Darach O'Connor attacking the Monaghan defence. Photo Thomas Gallagher
The return of Patrick McBrearty and Ryan McHugh saw Donegal defeat Monaghan to comfortably qualify for the Dr. McKenna Cup semi-final.
Donegal had a much stronger team on duty and it showed in the opening half as they five points ahead after a high-scoring first half - 2-9 to 0-10.
The opening goal on seven minutes was a thing of beauty as Nathan Mullins cut through from the middle and found Caolan McGonigle, who found Odhran MacNiallais and he dummied the 'keeper before firing to the net.
The goal put Donegal 1-1 to 0-1 ahead and they could have added a second minutes later after a poor kick-out but Patrick McBrearty was unable to control a pass with the goal at his mercy.
McBrearty and Darach O'Connor had further points but Monaghan hit back with three points in two minutes from Conor McCarthy, James Mealiff and Micheal Bannigan to cut the lead to one.
Mark McHugh finished a good Donegal movev but points from Jack McCarron and Conor McCarthy had Monaghan level by the 19th minute - although they were playing with a wind that was increasing as the half wore on.
Patrick McBrearty edged Donegal back in front after an effort from Mac Niallais for goal was blocked, but two Jack McCarron points had Monaghan ahead for the first and only time in the half.
Donegal finished the half really well with the second goal coming on 27 minutes. A good run from Paul Brennan saw the ball break to Jamie Brennan and he found Ryan McHugh in place to palm home.
Jamie Brennan added a quick point and although Micheal Bannigan replied from a free, points from McBrearty (2) and a magnificent effort from Ryan McHugh had Donegal in control at the break.
Jason McGee replaced the sick Hugh McFadden at half-time but Monaghan had a great chance to get back in the contest when Shaun Patton was adjudged to have fouled Jack McCarron going for a high ball. But from the penalty McCarron blazed the penalty wide.
Darach Jigger O'Connor hit a great point a minute later. James Mealiff had a Monaghan point but Patrick McBrearty hit two great frees in reply.
It got better on 44 minutes as MacNiallais found Patrick McBrearty, who turned and blasted for goal. The 'keeper got a hand to it but could not keep it out.
Monaghan had a goal chance at the other end but Shaun Patton made a great stop from Darren Hughes.
It was lights out for Monaghan on 50 minutes as Odhran MacNiallais sent McBrearty clear and he had Martin O'Reilly (just on) in support. O'Reilly set up Jamie Brennan to fire home.
There was little drama until the final minute when Monaghan were awarded a second penalty. This time Micheal Bannigan took the kick and Patton made a great save. Owen Duffy got a point from the rebound in the final action of the contest.
MONAGHAN: Shane Garland; Damien McArdle, Paraic McGuirk, Barry Kerr; James Mealiff (0-2), Fintan Kelly, Frank Connolly; Darren Hughes, Kieran Duffy; Darren Freeman, Conor McCarthy (0-2), Dessie Ward; Micheal Bannigan (0-4,3f), Jack McCarron (0-8,6f), James Wilson (0-1). Subs., John McCarron for McArdle; Neil McAdam (0-1)for K Duffy, both 47; Karl O'Connell and Owen Duffy (0-1) for Freeman and Mealiff, both 56; Thomas Kerr for Wilson 64; S Finnegan for Connolly 68
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Paul Brennan, Stephen McMenamin, Caolan Ward; Tony McClenaghan, Leo McLoone, Ryan McHugh (1-1); Nathan Mullins, Hugh McFadden; Caolan McGonigle, Odhrán Mac Niallais (1-1,1f), Mark McHugh (0-1); Jamie Brennan (1-3,1f), Patrick McBrearty (1-8,6f), Darach O'Connor (0-3). Subs., Jason McGee for H McFadden ht; Martin O'Reilly for M McHugh 49; Ciaran McGinley and Brendan McCole for Mullins and R McHugh, both 53; Stephen McBrearty for P McBrearty 56; Eamonn Doherty for McClenaghan 64
REFEREE: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)