Dublin will face Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final at the end of August – with major question marks remaining over Pat Gilroy’s side.
The Dubs booked their place in the last four with a 1-12 to 0-12 win over Laois in the second of Saturday night’s two quarter-finals at Croke Park.
Mayo were far more convincing winners as they saw off Down by 3-18 to 2-9 in the opening game.
Blues boss Gilroy admitted afterwards that he is concerned by the current poor form of his All-Ireland champions as they withstood a late Laois rally but kicked 13 wides in total.
Gilroy said: “We were expecting a really, really tough game here today.
“Before the game we said if we could win by two or three points we would be delighted.
“We expected Laois to close down a lot of the space which they did, they tackled very hard and we probably created a lot of good chances in the first half, if we had taken them we would have been a lot more comfortable.
“We didn’t take them and we had to just dig out the game.”
Gilroy also agreed that his team will need to improve before the Mayo semi.
He added: “We’d too many misses and were not as good going forward. They’re the best opposition we’ve met, they were very well organised and we just didn’t deal with it, we’ve a serious amount of work to do to get it right and it’s not where we want to be in terms of performance.”
Mayo were never in trouble against Down but manager James Horan was concerned by a knee injury which is likely to keep captain Andy Moran out of the semi-final.
Horan said: “Andy is the heartbeat and soul of the team, and he was playing great stuff so yes of course it’s a disappointment.
“But Andy will be the first to say that it’s going to be an opportunity for someone else. When we get the diagnosis we’ll take it from there, but there’ll be an opportunity for someone else to slip in there and we’re lucky that we have a strong panel and some good young players coming through - so we have to look at it that way.
“Of course it’s disappointing for Andy. After the work he put in after a broken leg in the Aussie Rules trials last year, he’s done everything humanly possible to get back. He was in great shape so it’s just very unfortunate from that point of view.”
Like Gilroy, Horan will demand more of his team in the semi-final.
He said: “There were parts of the performance that were pleasing, and there were parts of it that weren’t. We still didn’t play like we can, but we showed flashes of it.
“We won the game and we’ve improved on the Connacht final, so we will be looking to do the same again for the next game. That’s where it is.”