Monaghan proved that the Ulster final defeat was no flash in the pan as they easily overcame a poor Donegal side in the Allianz League Division Two decider.
The game turned minutes into the second half when midfielder Rory Kavanagh was shown a straight red card for an off the ball clash with Kieran Hughes.
Afterwards Jim McGuinness said that “it was a loss of discipline that shouldn’t happen. He may have been provoked but you can’t do that. We had the same here last year when we had a man sent off (Eamon McGee) against Mayo.”
Donegal were trailing by just two points at the time, 0-10 to 0-8, and although they got back on terms courtesy of a Michael Murphy penalty in the 52nd minute, the numerical advantage was always going to prove the difference.
Monaghan were the better side with the Hughes brothers, Conor McManus, Dessie Mone, Paudie McKenna and corner back Fintan Kelly outstanding.
Donegal started well with a great point from Patrick McBrearty off the top of the upright and a free from Colm McFadden, but despite doing well in the midfield battle, they made little headway after the midway point of the opening half.
Monaghan, with the wind at their backs, began to find the range and the Hughes brothers looked dangerous. Rory Beggan (45) and Darren Hughes (after consultation with Hawk Eye) had them level and in the middle period of the half they gave an exhibition of long range point taking from Darren Hughes, Paul Finlay, Paudie McKenna and Conor McManus to push four clear, 0-7 to 0-3.
They were five clear after 30 minutes with Finlay and McKenna points either side of a goal chance from Kieran Hughes, who turned Eamon McGee but blasted over.
Michael Murphy did have a sniff of a goal chance before that and he too blasted over while two late frees from Murphy and Colm McFadden left three between them at the break, Monaghan 0-10, Donegal 0-7.
The start to the second half was lively with a small bust-up resulting in Rory Kavanagh receiving yellow but worse was to follow as Kavanagh was cited for a clash with Hughes and was shown a straight red.
Just before that Odhran MacNiallais had pointed on his Croke Park debut and when Ryan McHugh was pulled down on the edge of the square, referee David Gough, after consulting with his umpires, awarded a penalty and Michael Murphy drove home.
But Monaghan were not to be denied as Conor McManus fired them ahead and then in the move of the match, involving a number of players, Kieran Hughes palmed past a helpless Paul Durcan.
From there to the finish it was nearly all Monghan as they kept the scoreboard ticking with points from Dick Clerkin, Fintan Kelly and Conor McManus with Michael Murphy getting a late consolation for Donegal.
Before the end, too, both Darren Hughes and Colm McFadden were shown black cards.
Monaghan: Rory Beggan (0-1,45); Kieran Duffy, Drew Wylie, Fintan Kelly (0-1); Dessie Mone (0-1), Vinny Corey, Colin Walshe; Owen Lennon, Paul Finlay (0-3,1f); Kieran Hughes (1-1), Stephen Gollogly, Darren Hughes (0-2); Dermot Malone, Paudie McKenna (0-2), Conor McManus (0-3). Subs., Dick Clerkin (0-1) for Lennon 37; Ryan Wylie for Walsh, black card 53; Chris McGuinness (0-1) for Gollogly 57; Shane Carey for Malone 66; Jack McCarron for Finlay 72; Karl O’Connell for D Hughes, black card 73.
Donegal: Paul Durcan; Eamon McGee, Neil McGee, Karl Lacey; Frank McGlynn, Luke Keaney, Anthony Thompson; Rory Kavanagh, Martin McElhinney; Christy Toye, Ryan McHugh, Odhran MacNiallais (0-1); Colm McFadden (0-4,3f), Michael Murphy (1-4, 1-0pen,3f), Patrick McBrearty (0-1). Subs., Neil Gallagher for Toye; Mark McHugh for McElhinney, both 27; Conor Classon for MacNiallais 46; Darach O’Connor for R McHugh 58; Declan Walsh for Keaney 65; Dermot Molloy for McFadden, black card 67.
Referee: David Gough (Meath)