Monaghan ground out a result in a dire Division One game in O’Donnell Park where the name of Gaelic football was brought into disrepute.
In a game that left a sour taste, Donegal were listless and almost unable to make any headway against a stubborn Monaghan defence.
The quality of the game is best underlined by the fact that only three scores came from play - the Donegal goal and two Monaghan points
Both teams employed mass defences with Monaghan even getting everybody back when they had the wind at their back in the opening half.
The sides were level at the break, 0-4 each, but Donegal, with the wind at their back were unable to make any progress. They managed just one score in the second half - a goal from Michael Murphy from a long ball from Neil Gallagher on 43 minutes.
Monaghan, needing the league points, had the stomach for the fight and were able to tag on four points before the end.
Three of those points came from frees - two from Paul Finlay, while ‘keeper Rory Beggan came forward to edge Monaghan ahead with four minutes left.
Donegal had just no cutting edge. They did have one great opportunity to draw level when Anthony Thompson found himself free, but he pulled his effort wide.
Then in added time Monaghan’s Fintan Kelly got into a forward position to fire over the insurance point.
Long before that the groans from the 5,000 supporters in O’Donnell Park, could be clearly heard. The majority of those present would vouch that it was the worst game of intercounty football they had witnessed in a long time.
The ball was played latterly and backwards by both teams. Both teams were guilty. With the wind Donegal dropped a number of efforts short and also had a number of bad wides.
At half-time with the sides were level at 0-4 each Donegal seemed to be in the better position as they had most of the possession in the opening half against the breeze.
They had opened well with three points from frees inside 11 minutes, Michael Murphy (2) and Patrick McBrearty getting the scores.
But Monaghan were biding their time, getting forward on sporadic raids and Kieran Hughes had their first point on 12 minutes - the only score from play in the opening half.
Conor McManus added a free, but was then black carded after an off-the-ball tangle with Neil McGee, which was reported by the umpires. There was surprise when the Monaghan man was singled out as they were on the attack at the time.
The loss of McManus did not affect the Farney men as Paul Finlay pointed a free. Michael Murphy replied a minute from half-time but in first half added time Finlay punished a foul on Ryan McAnespie to tie up the game.
There were those who felt the second half had to improve, but that hope never materialised and as an advert for Ulster football, it was not pretty viewing.
The Donegal goal on 43 minutes came when a long delivery from Donegal’s best player Neil Gallagher to the edge of the square saw Michael Murphy contest with Vinny Corey and Rory Beggan and Murphy got the touch to see the ball nestle in the empty net.
It was to prove a false dawn as Donegal failed to score in the 29 minutes played thereafter - a truly demoralising statistic.
There will be plenty of critical analysis of many parts of this game, not least the manner of the Donegal substitutions which seemed to have a de stabilising effect on the performance. There were few Donegal players who made an impression and it doesn’t augur well for the trip to Tralee and a date with All-Ireland champions Kerry next weekend.
Donegal Paul Durcan; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eamon McGee; Eamonn Doherty; Karl Lacey, Frank McGlynn; Neil Gallagher, Odhran MacNiallais; Christy Toye, Mark McHugh, Ryan McHugh; Patrick McBrearty (0-1,f), Michael Murphy (1-3,3f), Martin O’Reilly. Subs., Anthony Thompson for Doherty; Martin McElhinney for Toye, both ht; Colm McFadden for Lacey 36; Daniel McLaughlin for McBrearty; Eoin McHugh for E McGee, both 54; Gary McFadden for MacNiallais 65.
Monaghan: Rory Beggan (0-1,f); Conor Boyle, Drew Wylie, Vinny Corey; Dessie Mone, Finta Kelly (0-1), Karl O’Connell; Neil McAdam, Darren Hughes; Paul Finlay (0-4,4f), Dermot Malone (0-1), Ryan McAnespie; Conor McManus (0-1,f), Kieran Hughes (0-1), Daniel McKenna. Subs., Thomas Kerr for McManus, blk card 24; Owen Duffy for McKenna 48; Dick Clerkin for McAdam 66
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh)