Kildare and Tyrone may enjoy home comforts in this weekend’s second round of the Super 8 but the difference between the number of frees they are pointing compared to those that are being converted against them should worry both sides.
The margin between converted frees for and against is either non-existent or negligible for Dublin, Kerry, and Roscommon, while Galway, who can boast the meanest defence in the Super 8 ahead of Dublin, are running a surplus.
Monaghan, meanwhile, are kicking over more frees than anybody else but Donegal, Kildare and Tyrone have reasons for concern.
As they face Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park on Saturday, Donegal have possibly the most to be alarmed about when teams on average are scoring two points a game more than them from dead balls.
Admittedly, four of Donegal’s five Championship outings have come in Ulster where the intensity has been greater but it is a statistic that runs against them. Roscommon, though, have ranked low on both free-counts. Consider where both teams are coming from and it leans towards being a more open affair than the other three Super 8 matches this weekend.
Kildare conceded nine frees in their Leinster quarter-final loss to Carlow and their discipline has improved considerably through the qualifiers but removing that defeat they are still coughing up five scored frees per match.
Tyrone’s record is slightly better when Peter Harte’s penalty goals in the wins over Carlow and Roscommon are included and Conor McAliskey is almost as prolific as Conor McManus.
However, teams are still scoring almost six points from frees against Mickey Harte’s side and their concession rate is the third worst, only behind Donegal and Kildare.
Dublin will be taking note.
Monaghan’s 5.66 pointed frees per game average is obviously boosted by the long-range marksmanship of Rory Beggan, something Kerry will have to be mindful of in Clones on Sunday.
Put that up against the fact Kerry kicked over just one free to Galway’s three in last Sunday’s Super 8 opener in Croke Park and that Monaghan record looks all the more significant, particularly on their home patch.
Dublin conceded just two frees against Laois in the Leinster final and the first that was awarded against them in the victory over Donegal last Saturday didn’t come until the 57th minute.
However, frees haven’t exactly been liberally given to them and while Dean Rock’s conversion rate isn’t as strong as it was last year the fact is he hasn’t been given as many opportunities to stay sharp.