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Monaghan tore up the form book as they sent Ulster and All-Ireland champions Donegal crashing out of the Ulster championship as the county captured their first Ulster provincial title since 1988, to make for an historic double in that it is the first time the county has completed the senior and minor Ulster double.

And this was a totally deserved victory in that Monaghan matched and even out-played Donegal in every aspect of play and led from start to finish.

Even when Donegal changed tactics in the second half to rain in high balls on the Monaghan full-back line, they held firm and broke out for match-winning points to seal a memorable victory.

Magnificent

Monaghan got off to a great start and rattled over four points in quick succession from Darren Hughes, goalkeeper Rory Beggan from a free, Conor McManus also from a free and Pádraig Donaghy.

In the following 15 minutes Monaghan created further chances that could have pushed them further in front but they left the door ajar with some poor shooting.

At the other end, though, the Monaghan defence in which Drew Wylie, Colin Walshe, Vincent Corey and Dessie Mone were magnificent, kept the much vaunted Donegal attack at bay holding them scoreless for all of 31 minutes. Monaghan ended a barren 22-minute spell with a point by Conor McManus from a free in the 29th minute.

Donegal eventually got off the mark with a Colm McFadden point from a free in the 31st minute and they pulled another one back through Frank McGlynn before the break to leave the half time score, Monaghan 0-5, Donegal 0-2.

Monaghan extended their lead a minute into the second half through Kieran Hughes, and while Donegal cancelled that out a few minutes later, Hughes struck a brace of points; Conor McManus hit a free and Dessie Mone pointed to put Monaghan five in front again and leave the champions rattled.

Donegal were now adopting the tactic of using the high ball in and they did earn a couple of frees that kept them in touch but Monaghan always had the capacity to respond.

Donegal got the margin down to four with three minutes of normal time left, but that was as good as it got for the champions as Monaghan wrested the Anglo-Celt Cup from their grasp with two late points, sending the huge Monaghan following into a frenzy of celebration.

Jim McGuinness was disappointed but made no excuses: "Monaghan were the better team on the day and they deserved their win."

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke said: "I am just delighted to have won it because Donegal have been a great team, but we have a great panel of players here and I am delighted for them because they have put in some serious work since I took over."


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