Monaghan didn't put up much of a fight against Dublin, admits Malachy O'Rourke
Dublin 1-19 Monaghan 0-12
Malachy O'Rourke was never in any doubt that his Monaghan side would find a treble-seeking Dublin outfit a formidable barrier in this rather tame All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park.
What he had not bargained for, though, was the measure to which his side contributed to their own downfall.
"We wanted to make sure we set ourselves up well because we've seen Dublin get early goals and end games early. We never really got that and that's the most disappointing thing - we never really challenged them," admitted a subdued O'Rourke afterwards.
"We had a lot of possession but had a lot of turnovers, I think it was 15, and our choice of play and execution were off."
It was a frank admission of his team's frailties in a match in which the Dubs' incisions were clinical, emphatic and, for the most part, unanswerable.
The reigning champions were polished, certain and on occasions did not have to dig too deeply into their laden locker to see off an Oriel outfit that toiled diligently but lacked the subtlety, craft and poise of their opponents.
Leading at one stage by 0-9 to 0-1, there was never a real threat that Jim Gavin's side would be reined in and when top scorer Dean Rock touched home the only goal of the game in the 40th minute, the match as a contest was done and dusted.
Monaghan talisman Conor McManus was held scoreless from play, the Hughes brothers Darren and Kieran played second fiddle at midfield and their defence was stretched far too often by an enterprising Dubs attack in which the strings were pulled by Ciaran Kilkenny.
Even without a stellar input from whizzkid Con O'Callaghan and allowing for the fact that they spent the greater part of the game in a low gear, Dublin's mastery of the proceedings was unquestioned.
While the accurate Rock was top scorer with 1-7 at one end of the pitch, Cian O'Sullivan and Philly McMahon formed an indomitable defensive tower at the other end, restricting the Monaghan attack for the most part - although Conor McCarthy again impressed from the substitutes bench by grabbing three points.
Dublin, too, underlined their considerable strength on the bench again and it is testimony to the frugal nature of the side that the Monaghan full-forward line, which had reaped a generous harvest in the league, was held to just one point from play in the game.
Dublin's sights are now firmly set on their forthcoming All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone, a match which has box office written all over it.
And with manager Gavin unsurprisingly having generous selection options available to him, it is now certain that competition for starting places will be even more keen.
Last year, Tyrone were devastated when they lost to Mayo at the quarter-final stage but Mickey Harte has already made it clear that his current side are on a mission.
Indeed, there are those who suggest that their meeting with the Dubs will be the All-Ireland final in all but name.
Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, C O'Sullivan, M Fitzsimons; J Cooper, J Small 0-1, E Lowndes; B Fenton, J McCarthy 0-1; C Kilkenny, C O'Callaghan 0-1, J McCaffrey 0-1; P Mannion 0-3, P Andrews 0-3, D Rock 1-7 (0-6f, 0-1 '45). Subs: B Brogan for Lowndes (41), D Daly for Small (50), P Flynn 0-1 for McCarthy (50), E O'Gara 0-1 for Andrews (54), M D Macauley for Kilkenny (57), D Byrne for Cooper (60)
Monaghan: R Beggan 0-1 (f), F Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie; C Walshe 0-1, K Duffy, K O'Connell 0-1; K Hughes, D Hughes 0-1; G Doogan, D Ward, S Carey; R McAnespie 0-1, J McCarron, C McManus 0-4 (4f). Subs: C McCarthy 0-3 for Doogan (35), O Duffy for Ward (h-t), D Mone for O'Connell (43), V Corey for R Wylie (43), D Malone for Carey (55), N McAdam for D Hughes (62)
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).