Gavin's Dublin hotshots hold no fears for Monaghan
JIM GAVIN favourably name-checked virtually every player on the Monaghan team during Thursday's press briefing, but his lavish praise hasn't altered the reality that Dublin go into this evening's clash in Croke Park (6.0) as 1/20 favourites to beat the Ulster runners-up.
It makes the All-Ireland champions one of the hottest quarter-final fancies since the new championship system was introduced in 2001 and is based on their excellence since the start of last year, which has yielded one All-Ireland, two Leinster and two league titles.
Dublin have lost only three of 27 league and championship performances in that period.
Despite the overwhelming odds against Monaghan, in what will be their first championship clash with Dublin for 91 years, they are upbeat about the big challenge.
"Everyone wants to play the Dubs in Croke Park. Some people could say you might fear them but, at the end of the day, it's 15 v 15. We'll focus on our own game," said full-forward Chris McGuinness .
The winners will play the winners of Armagh v Donegal, which precedes the Dublin-Monaghan game at 4.0, in the semi-final on August 31. Donegal are bidding to reach the semi-final for the third time in four seasons while Armagh last got there in 2005.
Donegal are firm favourites but Armagh will be encouraged by their impressive run through the qualifiers, where they beat Tyrone, Roscommon and Meath.
They will also be buoyed by the memory of three championship wins over Donegal in Croke Park in the 2003 All-Ireland semi-final and the 2004-06 Ulster finals. Both games are on Sky Sports.
The focus will switch to hurling tomorrow when Kilkenny and Limerick clash in the All-Ireland semi-final (3.30).
Kilkenny will be bidding to reach the final for the 14th time in 17 seasons while Limerick were last there in 2007. The game will be live on RTE.