams Ulster Final appearance, he has been allowed more game time to show how much of an influence he can be.
9 Leo McLoone – Donegal (Avg. PSR 31)
Our stand-out midfield performer was Donegal’s’ Leo McLoone. Acting as a constant link man between defence and attack for Donegal, McLoone had 93 possessions and only lost the ball 3 times. Similarly to teammate Ryan McHugh, he managed 15 tackles and forced 2 turnovers. His best impact was probably in the attacking third of the pitch with 11 successful attacks and helped his team score 1-04 from 5 shots (100%) and set up 0-06. A great return for a midfielder, especially as both himself and McFadden would rotate with Frank McGlynn as he charged up the pitch in order to keep their defence from being caught out on the counter.
10 Conor Maginn – Down (Avg. PSR 28)
Probably one of the more surprising entries into the team of the year is Down’s Conor Maginn. With only having played two games in this campaign, Maginn showed that’s it’s not all about quantity but quality. The numbers that he achieved are in some instances higher than players that played 3 or even 4 games. With 66 possessions, playing in a similar way to Ciaran Kilkenny at Dublin, Maginn dictates matters for Down. With 7 successful attacks he helped add 0-03 from 3 shots (100%) and also set up 1-04. Even with Down having a relatively comfortable day out against Antrim, Maginn’s contribution against Donegal was more influential than the Antrim game, and is one of two players who only played two games to make the top 15 this year.
11 Michael Langan – Donegal (Avg. PSR 24)
The first of five Donegal forwards to make the list which can hardly be any surprise as they racked up a massive 8-76 in their 4 Ulster SFC games. Langan had a return of 0-04 from 12 shots (33%) and set up 0-04. Although his conversion rate isn’t what you want from your centre half forward his 62 possessions show an eagerness to get on the ball as much as possible, and as you would expect a high number of successful attacks (15) show his willingness to break the opposition’s 45 yard line. He was another valuable outlet for Donegal having won 11 kickouts. Langan also made a total of 9 tackles while forcing 2 turnovers.
12 Ciaran Thompson – Donegal (Avg. PSR 22)
Our final half forward is Glenties man Ciaran Thompson. Thanks to his outstanding display in the final he narrowly made the team ahead of teammate Odhran MacNiallais. Similarly to Langan, Thompson attempted 12 shots but with a higher return of 0-07(1f) and set up 0-02. The Glenties man really stepped up in the final as he contributed 0-03 of his 0-07 in the final and 0-01 of his two assists. Of the 13 successful attacks, 7 of them came in the final. This is not to say Thompson hadn’t played well up to the final as he still had 68 possessions, won 6 kickouts and made 10 tackles throughout the rest of the championship.
13 Patrick McBrearty – Donegal (Avg. PSR 27)
Now onto one of the best full forward lines in the country and no surprises as we start with the second Kilcar man to make the list. Joint highest scorer in the Ulster Championship with 0-18(6f) from 29 shots (62%), McBrearty was on top form throughout this campaign. With 13 successful attacks he also set up 1-05 and played a major part in Eoghan Ban Gallagher's goal sending Donegal clear in the first half of the final. McBrearty had 74 possessions in total only losing the ball 5 times, and it is with stats like these that Donegal are going to sorely miss McBrearty due to an unfortunate season ending cruciate injury.
14 Michael Murphy – Donegal (Avg. PSR 38)
The number 14 jersey goes to the joint highest scorer in the Ulster Championship with McBrearty, scoring 0-18 (10f) from 27 shots (67%) Michael Murphy. Achieving an outstanding average PSR of 38, it’s no surprise that the Glenswilly club man makes the team. With 107 possessions, the most of anyone in the Ulster Championship, 13 attacks and assisted 1-05, his contribution in the attacking third for Donegal is unquestionable. He also helps out with his defensive duties winning 12 kickouts, making 20 tackles (highest of the Ulster Championship) and forced 1 turnover. Murphy is the focal point of the Donegal attack and when he’s on top of his game, there are not many out there that can stop him. He’ll need to keep this level of performance up if Donegal are looking to challenge for more silverware come September.
15 Jamie Brennan – Donegal (Avg. PSR 20)
The last but by no means least on the list is Donegal’s 10th player to make the Ulster Championship Team of the Year, is Bundoran native Jamie Brennan. With his lighting quick pace, Brennan ended the Championship scoring 1-07 from 17 shots (47%) and set up 1-06. A great return considering how much his full forward line had contributed also. With 47 possessions he contributed to 15 successful attacks. A constant threat for each team they faced throughout the campaign and along with his full forward pairing the three Donegal men have lit up this years Championship with their scoring and combination play.