Last season was the highest-scoring in modern football championship history.
Taking that 'modern history' in football started in 2001 with the advent of the All-Ireland qualifiers and the introduction of a second chance for teams beaten in their province, scoring stats have been on a slow, largely upward curves for the past 13 seasons.
In 2018 the scoring rate was an average of 18.79 points per game, per team – or in other words, just over 37 and-a-half points per game (that’s the goals and points combined figure).
The rate of scoring in the current season after 63 of the 70 scheduled games have been played is slightly down at 17.6 points per game, per team, or 35.2 points per match.
That, however, still sets 2019 on course to be the third highest scoring football championship out of the last 19 editions, bettered only by last year and 2017, and in the latter’s case, only just.
Goals per game are slightly down this year too, 2.1 green flags being raised on average each 70 minutes, but that still places 2019 sixth in the goal-scoring charts since 2001. Last year there were 2.26 goals per game, with 2014 the highest at 2.34.
The first year of the qualifiers was ’01 when the scoring rate was 14.79 points per team, per game. From there it grew in small increments to 2004, after which it started to drop. The bottom was reached in 2006 when it hit 13.8 points per game, per team.
Since then the curve has been largely upwards, with the odd small fall backwards, for 13 seasons. This is despite many teams relying on defensive systems to keep their rate of concession down and some pundits arguing that we don’t see enough attacking football.
The simple fact is that the game is evolving and will continue to evolve.
Most coaches have seen the limitations of a belt-and-braces defensive plan and understand the need to put in place attacking structures. In other words, you can concentrate as hard as you like on not losing a game, but at some stage you’re going to have to go out and try to win the game.
There were several hidings handed out this year, particularly, but not limited to, the early stages of the provincial championships, and these may skew the statistics. The counter-argument is that there has always been hidings – Kerry usually give Waterford a beating and Dublin generally work Carlow over, for example.
The highest-scoring game of the season was Dublin against Cork in the first round of the Super 8s, the Dubs winning 5-18 to 1-17 adding up to a 53-point total.
But there have been plenty of high-scoring thrillers this year too – Kildare and Longford drew 3-15 to 1-21 in Leinster, their combined 48 points making it the third-highest scoring game of the summer.
The second-highest scoring game was the Ulster final where Donegal beat Cavan 2-16 to 1-24, combining for 49 points. Donegal and Kerry shared a 1-20 a piece draw last weekend for a 46-point total while Armagh beat Down 2-17 to 3-13 after extra-time for a 45-point total.
At the other end of the scale was the Munster quarter-final between Clare and Waterford which the Banner won 0-09 to 0-08 – their 17 points the lowest total in the football championship this season.