Dublin take on Monaghan in the final All-Ireland quarter-final at the weekend and, going by the form book, look set to secure a place in the last four.
Monaghan have recovered well from a defeat to Down by beating Wexford, Carlow and the Mourne County in their rematch last weekend. Over this trio of wins, the Farney are playing well.
Unfortunately, they are not playing anywhere near the level of the defending champions.
This is a Dublin team who have blasted all before them in Leinster over the last seven years, and have only fallen to the best teams in the nation since the start of the decade.
Cork (who went on to win Sam that year), Mayo and Donegal are the only teams to have beaten the Dubs in the championship since 2010, with the men from the capital winning four All-Ireland titles in this time.
They are in the conversation of who is the greatest team of all time – although there are a few Kerry sides who won’t take kindly to that.
This is the task that is in front of Monaghan on Saturday. The sheer level of consistency that the Dubs have shown over the last seven years proves that they take no game lightly – while it is a cliché – they take it one game at a time. That is what makes them so hard to beat.
In most people’s eyes, we are looking at a Tyrone vs Dublin semi-final. And, with both counties on the card in Croker on Saturday, the pair will be looking to show each other – and the country -what they are capable of.
Without overlooking Monaghan, Dublin will be looking to put in a performance that puts them as firm favourites to retain Sam.
Solid at the back
After conceding a total of just 0-17 in their first two games, Kildare scored 1-17 against the champions in the Leinster final.
However, it is unusual for this solid defence to concede a big score. In eleven league and championship games to date, on only three occasion have the Dubs conceded a total greater than 14 points.
That said, one of those games was against Monaghan – who Dublin beat with a late rally in the NFL.
Dublin know this is a strong Monaghan attack, but expect Jim Gavin’s troops to be ready – and to have a game-plan to nullify the threat.
Blitz the opposition
Dublin blitzed Kildare with two early goals in the Leinster final. While the Lilywhites battled admirably, there was only ever going to be one winner after this.
The champions will look at how Down’s Connaire Harrison plagued the Farney backs and they will spot a weakness. Monaghan rectified this, however, with respect to Down, Dublin have six Harrisons in their side.
If this Dublin attack click, even if only for a 10-minute spell, they can rack up a big score in no time – and leave Monaghan wondering what hit them.
Con O’Callaghan was superb against Kildare and with Paul Mannion, Paddy Andrews and Dean Rock in the full-forward line, the Dubs will put up a big score.
Stephen Cluxton’s kick-outs are a huge part of the Jim Gavin game-plan. However, after seeing Kerry pushing up on kick-outs to great effect last weekend, expect Monaghan to try something similar – even if it is only for a 10-15 minute period.
This will be a good test of the Dubs should this occur and will give their ball-winners in midfield a chance to show what they can do.
With Brian Fenton and James McCarthy at midfield and the likes of Jack McCaffrey in the half-back line, if Cluxton has to go longer from the tee, this should be no issue.
If all this comes to fruition, Dublin will be comfortable winners on Saturday, no question. However, if they do preform at their brilliant best, it is more than Monaghan who will be concerned.
Kerry showed their worth last weekend – now it’s Dublin’s turn to send a message to the remaining teams in the hunt for All-Ireland glory.
Joel Slattery, Pundit Arena
Check out the latest episode of The 16th Man as we look ahead to all the weekend’s action.