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big changes Dublin 2011 v Dublin 2020: How Dublin have become more efficient and more miserly in possession in key areas

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Dublin players stand for the playing of the national anthem before the game between Roscommon and Dublin at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dublin players stand for the playing of the national anthem before the game between Roscommon and Dublin at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dublin players stand for the playing of the national anthem before the game between Roscommon and Dublin at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Last weekend, amongst the less familiar Dublin faces ran a very familiar narrative.

Apart from another routine win for the Dubs, their ruthless efficiency shone through. By the end of their clash with Roscommon, they had converted 23 of 27 shots on goal. Or in other words 85pc.

As good as Dublin can look on grass, sometimes they are even more impressive when their numbers are written down.

Time and again, they have set the standard and style that teams across the country have to try and match.

Across their record-breaking run, and even before, Dublin have been looking for ways to improve.

And from their breakthrough win under Pat Gilroy, through to Jim Gavin’s history-making side, and now on to Dessie Farrell’s team, they have found new ways to push the needle in their favour and areas where they can improve.

Our comparison is just a snapshot in time that compares the 2011 All-Ireland winning side’s performance with the one that secured Sam Maguire last December.

And the study – completed by analyst Diarmuid Whelan, in conjunction with Deely Sport Science – shows that in several of the key areas, they have become more efficient and more miserly in possession.

The most obvious improvement comes in the turnover category. In last December’s All-Ireland final against Mayo, they turned over the ball just 15 times. Dublin gave the ball away 26 times in the ’11 final.

For context, teams generally look to keep that number in the early- to mid-twenties.

That theme of being more careful with the ball is a common thread through many football teams –and one that is carried through to Dublin’s average actions per possession, defined as how many hops, solos, passes etc for every time they have the ball.

That increased significantly from almost 10pc in ’11 to almost 17pc last year. It indicates a patience to find the right pass to the right person, rather that trying to force it.

Notably, the took one less shot in the 2020 final but despite that were much more efficient and kicked the ball less, down to 23pc from 32pc.

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On the surface these are changes in line with the direction football is moving, and in some cases the gains are marginal. But they are football’s market leaders. And they’ll pushing envelope to keep it that way.

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