CASTLEBAR defender Paddy Durcan was in possession of the ball more than any other Mayo player in the league campaign just gone.
The Mitchels man was one of five players to play every single minute of the league and he had a huge total of 166 possessions.
That averages out at 24 per game, a very healthy number for a defender, especially considering Durcan spent some of his time at corner-back.
The highest average of any Mayo player in the games they started (appearances off the bench leaves players at a disadvantage) is Shane Nally. He started the last two Mayo games and averaged 30 possessions with 35 against Tyrone and 25 against Donegal.
Next are Diarmuid O’Connor and Tom Parsons who averaged 26 in their starts.
There has to be an asterisk beside O’Connor though. He started two games with a phenomenal 43 possessions against Roscommon (the highest we ever recall a Mayo player recording) but it was down to nine possessions in his next start, v Dublin.
Parsons’ influence was more consistent, averaging 26 possessions across five starts with 19 his lowest and 36 his highest.
Considering he lined out at full-back during the league, Keith Higgins’ total of 148 possessions - an average of 21 possessions per game - is mightily impressive. It shows how vital Higgins is in putting Mayo on the front foot from deep, which is particularly relevant with Mayo’s short kick-out strategy.
Stephen Coen and Lee Keegan are two other defenders who were busy from deep. In the four games he started, Coen averaged 23 possessions per game (his average of 14 possessions per appearance off the bench is also impressive).
Keegan started Mayo’s last four games and averaged 22 possessions per each of those games. It’s actually lower than his possessions total in his one appearance off the bench when he had 28 possessions versus Roscommon. We said it at the time that clash was a basket case for stats. That continues to be the case.
Other noteworthy averages from their starts are Fergal Boland (19), Kevin McLoughlin (17), Danny Kirby (17), Cillian O’Connor (22), Conor O’Shea (25) and Andy Moran (17).
Top 6 player possessions
Paddy Durcan 166
Cillian O’Connor 153
Keith Higgins 148
Tom Parsons 135
Fergal Boland 133
Stephen Coen 132