THE week after the All-Ireland hurling final in August, the esteemed GAA statistician, Leo McGough, crunched some very impressive numbers to underline the importance and impact of Tipperary’s four key players – Seamus Callanan, Noel McGrath, Padraic and Brendan Maher – to their All-Ireland success.
McGough’s number highlighted the consistency, class and experience all four players had brought to Tipperary over the decade. But Padraic Maher’s consistency of selection, and presence on the pitch, stood out.
In the 49 championship matches Tipp played between 2010-’19, Maher started each one and finished all but three, only being replaced as late as the 63rd, 66th and 68th minutes of three games his side were running away with.
Paudie Maher had also reluctantly left the field twice to be treated as a blood sub for two minutes during the All-Ireland final wins against Kilkenny in 2016 and 2019.
In total, allowing that all matches now last at least 76 minutes due to additional time at the end of each half, McGough estimated that Maher had played all but 26 of the 3,724 championship minutes Tipp played throughout this decade.
All of the numbers McGough crunched, especially when comparing the minutes played between the Tipperary players, further highlighted the glorious renaissance of Callanan during the second half of his Tipp career. Callanan is a nailed-on starter and finisher for Tipp now but Padraic Maher still played 700 minutes more (almost 12 hours) of championship hurling than Callanan throughout the decade.
Callanan, McGrath and the two Mahers would have made most people’s ‘Team of the Decade’ so McGough also totted up the numbers of three other players guaranteed to make that team – Joe Canning, TJ Reid and Patrick Horgan.
Studying the number of championship minutes clocked up by all seven players, Horgan is third behind TJ Reid and Padraic Maher, with the Glen Rovers man accumulating 3, 534 minutes between 2010-’19.
Yet in a number of key breakdowns in the overall stats categories, Horgan was ahead of everyone else; he scored a point every nine minutes, with Reid, Canning and Callanan managing to do so every 10th, 11th and 15th minutes respectively; Horgan scored a point from play every 30 minutes, with Canning, Callanan and Reid managing to do so every 32nd, 33rd and 53rd minutes respectively.
The only category Horgan trailed Reid, Canning and Callanan in was goalscoring. Callanan was out on his own with one green flag raised every 100 minutes, with Horgan coming in with one goal every 186 minutes. When the numbers of goals from play were broken down though, Horgan came in ahead of Canning, with Horgan scoring a goal from play every 272 minutes, and Canning raising a green flag from play every 281 minutes.
Horgan’s numbers continue to be off the charts.
When @GAA_Insights compiled their Points-per-Shots table (from play) for the All-Ireland senior hurling championship after the season ended, much of the work which was done by the excellent statistician Brian McDonnell, Horgan came in third; he had 34 points (the total taken from goals as well as points) accumulated from 34 shots. Callanan topped the table with 41 points from 36 shots from play but those numbers were bumped up from Callanan’s incredible goalscoring rate – he nailed 8-17 from play in the championship from those 36 shots.
Horgan was third in the table because he was just .05 of a point behind Wexford’s Conor McDonald in the average of points-per-shot category. However, Horgan’s numbers still jumped out ahead of everyone else bar Callanan on that table of 20 players; apart from Callanan, Horgan had more shots than everyone else; along with Noel and John McGrath and Jason Forde, no other player of the 20 on the table had more than 25 shots from play throughout the summer.
Callanan may have led the table from play but the nearest anyone came to Horgan’s total of 34 points was John McGrath and Forde’s tally of 24 points. And those Tipperary men played two more championship matches than Horgan.
Horgan is an incredible free-taker. He has scored more than anyone else this decade (19-392) but McGough’s numbers also underline just how prolific Horgan has been from play over the last ten years; he has nailed 13-117 (156 points). Callanan is the leading scorer from play during this decade with 30-90 (180 points) but Horgan is second in that list. As a comparison, Horgan has scored 15 points more from play than Canning, and 41 more points than Reid, over the last 10 seasons.
The one thing that Horgan doesn’t have, and all of those other great players mentioned above do, is that elusive All-Ireland senior medal. Yet nobody disputes Horgan’s brilliance and being short-listed for Hurler-of-the-Year is a further endorsement of that huge status.
Callanan is favourite to win the award on Friday night, something all genuine hurling supporters would welcome, especially after he finished runner-up for three successive years between 2014-’16.
In the 61-year history of the Hurler-of-the-Year award (which includes the GAA-GPA award since 1995), only six players have secured the award when not winning an All-Ireland in the same year – Christy Ring, Tony Doran, Brian Corcoran, Tony Browne, Dan Shanahan and Austin Gleeson.
Reaching an All-Ireland final also clearly matters when selecting the three nominees each year. In the last 12 years, 32 of the 36 players shortlisted played in an All-Ireland final that season, with the other four making it as far as the All-Ireland semi-final.
In that context, Horgan is the first player this decade to make the shortlist, despite his team not even reaching an All-Ireland semi-final.
That isn’t a number Horgan, or Cork, would want. But it’s another number than does justice to Horgan’s incredible stats from this decade.
Callanan led the table from play but the nearest anyone came to Horgan’s total of 34 points was a tally of 24 points