'Clunky' Dubs home in on more records
Dublin 2-15 Monaghan 1-15
Dublin's 36-match unbeaten run takes them ever deeper into the history files and they are now also closing in on another record, one which has stood for 79 years.
If they beat Kerry next Sunday, they will become the first county since Mayo in 1938 to win five successive league titles, an achievement of truly immense proportions. Mayo went on to win six-in-a-row, an aim which Dublin may have in their sights next year.
While some other counties like to give the impression that the league is no more than a warm-up for the championship, Dublin see it for what it really is: a competition worth winning for a variety of reasons.
If anyone had any doubt about Dublin's relentless determination to remain at the head of every queue for glory, they got an emphatic answer in Clones yesterday when Monaghan surged six points ahead after 48 minutes.
It called for a reaffirmation of Dublin's powers of recovery, which were delivered in the form of a powerful final 22 minutes, when they outscored Monaghan by 2-6 to 0-3.
The goals were scored by Bernard Brogan in the 49th minute and Jack McCaffrey in the 70th minute at a time when the sides were level. Both had come on as subs, as had Michael Darragh Macauley; a triple hit of former Footballers of the Year.
Dublin also called on Diarmuid Connolly, Cian O'Sullivan and Paul Mannion, underlining the vast resources they are able to launch from the bench.
However, Connolly, a half-time replacement for Niall Scully, didn't add much to this particular cause, as he was sent off on a black card in the 47th minute.
Monaghan had lost midfielder Darren Hughes on a black card in the 28th minute, having earlier been forced to replace the injured Colin Walshe.
Their reserve strength isn't nearly as deep as Dublin's, which was significant in a high-tempo game.
After leading 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time, Monaghan's best spell came in the opening 13 minutes of the second-half, when they scored 1-5, with Jack McCarron contributing 1-3.
He finished on 1-9 (1-5 from open play) in a performance which delighted Monaghan supporters in a crowd of 13,227. However, support was patchy, especially once Dublin raised the pressure levels in the final quarter.
"We missed some chances at that stage. We took the wrong option a few times and rushed a few shots, but we were under pressure, which made things all the harder," said Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke.
"Dublin were able to bring on fellas with a lot of experience, lads who are very strong and physically powerful. That made a difference as well, some of our boys were getting a bit tired."
He was still upbeat about Monaghan's overall league campaign, even if there will be a sense of deep regret that they didn't book a place in the final from what looked such a promising position.
Still, they are not the first - and certainly won't be the last - to discover that Dublin's response to a serious problem is to apply corrective procedures in a calm, well-structured manner.
That aspect pleased Jim Gavin, but there were other features of Dublin's performance which he didn't regard as being anywhere near the standards they have set for themselves.
"Monaghan were pulling away, but we stuck at it, kept our two feet firmly on the ground, worked our way back into the game and got a great goal and pushed on," said Gavin.
Earlier, he had seen a different side which didn't enamour him.
"We gave an awful lot of ball away, turned an awful lot of ball over and had some poor shot selection," he said.
On the broader question of what Dublin had taken from the league so far, he didn't talk of unbeaten records or a possible five-in-a-row, instead concentrating on what lay ahead.
"I would take out of it that we've got a lot of work to do. I think our performances through those seven games have been clunky. We're looking for that consistency of performance and we haven't got it yet. We'll keep searching for it," he said.
An opportunity will arise next Sunday when Dublin play Kerry, in a game which will have added intrigue after their crunching encounter in Tralee just over two weeks ago.
Can we expect more of the same?
"I can't speak for Kerry. There was a lot of off-the-ball activity in that game. All I can speak for is how Dublin approach the game and we'll continue to play our traditional style of football," said Gavin.
Monaghan used a fairly open brand for long periods yesterday, which worked pretty well too. Unfortunately for them, their concentration appeared to sag after they opened the six-point lead, allowing Dublin to edge their way back.
Ciarán Kilkenny was given far too much room, particularly in the build-up for Dublin's first goal, and later on there were several times when Monaghan players lost possession as they drove forward.
Nonetheless, they can take lots of encouragement from the league, as they missed out on a place in the final on scoring difference only.
"I'm very proud of the boys. Our playing resources would be a lot smaller than many other counties and to be fair the boys put in a great shift in this league. Our first priority was to stay in Division 1 and we did that fairly comfortably, so overall it has been a good campaign," said O'Rourke.
Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-5 (5f), B Brogan 1-1, J McCaffrey 1-0, P Andrews, J McCarthy C Reddin 0-2 each, C Kilkenny, B Fenton, P McMahon 0-1 each.
Monaghan: J McCarron 1-9 (4f), K Hughes 0-2, K O'Connell, O Duffy, C McManus (f), F Kelly 0-1 each.
Dublin: S Cluxton 7; M Fitzsimons 6, D Byrne 5, P McMahon 6; J McCarthy 8, C Reddin 7, E Lowndes 7; B Fenton 7, C Kilkenny 8; P Flynn 6, M McManamon 6, N Scully 5; D Rock 7, P Andrews 7, C McHugh 5. Subs: B Brogan 7 for McHugh (34),D Connolly 5 for Scully (ht), J McCaffrey 8 for Reddin (41), P Mannion 6 for McManamon (47), C O'Sullivan 6 for Connolly (49 b/c), MD Macauley for Flynn (65).
Monaghan: R Beggan 6; F Kelly 6, R Wylie 7, D Wylie 7; K O'Connell 8, V Corey 6, C Walsh 6; D Hughes 6, K Hughes 7; G Doogan 5, S Carey 5, D Ward 6; O Duffy 6, J McCarron 9, C McManus 6.
Subs: N McAdam 7 for Walshe (20), K Duffy 7 for D Hughes (28 b/c), D Malone 6 for Duffy (54), T Kerr 6 for Ward (58), C McCarthy for Doogan (67).
Ref - J McQuillan (Cavan)