Ciarán McNulty capped a remarkable Croke Park finale with the winning point as underdogs Monaghan got their Allianz National Football League campaign off to a flier.
In a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, Vinny Corey’s side held their nerve in a terrific second-half with McNulty coming off the bench and registering 1-01 in a memorable cameo.
His first score was a cracking 59th minute goal and his next was the winning point four minutes into stoppage time, a clever breakaway score after Brian Fenton was caught out with a rare mistake in Dublin’s defence.
Jack McCarron scored Monaghan’s first goal and player of the match Stephen O’Hanlon struck Monaghan’s other major in what amounts to a huge for a side widely tipped to battle relegation this season.
Corey was without a large number of key players who are either injured, resting up or retired but it didn’t bother them at Croke Park where a new look side turned in a huge display.
As for Dessie Farrell’s Dublin, they won’t panic with several of their main figures still to return also and they were delighted to welcome back All-Ireland winning captain James McCarthy when he came on in the second-half.
Dublin went with just seven of their starters from last year’s All-Ireland final defeat of Kerry.
David O’Hanlon took over from the absent Stephen Cluxton in goals while Greg McEneaney and Cian Murphy replaced McCarthy and John Small in the half-back line.
Fenton partnered up with Ciaran Kilkenny at midfield while there were starts in attack for Ross McGarry and Lorcan O’Dell.
Paul Mannion wasn’t listed among the substitutes while there was no Brian Howard either.
But with 27 different players putting up their hands in the O’Byrne Cup for further inclusion, Farrell had plenty of options.
Killian McGinnis and Liam Smith both featured in Dublin’s run to the O’Byrne Cup final and made the 26 this time.
There was a spot on the bench for talented full-back Theo Clancy from Kilmacud Crokes too.
Monaghan, meanwhile, hit the pitch with a patched up side that was missing ultra experienced stars like Darren Hughes, Kieran Hughes, Conor McCarthy, Conor McManus, Rory Beggan, Conor Boyle, Shane Carey and Karl Gallagher.
McManus, Darren Hughes, McCarthy and Beggan are still part of the panel – presuming Beggan doesn’t get signed up as NFL kicker in the coming months – though Gallagher has left for the AFL while Kieran Hughes, Carey and Boyle aren’t involved this year.
Darren McDonnell replaced Beggan in goals, Kevin Loughran started at wing-back while Joel Wilson partnered up with Gary Mohan at midfield. Michael Hamill got the nod in the half-forward line with Jason Irwin ahead of him.
Dublin got on top quickly in scoring terms, running up a 1-4 to 0-2 lead after 25 minutes.
That was partly because of their slick play in attack with their opening score an expertly taken goal from Cormac Costello in the fourth minute.
O’Dell rejected the option of an advanced mark after catching a long delivery and instead played in Costello who finished smartly to the net.
There were points too from rookie Luke Breathnach and free-taker Costello.
But Dublin’s big lead was also down to Monaghan’s poor shooting at the other end.
In the first-half alone the Farney dropped five score attempts short, hit the post with another point attempt and struck three wides.
They finally tuned in their radar in the run up to half-time and pulled back two goals to level a game they looked destined to trail in.
McCarron slid home the first goal from the penalty spot after a foul by Cian Murphy on the hard running Hamill.
Then O’Hanlon hammered home a stunning second after great work by Micheal Bannigan who beat McCaffrey in a straight head to head on the right wing.
From nowhere Monaghan were suddenly level at the break 2-2 to 1-5 and they were still tied with 20 minutes to go.
O’Hanlon nearly scored another pearler when he slalomed through the Dublin defence and slammed a shot straight at O’Hanlon.
A third goal eventually arrived in the 59th minute and this time McNulty did the needful.
Sub Stephen Mooney made the assist but McNulty still had plenty to do, cutting across Sean MacMahon and striking to the net.
Monaghan now led by two points, 3-6 to 1-10, and it set up a thrilling finale.
Monaghan ultimately held their nerve and celebrated a memorable win with that late, late piece of McNulty craft.
Dublin will return to action against Mayo in round 2, while Monaghan will host Kerry.
Monaghan: Darren McDonnell (0-01, 0-01f); Ryan O’Toole, Killian Lavelle, Ryan Wylie; Ryan McAnespie, Kieran Duffy, Kevin Loughran; Joel Wilson, Gary Mohan; Stephen O’Hanlon (1-01), Micheal Bannigan (0-03, 0-02f), Michael Hamill; David Garland, Jack McCarron (1-02, 1-00 pen), Jason Irwin.
Subs: Ciaran McNulty (1-01) for McAnespie 32, Stephen Mooney for Garland 46, Andrew Woods (0-01) for McCarron 57, Karl O’Connell for Wylie 57, Colm Lennon for Irwin 68.
Dublin: David O’Hanlon (0-01, 0-01f); Lee Gannon, Sean MacMahon, Eoin Murchan (0-01); Greg McEneaney, Cian Murphy (0-01), Jack McCaffrey; Brian Fenton, Ciaran Kilkenny (0-01); Paddy Small (0-01), Lorcan O’Dell, Ross McGarry (0-02, 0-01m); Cormac Costello (1-04, 0-04f), Con O’Callaghan, Luke Breathnach (0-01, 0-01m).
Subs: Colm Basquel (0-01) for Breathnach 46, James McCarthy for McCaffrey 46, Killian O’Gara (0-01) for O’Dell 55, Niall Scully for McGarry 61, Theo Clancy for Murchan 67.