A great second half comeback from Dublin extended their League and Championship unbeaten run to 36 games and secured a place in the Allianz League Division 1 Final for the fifth year in a row.
But Monaghan and in particular star of the game Jack McCarron, gave Dublin the fright of their lives on Sunday afternoon, but Jim Gavin’s men once again showed plenty of character, grit and determination to turnaround a six point deficit midway through the second half to win by three.
Bernard Brogan started the fight back as the game approached the midway point of the second half with a superbly taken goal and Jack McCaffrey sent the Dubs through to the final with a brilliant finish to the back of the net in injury time.
Monaghan were certainly up for the game today and in Jack McCarron had a player that gave the Dublin defence plenty of headaches today.
McCarron grabbed the first point of the game in the third minute. That was cancelled two minutes later with a good point from Dublin midfielder Ciaran Reddin.
Monaghan made them pay with three points in a row, two from open play scored by Karl O’Connell and Kieran Hughes and the other point came from a Jack McCarron free.
After a sixteen minute barren scoring spell for Dublin, Brian Fenton strode forward from midfield to clip over a nice point. That was quickly followed by a Dean Rock free and an excellent Paddy Andrews point to bring the sides level again.
The first controversial call of the day arrived in the 22nd minute when a 45′ from Dean Rock looked like it had gone over the bar but the umpires waved it wide to howls of derision from the supporters behind the goal.
Monaghan went back in front two minutes later thanks to another well struck Jack McCarron free. The Farney County were dealt a blow six minutes from half time when midfielder Darren Hughes was black carded for a trip on Brian Fenton.
Dean Rock knocked over the resultant free but Dublin were still struggling to break the Monaghan defence down and create scoring chances which prompted Gavin to make his first change of the day as he brought on Bernard Brogan in place of Conor McHugh.
McCarron though was still causing the sky blues defence plenty of problems and he scored another fine point from play with four minutes to go to the break. Dublin responded with an excellent point from James McCarthy who used his pace and power to great effect to create space for his shot and bring the sides level once again.
But it was left to the man of match McCarron to hit the last score before the short whistle from a free to leave the score at half time 0-07 to 0-06 in his teams favour.
Gavin made a change for the second half bringing on Diarmuid Connolly for Niall Scully, but it was to be a short appearance for the St Vincent’s man as he was black carded 14 minutes later and was replaced by Cian O’Sullivan.
But Dublin found themselves five points adrift in as many minutes, a point from Owen Duffy was followed by a McCarron free and moments later the same two players combined and McCarron hit a powerful finish to the back of the net.
A Dean Rock free reduced the deficit but a free from Conor McManus and another excellent point from Jack McCarron put six between the sides and Dublin’s unbeaten record looked in real danger of been broken.
Rock and McCarron swapped points but in the 49th minute Ciarán Kilkenny and Paul Mannion linked up and put Bernard Brogan through to hit the ball past the keeper into the bottom corner of the net.
A minute later Connolly was given his marching orders on a black card but Dublin now had the bit between their teeth and Ciarán Kilkenny hit a fine point over the black spot and there was just the bare minimum between the sides a minute later when James McCarthy grab his second point of the game.
With Monaghan looking a little out on their feet they gave it one last push and two excellent points from Hughes and McCarron put them three in front with 12 minutes to play.
The Dublin defence though were now turning the ball over with regularity giving them a good attacking platform and points from Paddy Andrews and Philly McMahon and a Dean Rock free made it a level game heading down the home straight.
It looked like the game might just end in a draw as the game headed into injury time, but Jack McCaffrey used his pace to evade two tackles, played a quick one two with James McCarthy and buried the ball to the back of the net and Dublin led by three.
It was the firs time Dublin had led throughout the match and it all but sucked the life out of Malachy O’Rourke’s side. Fintan Kelly did grab a point for them in the 72nd minute, but seconds later Dublin worked the ball upfield and Bernard Brogan sealed the win with a super point.
Dublin will now play Kerry in the League Final next Sunday at 4pm. But there is plenty of work to do for Gavin and his squad this week in training as a repeat of today’s performance next weekend will not suffice against Kerry.
Jack McCarron 1-09 (4f)
Kieran Hughes 0-02
Karl O’Connell 0-01
Conor McManus 0-01 (1f)
Fintan Kelly 0-01
Owen Duffy 0-01
Dean Rock 0-05 (5f)
Bernard Brogan 1-01
Jack McCaffrey 1-00
James McCarthy 0-02
Paddy Andrews 0-02
Ciarán Reddin 0-02
Brian Fenton 0-01
Philip McMahon 0-01
Ciarán Kilkenny 0-01
1. Rory Beggan
2. Fintan Kelly
3. Drew Wylie
4. Ryan Wylie
5. Dessie Ward
7. Karl O’Connell
19. Vincent Corey
26. Colin Walshe
8. Darren Hughes
9. Kieran Hughes
12. Gavin Doogan
11. Shane Carey
13. Owen Duffy
14. Jack McCarron
15. Conor McManus
6. Neil McAdam for 26. Colin Walshe (18th Min)
23. Kieran Duffy for 8. Darren Hughes (black card, 30th Min)
18. Dermot Malone for 13. Owen Duffy (53rd Min)
22. Thomas Kerr for 5. Dessie Ward (58th Min)
24. Conor McCarthy for 12. Gavin Doogan (67th Min).
1. Stephen Cluxton
2. Philip McMahon
3. Michael Fitzsimons
4. David Byrne
5. James McCarthy
7. Eric Lowndes
19. Ciarán Kilkenny
8. Brian Fenton
9. Ciarán Reddin
10. Paul Flynn
11. Kevin McManamon
12. Niall Scully
13. Dean Rock
14. Paddy Andrews
24. Conor McHugh
15.Bernard Brogan for 24. Conor McHugh (34th Min)
23. Diarmuid Connolly for 12. Niall Scully (H/T)
22. Jack McCaffrey for 9. Ciaran Reddin (41st Min)
21. Paul Mannion for 11. Kevin McManamon (46th Min)
6. Cian O’Sullivan for 23. Diarmuid Connolly (black card, 50th Min)
20. Michael Darragh MacAuley for 10. Paul Flynn (64th Min).