Monaghan are only edged out by single point against Dubs
Dublin 0-17 Monaghan 0-16
It's a sign of the times that a team walks away from Croke Park with congratulations ringing in their ears for losing narrowly to Dublin.
A battling defeat was the dubious keepsake that Monaghan took away from their Allianz league semi-final tie.
Few teams come to Croke Park anymore and beat Dublin and in Monaghan's case there was plenty of reason to expect serious capital punishment.
They lost to Dublin by 17 points when they last played at HQ and went down by double digits when the sides met a week earlier in the final round of the league.
Just as significantly, Monaghan spent five days at a training camp between the two games and only returned last Friday.
But talk of heavy legs and big white buses being parked proved to be unfounded. Monaghan may have been a little lethargic and defensive early on when they slipped to a two-point interval deficit.
But when they found their stride in the second-half they were the better side and were good value for at least a draw.
They had the best player on the pitch in Conor McManus who shot eight points.
Four Dublin points in a row between the 61st and 67th minutes proved decisive in the end.
"Going into the game with Dublin last week, we had already preserved our position in Division 1 and maybe we didn't go in with the same hunger," said Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke.
"Dublin were up for it from the word go last week. Today, we wanted to get to the pitch of the game earlier, we wanted to make sure it didn't get away from us.
"We were more competitive all through and that's what we wanted to do. I think we got that. I'm still disappointed with a lot of aspects of our play and we know we can do better. But, overall, the league has been fairly good for us."
The list of strong performers for Monaghan was lengthy. Aside from McManus, Rory Beggan kept a clean sheet and boomed over a free from over 60 yards.
Ryan Wylie was immense in defence while Neil McAdam did a solid job in the middle.
But defeat was still Monaghan's lot and they will kick themselves for not seizing the opportunity.
They fought back from 0-9 to 0-7 down at half-time and were level at 0-13 apiece by the 53rd minute.
They were level again at 0-14 apiece with just six minutes remaining but those four Dublin scores proved the decisive scores.
Dublin were far from impressive and were lucky to dig this one out. Clerkin's third point late on was followed by a converted McManus free, leaving just one it. There was a tense moment right at the death when McManus got a flick to a long ball in but couldn't direct it goal wards.
Dublin scorers: J McCaffrey (0-1), P McMahon (0-2), D Bastick (0-1), P Flynn (0-1), B Fenton (0-2), K McManamon (0-2), D Rock (0-7, 6f, 1 45). Subs: E O Conghaile (0-1) for Bastick (53).
Monaghan: R Beggan (0-1, 1f), N McAdam (0-1), P Finlay (0-1, 1f), K Hughes (0-2), C McManus (0-8, 3f). Subs: D Clerkin (0-3) for Kerr (h/t).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).