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Are Dublin A Historically Dominant Team? Here's What The Stats Tell Us

Are Dublin A Historically Dominant Team? Here's What The Stats Tell Us
By Gary Connaughton

It was inevitable. Dublin have won their fourth All-Ireland Football Championship in a row.

It is an incredible feat for Jim Gavin's men. Only two other counties have managed it, the last being the famous Kerry team of the early 1980s. While this is an almost unprecedented achievement, the reaction from the public has been oddly subdued. Perhaps that is because this outcome never really seemed in doubt. It feels as though we have never seen such an unstoppable force in Gaelic football. Scarily, the gap between Dublin and the chasing pack only seems to be widening.

But are Dublin the most dominant team we have ever seen? Here's what the stats tell us.

Recent History

Dublin have won six of the last eight All-Ireland Football Championships, including the last four on the trot. The only teams to beat them in the championship during this spell are Mayo in 2012 and Donegal in 2014. Interestingly, neither of those teams went on to win the All-Ireland.

When Dublin won their first title of the century in 2011, the average margin of victory in their games was 3.7 points. They scored two goals in a game only once, in a 2-12 to 1-12 victory over Wexford in the Leinster Final.

In 2013 the average victory margin would rise significantly to 8.2 points. They registered two goals or more in four of their six games.

The average margin for their current four-in-a-row run suggest they are just getting more dominant:

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2015 - 11 points

2016 - 6.3 points

2017 - 12.5 points

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2018 - 12.9 points

With the exception of 2016, there has been a continual rise in Dublin average margin of victory. They have also scored two goals or more in over 50% of their games during this run.

The introduction of the Super 8s did little to end that trend this year. Despite playing more games against what would be considered to be the other top teams in the country, their dominance extended even further.

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Comparing the Dubs to the average winning margins of the other championship winners over the past 11 years illustrates just how easy they've had things:

Tyrone 2008 - 4.9 points

Kerry 2009 - 3.9 points

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Cork 2010 - 5.3 points

Donegal 2012 - 5.2 points

Kerry 2014 - 4.9 points

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So Dublin have had the five most dominant championship campaigns in the last 11 years.

Their dominance in Leinster is absolutely staggering. They have not lost a Leinster championship game since 2010, with only one loss since 2005.

Only twice since 2013 have a team come within 10 points of the Dubs in the Leinster Championship. Nobody has got within five. They have frequently registered 20-point victories, including a 31-point hammering of Westmeath last year.

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Historical Dominance

In conversations about the greatest team of all time, the great Kerry team from 1975-86 is often considered to be the benchmark. They are also the last team to win four-in-a-row, so it is interesting to see how their stats measure up to the current Dublin side.

Taking the two four-in-a-row teams (Kerry 78-81), it's interesting to compare their average margin of victory.

Dublin:

2015 - 11 points

2016 - 6.3 points

2017 - 12.5 points

2018 - 12.9 points

Average : 10.7 points

Kerry:

1978 - 15.3 points

1979 - 19.8 points

1980 - 6 points

1981 - 14.3 points

Average: 13.9 points

While there were certainly less games to overcome, Kerry still had over three points more to spare than Dublin during their glory years.

Like Dublin, Kerry were also untouchable within their own province, winning eight Munster titles in a row from 1975-82.

Something that is also interesting to consider is how those teams have evolved during their winning runs.

For example, from the Kerry team that started the 1978 All-Ireland final, 14 would start in 1981. Pat Spillane was the only player to miss out, and he did so because of injury. He would feature as a substitute.

Dublin on the other hand have brought in

So while that Kerry side may have been going stale by the time they lost to Offaly in the 1982 All-Ireland final, this Dublin team is continually changing. Only 9 of yesterday's starting team were in the first 15 in 2015. Of the six forwards who started that day against Kerry, only Ciaran Kilkenny and Dean Rock played any part against Tyrone four years later.

That is the difference between the two sides. Dublin are always blooding new players, while also statistically improving every year. That is a terrifying prospect for any team trying to stop this seemingly invincible juggernaut.

While this Dublin team still have a long way to go to match the achievements of Kerry's eight All-Irelands in 12 years, they are well on their way. Dublin are showing no signs of slowing down after six in eight.

It is incredibly hard to compare two vastly different eras, but one thing to take note of is the amount of games each team played. Kerry only had to win at most four games to win the Sam Maguire (three in 1980), while Dublin have had to play at least six (eight in 2018).

This may also contribute to the turnover of players. While Kerry were able to remain pretty much unchanged during their four year run, Dublin continue to bring in younger players.

That stat bodes well for Dublin as we look at their prospects going forward. The introduction of new players every year is sure to keep the group motivated, and it is hard to see Jim Gavin letting standards drop anytime soon.

While it can be debated which of these great four-in-a-row sides was more dominant, this may not be the case for much longer. If Dublin can do next what Seamus Darby denied Kerry in 1982, there can be no more argument. At this point, it's hard to see how it won't happen.

SEE ALSO: In Pictures: Marvellous Scenes As Dublin Team Visit Temple Street And Crumlin

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