Blue tide rising as Gavin confirms return of Brogan
Dublin 1-22 Monaghan 1-11: Allianz NFL Division 1
Monaghan fans left Clones yesterday unsure whether to laugh or cry.
Results elsewhere meant they still made the Division One semi-finals which should have been cause for great cheer but any delight was tempered by the fact that it is Dublin they'll face again in the final four next weekend.
Their satisfaction at beating Kerry a week earlier was quickly dissipated by this spanking and even manager Malachy O'Rourke admitted he was leaving with mixed emotions.
A late consolation goal from Darren Hughes, after Thomas Kerr's shot came off the cross-bar, actually spared their blushes slightly but this was almost on a par with the trouncing they received at the Blues' hands in last year's All-Ireland quarter-finals.
They trailed by seven at half-time (0-5 to 1-9) and by 15 points in the third quarter when Dublin were already liberally running their subs.
And the difference in the teams' strength in depth was only magnified further when Dublin boss Jim Gavin revealed afterwards that Alan Brogan (33) will make his long-awaited return to the county squad in the coming week.
The reigning two in-a-row league champions, who last played in Clones in 2011, looked intent on leaving their mark right from the outset.
They may have struggled last week to break down Derry's massed defence in a game that had the purists gnashing their teeth but 18 scores from play yesterday, from 11 different scorers, was an answer those who insist Gaelic football's end is nigh.
Asked if some of the reaction after the Derry game was a little over the top Dublin manager Jim Gavin said: "Yes, I wouldn't buy into some of the comments that were made on the game - the conditions were just very difficult with a strong wind as well, that was a major contributory factor.
"Teams play within the rules and we've always said there's no right or wrong way to play Gaelic football," he added. "That's the beauty of it. We've no offside rule so players can play where they want."
At times yesterday Monaghan must have wished Congress had introduced one, as they faced wave after wave of a blue tide that destroyed them.
Throw-in was delayed by 10 minutes to allow the 10,066 crowd get in and within four minutes Monaghan's usually dependent blanket defence was torn to shreds and they were trailing by five after Jack McCaffrey combined with Dean Rock to lay on a goal chance that was well taken by Raheny's impressive league debutant Brian Fenton.
Within minutes Rory O'Carroll needed to make a vital interception at the other end when Vinny Corey was bearing down on Stephen Cluxton. Monaghan were upset that Eoin Culligan escaped a card of any colour when he blatantly took out Owen Duffy after 20 minutes when he was in a great position.
Their manager bit his lip when questioned about the incident afterwards but was clearly unhappy.
Within minutes Dublin's management had whipped Culligan off and his replacement - Philly McMahon - proved to be as useful in attack as he did in defence, threading through some brilliant passes to their front-line and scoring twice while also curbing Owen Duffy.
The key to beating a blanket defence is hitting it with fast counter-attacks and angles of running and Dublin managed to do that in great style, showing a speed of movement and had that left Monaghan grasping at shadows at times.
Their cause wasn't helped by losing Dessie Mone to a black card before half-time. But Darren Hughes and Karl O'Connell tried tirelessly to lift them all afternoon, Rory Beggan made one great early save from Paul Flynn and Ryan Wylie did better than his brother Drew when he was switched onto Bernard Brogan, but the depth that Dublin could call on was underlined by six of their scores coming from subs.
At times they too had 13 men behind the ball with players like Diarmuid Connolly, Kevin MacManamon and Fenton doing great work at either end of the field, but the difference was their speedy transitions, with Jack McCaffrey and James McCarthy constantly pushing them forward.
Dublin's defensive work-rate kept Monaghan scoreless for 24 minutes of the second half.
Conor McManus and Kieran Hughes were reduced to taking some terrible pot-shots from distance. In contrast, Dublin's accuracy was unerring and they had no second-half wides compared to Monaghan's tally of seven.
Asked about crowding their own defence Gavin said: "They were just following their men. If Monaghan players attack they have to be followed. You saw in the last eight minutes where we lost a little bit of concentration that we conceded 1-3."
"It's a reality check," muttered one dejected Monaghan fan at the exits and their manager O'Rourke agreed.
He admitted that after securing their Division One status against Kerry a week earlier they maybe, subconsciously, took their foot off the pedal.
"If Dublin get that extra edge on you, they will punish you," he said. "They were ruthless today and we were always chasing the game. "
Man of the Match : Jack McCaffrey (Dublin)
Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-6 (5f), B Fenton 1-1, P Flynn, D Connolly, K McManamon, B Brogan, T Brady and P McMahon 0-2 each, J Cooper, D Byrne and E O'Conghaile 0-1 each. Monaghan: D Hughes 1-0, O Duffy 0-2, C McManus 0-2(2f), R Beggan 0-2 (1f, 1'45), R McAnespie, T Kerr, S Carey, K Hughes 0-1 each, P Finlay 0-1(f).
Dublin - S Cluxton 8; J Cooper 8, R O'Carroll 8, E Culligan 6; J McCarthy 8, J Small 6, J McCaffrey 8; MD MacAuley 6 D Bastick 6; P Flynn 8, D Connolly 8, B Fenton 8; K McManamon 7, D Rock 6, B Brogan 7. Subs - P McMahon 8 for Culligan (21), E O Conghaile 5 for MacAuley (42), C Kilkenny 6 for McManamon (49), T Brady 8 for Bastick (52), D Byrne 7 for O'Conghaile (BC, 56), N Devereux 6 for Cooper (56).
Monaghan -R Beggan 7; D Wylie 6, K Duffy 6, R Wylie 7; K O'Connell 7, V Corey 6, F Kelly 5; N McAdam 5, D Hughes 7; D Malone 7, P Finlay 6, D Mone 5; O Duffy 8, K Hughes 6, C McManus 6. Subs - P McKenna 6 for Mone (BC, 32), D Clerkin 6 for McAdam (43), R McAnespie 7 for Finlay (43), P McGuigan 6 for D Wylie (49), T Kerr 7 for Malone (49), S Carey 5 for K Hughes (BC, 65).
Ref - M Deegan (Laois).