Classy Dublin sink Monaghan and cruise into last four
What do you do when you are so far out in front of all the rest? Before Saturday nights' game, Dublin had won their two previous games by 16 points. This time they went to 17 and when you try to pierce or get under the skin of this Dublin team, through their figurehead, your needle is blunted by the cold, methodical outlook of Dublin manager Jim Gavin.
Monaghan simply dissolved at the 25-minute mark here.
From a long Monaghan kickout Nicky Devereux won the break, got it forward to Diarmuid Connolly who evaded Kieran Duffy and stroked it into the net beyond the despairing slide of Ryan Wylie.
Two minutes later James McCarthy ploughed through two challenges and appeared to take several more steps than the allotted four, before slipping to Bernard Brogan, who put it between the legs of goalkeeper Rory Beggan.
Up until that point it looked as if Monaghan's deep-lying defence was going to present a puzzle. But Dublin went on from this seven point lead to outscore Monaghan 18-8 in points throughout the rest of the game.
Facile, once again.
Only you won't hear Gavin say that, not even when you offer it to him on a plate.
"We just view it as a win," he said. "There was a job to be done today by the team and we are thankful they did that and applied themselves in the right way. The success they had today was based on hard work and that's what they demonstrated.
"There are lots of tired minds and tired bodies in that Dublin dressing-room. We knew going into the game we would have to produce a performance to beat a Monaghan side that continues to be improving as well."
This game was thought by many to be an ideal first-draft for Dublin of what might happen in a potential All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal. Dublin's relentless hunger for scores meant they could relax and put their own defensive system back into the box and keep it for Donegal as they fanned out in a more orthodox formation.
Malachy O'Rourke was trying not to let this defeat define another season that wasn't without its gains, but ultimately never reached the heights of last year.
"When we sat down to plan maybe we looked at Dublin and felt that the best way was to confine the space that they were going to operate in," he said.
"For the first 20 minutes or so that worked very well, we would have liked to have scored more up the other end of the field but I suppose we were frustrating Dublin fairly well and if we hadn't conceded the goals we would have got to half time with a foothold in the game to push on.
"But look, that's what Dublin do, they got the first goal, very soon after that they got another and it left us chasing the game, which is a very difficult thing to do against a top-class team like Dublin."
While conceding that the extra-time battle last week against Kildare might have taken more out of them than they had bargained for, O'Rourke continued: "We came in there today, knowing it was going to be a massive challenge for us, the ultimate test for us, but we wanted that, we wanted to see how we would deal with that."
When asked if he would be back next year he commented, "I don't even know what my term was, whether it's a two- year term, a three-year term, whatever else.
"If I am wanted back it would be very hard to leave a group like that because I do feel we have made an awful lot of progress over the last two years."
Garlands continue to be flung at the feet of this Dublin team for the gifts they bestow upon the game. The semi-final will be crudely billed as a battle between Dublin skill and Donegal system, but Dublin's movements are every bit as polished as Donegal's.
In Gavin, Dublin have a man who keeps them rooted in reality, as witnessed by his ruthless substitution of Kevin McManamon on 43 minutes.
In summing up, Gavin praised the blue-collar approach of the Blues.
"They know they're in a very privileged position to represent Dublin and with that comes a responsibility to try and get a performance. Internally, that's what they can control. I see them hold themselves accountable. They have great motivation and that's what they go after."
MONAGHAN: R Beggan 0-1, 1x45; R Wylie, D Wylie, C Walshe; V Corey, D Mone, F Kelly; D Clerkin 0-2, D Hughes; K Duffy, S Gollogly, K Hughes 0-2, 2f; P Donaghy, C McGuinness, C McManus 0-6, 4f. Subs: P Finlay for Donaghy (h-time), J McCarron for McGuinness (41m), G Doogan for Gollogly (49m), C Boyle for Duffy, O Duffy for Clerkin (59m), C Galligan for Kelly (67m)
Yellow cards: McManus (36m), Clerkin (40m), Mone (47m)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: 0
DUBLIN: S Cluxton 0-1, 1x45; M Fitzsimons, R O'Carroll, P McMahon; J McCarthy, J Cooper 0-1, N Devereux; MD Macauley, C O'Sullivan; P Flynn 0-2, K McManamon 0-1, D Connolly 1-2; A Brogan 0-3, E O'Gara 0-2, B Brogan 1-7, 6f. Subs: C Costello 0-1, for McManamon (43m), D Rock 0-2, for O'Sullivan (47m), J McCaffrey for Cooper (51m), P Andrews for O'Gara (53m), D Daly for McMahon (58m), P Mannion for A Brogan (64m)
Yellow cards: O'Gara (3m), McMahon (54m)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: 0
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)