Friday 24 March 2017

Home truth

Statistics for the last three years suggest playing on your own patch not a huge advantage

Cork, who have lost only one home league match in the last three years, will be determined to make their own patch a fortress once again in the new campaign.
Cork, who have lost only one home league match in the last three years, will be determined to make their own patch a fortress once again in the new campaign.
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

HOME advantage in the forthcoming Allianz Football League, which begins tomorrow night, provides less than a 2/1 chance of victory, an Irish Independent analysis of results can reveal.

The figure somewhat dilutes the perception that a home venue in the GAA's second most important inter-county competition is a major advantage.

The proximity to neighbouring venues and much-improved transport infrastructure may be reasons why an away match in the league is not as daunting as it once was.

The analysis, taken over the last three years of results, shows that the home team has won 61.5pc of some 358 league matches.

Mayo, Kerry, Cork and Dublin have consistently raided northern venues over this period with sustained success, while Ulster teams have travelled south and plundered places that were once considered fortresses.

Rises

But if the home matches of London and Kilkenny, the perennial whipping boys of the basement division are excluded, that figure rises to over 65pc.

Between them, London and Kilkenny have won just three of their 24 matches, Kilkenny's only victory being their 2008 Nowlan Park success over the Exiles.

A home team in Division 3 are the most likely to win, based on the results taken from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 leagues, which show a 69pc return for the hosts in the third tier.

Because of the slight anomaly provided by Kilkenny and London's weakness, Division 4 has the worst home record with just 57.4pc of victories.

Nonetheless, eight counties face successive away matches over the first two weekends, a situation they will not be happy with, despite our statistical analysis. Cork, Galway, Cavan, Limerick, Sligo, Kilkenny, Roscommon and Wicklow are all on the road for their first two games.

Cavan look to be at a disadvantage in Division 3, as they must play four of their first five matches away from Kingspan Breffni Park and their prospects of climbing back into Division 3 look hampered by this strange anomaly.

Normally, counties play home and away on alternate weekends with some exceptions.

Armagh, Mayo, Laois, Offaly, Louth, London, Leitrim and Carlow will all be looking to boost the home win ratio in the league as they start with back-to-back home fixtures.

For Division 1 side Galway, there is the prospect of four of their first six games on the road, including Sunday's trip to Inniskeen.

Roscommon also have the same ratio of home and away games.

Once they get their trip to the Athletic Grounds in Armagh out of the way tomorrow night, Dublin will play four of their next five games in Croke Park, the journey to Monaghan their only other 'road' trip before mid-April.

The success rate for Division 1 teams in the three-year window is 58.9pc. Out of a total of 84 games, the home team in the top flight has won exactly half of the 84 games with five games drawn.

Kerry have played 11 home games in Division 1 over the course of that period and lost just twice, both defeats coming in 2010 to Dublin in the opening round, when they were just back from holidays, and later in the campaign to Mayo.

Cork have the best home record of all 33 participating counties across the four divisions.

They have played 10 games at either Pairc Ui Rinn or Pairc Ui Chaoimh and have lost just once -- to Mayo in their final game of last year's campaign when they had already qualified for the league final and chose to field a weakened team.

Mayo's home record is poor at just 50pc, a figure they share with Kildare. That is in contrast with their away record, particularly in 2010 when they won all four games on the road.

Armagh are second to Cork with an 85pc record featuring eight wins and a draw from 10 games. Their only defeat was to Monaghan in the Athletic Grounds in 2009.

Surprising

One of the most surprising statistics thrown up by the analysis is how vulnerable Tyrone have become at Healy Park and Edendork, which they sometimes use as a home venue.

Tyrone find themselves in 24th overall among the most regular home winners, with six victories from 11 games in the period, giving them a slightly better than 50pc ratio.

Dublin have been somewhat hit-and-miss in Parnell Park and on the only occasion in the three years that they hosted in Croke Park, they lost to Tyrone.

They've lost twice in Parnell Park to Derry in 2009 and Galway last year, while Monaghan and Galway have both drawn there.

Offaly's time in Division 4 has helped to swell their record of success at O'Connor Park in Tullamore, with 10 wins from 12 a reflection of the sometimes uncompetitive environment they have found themselves in.

The success rate of teams in Division 2 is 62.9pc with eight draws from 84 matches.

Meath's awful record away from home is cushioned by their ability to get results in Pairc Tailteann, with just one defeat from 10 games to Fermanagh in 2009.

Kildare's St Conleth's Park in Newbridge, however, is not the fortress you might imagine.

They have coughed up defeats in four of their nine games under Kieran McGeeney.

Overall, 358 games were played (Cork lost the points for their opening Division 2 games in 2008 because of the players strike).

The home team won 209 of them, there were 23 draws and the points went to the visitors in 126 of the games.

Irish Independent

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