It’s a squad game. Invariably if a team brings on a Sub and he scores a vital point we all hail the strength in depth of a squad. Donegal have too small a squad, the Dubs have an abundance of talent and Kerry’s bench is packed with All Stars. But how do teams use their squad and is there any truth to the cliché that it’s a squad game.
The average Squad size in 2015 is 25. Sure you have some variance. Sligo at 21 and just 8 subs used in their 3 games does seem low. Westmeath & Roscommon top the pile, having used 29 players each in their 4 games. What about the superior 7 counties?
In the first graph you will see that the number of players used is not all that different. Tyrone played 7 games which might explain their high number and Monaghan do look a couple of players short but the others; Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Kerry & Mayo are all very similar.
How Are they Used?
Ok so just because a team used X number of players doesn’t mean much on it’s own. The second image shows how many players have started every game and how many have played max game time.
The stand-out numbers here is that just 5 Kerry players have started every game. This is half the number for Dublin, Cork, Donegal, Monaghan & Mayo. It really does show how willing Eamonn Fitzmaurice is to change his side from game-to-game (or does he just now know his best 15?). Only Sean Kavanagh played max game time for Tyrone! Tyrone managed to use a lot of different players giving them good game time, starts and still reach a semi-final.
What does squad depth really mean? Players used, starts, game-time? Or do we just weave a narrative after the fact?