It is the first ever study into player proximity in Gaelic football. Using data from GNSS worn by players, the numbers were taken from four intercounty football matches and five county training sessions in 2019 and 2020. Drawing an imaginary two-metre circle around the feet of each player, it measured the amount and duration of incursions into that circle by other players. It doesn’t account for time in dressingrooms or pre-game warm-ups
The average of 2.5 seconds per incursion is lower than their finding for soccer, which was just 3.3 seconds. They found also that the number of incursions is significantly lower – an average of 539 times per game in Gaelic football as opposed to closer to 2,000 in soccer.
The study draws a distinction between training and matches. The numbers for training are significantly higher than in matches, something both easily explained and not at all difficult to change. As former Cavan footballer and head of sports science at Statsports, Barry Watters, explains, it’s much easier to build space into training sessions where you are in control of what happens than it is in matches where you aren’t.