Dublin 2-17  Mayo 0-11

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Like All-Ireland champions Kerry, Dublin are back in business and back in contention for the Sam Maguire as their second-half demolition of Mayo in Sunday’s sell-out quarterfinal at Croke Park proved.

The free-scoring Dubs made a mockery of Mayo’s own All-Ireland dreams with a Colm Basquel goal, his second of the day, and four unanswered points as they moved into an impressive lead that was never in any danger for the rest of the game.

This new look Championship format was designed to give more teams a say in the All-Ireland race, but few now would bet against Dublin and Kerry playing in the final on the last Sunday in July given they now play Monaghan and Derry respectively in the semis.

For the Dubs it was all a blast from the recent past as Stephen Cluxton kept a 12th consecutive clean sheet, Paul Mannion threw back the years and Jack McCaffrey came on in the second half to the delight of the Hill 16 faithful, fans now believing in Dessie Farrell’s team as real contenders once again. Not that their manager was rushing to agree with them given the tasks still ahead this summer.

“I think we passed the test but that was only the first paper, not even that. I definitely think it’s tough on the teams like Mayo who had the back-to-back games. It was always going to be an outcome where some were getting a rest and some weren’t so that probably impacted Mayo and we need to calibrate our own performance based on that fact as well,” Farrell told the assembled media after this six-point win.

“But definitely there was a lot to be pleased about but I’d urge caution in getting carried away. I just think that was probably a significant factor particularly in the second half for Mayo today.

“I mentioned it before, we have 22 new players who have come into the squad over the last two seasons.  It’s a significant number out of a panel of 38/39 and they’ve found themselves within that group and settled well and have that sense of belonging, which is really important, and with that they’re really driving the competition as well.

“Then the older, mature lads who have come back into the mix. It was trying to get that bond and cohesion together that was always going to be a little bit of a challenge with that type of number and that mix but it’s been good over the last couple of weeks but at the end of the day today only gets us into the hat and gets us out in two weeks’ time again.”

This win went a long way to righting Dublin’s wrongs from a recent semifinal defeat to Mayo, but Farrell insisted afterward that Monaghan will be no pushovers on Saturday, July 15.

He added, “Monaghan knocked us out of Division 1 last year so we know what they’re capable of. They’ll be coming to Croke Park with absolutely nothing to lose.

“I was impressed with them against Armagh on Saturday. They showed great resilience and dug in and ground out that victory when at different stages, you thought Armagh would have kicked on but they weren’t allowed. They showed great tenacity and great heart, they’re going to bring that and more the next day, so we have to get ready.”

For Mayo and their relatively new boss Kevin McStay, it’s back to the drawing board with most of the summer still to be enjoyed after that blistering scoring streak from Dublin on the resumption of Sunday’s activities, having trailed by just a point at the interval.

McStay told RTE Sport, “In the end it’s a big gap, but at halftime it felt we were absolutely where we thought it would be, one up or one down. We got ourselves into a really nice position and had our chances.

“The goal just after halftime, we gave one away that we’d be a bit unhappy with, and then at the other end we missed one. That was a big swing but you couldn’t take anything away from Dublin. They found their championship form in a big way today and we suffered at their hands.

“They were incredibly accurate there for a period, I didn’t think they were going to miss no matter where they fired from in the second half. Well done to Dublin.  They haven’t gone away.”

Even though his team had played against Galway a week earlier, while Dublin rested, McStay offered no excuses for this defeat.

He continued, “Up to halftime we had plenty of energy, we were flying it, and we were in great form and shape at halftime. Just small things went against us in terms of the chances and then Dublin went on a really hot streak and never let up. They really executed some great scores. They’re a very fine team, no question.

“We got a tough lesson today but I’ve to look at this in the overall. It hasn’t been a bad season for us. We’ll take plenty of lessons from it. We had three or four young players in our backline. This will be a great day out for them when they look back at it in 10 years. They’ll learn an awful lot from it.

“That’s the way we have to look at it.  We’re here for a longer haul than just having a crack in one single season. We’ll go back, rest, meet and see what the overall picture is.”

Derry 1-12  Cork 1-8

Ciaran Meenagh would have settled for any win against Cork in Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC quarterfinal at Croke Park, so he wasn’t going to complain about a four-point victory that puts his team into a last-four date with champions Kerry on Sunday, July 16.

A Rory Maguire goal early in the second half gave the Rebels hope, but Derry responded with a Conor Doherty goal of their own to send them into the last four.

“We came here to hopefully win by one point. If we won by more, that was a bonus,” said Meenagh.  “I’m delighted, relieved we won the game against a very tricky Cork outfit, who had momentum behind them.

“We won by four and probably left a fair bit behind us. It was the nature in which we responded to Cork’s goal, in particular, and of them starting much better than us in the game. All things that we had talked about and we planned forensically and so it was in terms of how we delivered.”

Cork will now look to build on their 2023 Championship form in next year’s National Football League according to manager John Cleary who said, “Today was just a bridge too far. You can’t beat coming here year after year, which the top teams have been doing.

“Cork have been out of it there for a number of years. The first thing we need to do is get back into Division 1, which is not easy either because Division 2 is very competitive. You become battle-hardened then.

“The other thing is trying to develop a panel so that you’d have 24 or 25. Unfortunately, we were down maybe three or four players today with injuries, which could have helped us. That’s what we’ve been trying to do, develop a panel.

“But it’s tough, tough stuff. You see from these matches over the weekend that there’s no quarter asked or given. And that’s where we’re trying to get to. Whether we will or not, only time will tell.”

GAA short

Champions Meath must travel to play the Kerry team they beat in last year’s decider when the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship reaches the quarterfinal stage on July 15 and 16. In the other games, Donegal are home to Dublin, Cork travel to Armagh and Galway host Mayo in an all-Connacht quarterfinal.