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Dub stars do just enough to beat Monaghan

Shane Stapleton reports on the All-Ireland senior football semi-final clash of Monaghan v Dublin at Croke Park.

Dublin 1-17 Monaghan 0-13 All-Ireland SFC semi-final
Dublin had never lost three All-Ireland semi-finals in a row, but were made to work for this victory over Monaghan.

It puts the capital back in an All-Ireland final for the first time since late 2020, when Dessie Farrell claimed his sole All-Ireland thus far at an empty Croke Park.

That was the final part of the six-in-a-row and little of this performance looked related to that all-conquering iteration of the Dubs.

Some of the men who dominated that era gave much quieter performances against the Farney County but provided enough moments to see their team over the line.

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Brian Fenton hit two brilliant points inside the final ten minutes after the visitors had drawn level, James McCarthy made those trademark bursts, while Con O’Callaghan found Dean Rock with a lovely crossfield kickpass for the game-breaking goal.

Just as against Mayo, Dublin struggled in the first half as Monaghan pressed them hard and, in truth, the Ulster side left their hopes behind during that period.

A goal chance was butchered by Ryan McAnespie on 18 minutes while Conor McCarthy also blasted a ball off the upright, and other low-percentage shots went badly wide.

Leaving Jack McCarron on the bench was a gamble that did not pay off as he may well have converted where others failed.

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Mick Fitzsimons won the battle with Conor McManus in the first half, though the Clontibret man edged it thereafter, and the Farney unfortunately didn’t have the bench to keep their bid alive.

Dublin played with five inside forwards in their attack and it led to a lack of balance. The one half-forward, Niall Scully, was black-carded after 16 minutes and was subbed just after coming back on for Ciaran Kilkenny.

Dublin’s expected third-quarter takeover never materialised but their fierce tackling put them 0-9 to 0-8 ahead when Dessie Ward was spoiled by Kilkenny and Brian Howard, with the excellent Cormac Costello scoring moments later.

Referee Sean Hurson penalised Paddy Small for a thrown ball and O’Callaghan for steps as Monaghan got out alive a couple of times, but on 57 minutes there was an incident that is sure to have frustrated Vinny Corey.

A ball was played into Lee Gannon, who put his hand up for a mark but still turned Stephen O’Hanlon to fist the ball over from play.

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McManus exploded to life to scroe two in a row — from play and a mark — around the hour mark before Fenton and Rock got the key scores to take their side over the line.

A gallant display by Monaghan but 1930 remains their sole appearance on the biggest day.

Eight scorers for Dublin, a 75% scoring rate, and several stars one game away from nine All-Ireland titles.

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