Allianz NFL Division 1: Donegal 2-12 Monaghan 0-8
Donegal found a ruthless edge as Monaghan lost their rudders in Ballyshannon.
Monaghan suffered a first defeat in four as Donegal edged a two-game losing streak with a clinical display.
The home side blew big leads on each of their last two outings against Galway (seven points) and Dublin (five points), but they never looked in danger here as Caolan Ward and Hugh McFadden struck the goals.
Even before Monaghan went down to 13 men for a spell, when Rory Beggan was sin-binned after Ryan Wylie’s sending off, Donegal looked home and hosed.
"We played well and we controlled the game," said Donegal boss Declan Bonner. "We dominated the possession so we're quite happy with the performance and especially the win."
The performance was merely a bonus for Bonner, who came to the banks of the Erne solely seeking victory.
"We spoke about it before the match," the Donegal manger added. "Whatever about the performance, it was all about getting the two points and getting over the line. We had been getting performances, but not the points on the board."
Midfielder Michael Langan starred for Donegal, kicking five points in a Man of the Match display.
It was Langan who created the opening goal for Ward on 32 minutes. Langan picked up a loose ball after Michael Murphy was crowded out of possession and Ward made no mistake driving emphatically to the bottom corner.
Langan hit two points late in the first half to give Donegal a 1-5 to 0-2 lead. It took 27 minutes for Monaghan to open their account through Colm Boyle's fisted effort.
Patrick McBrearty, in for his first start of the year, hit the first two points of the day and Donegal were never reeled in – nor looked likely to be.
The sheets of hail drove hard on Fr Tierney Park as Donegal parted six points in front.
McBrearty and Niall O’Donnell pressed home the dominance early in the second half before Wylie saw red on 47 minutes. Having been to the sin bin for a time in the first half, Wylie made the long walk after a foul on Langan, who had just kicked a monster score.
The second goal by McFadden – who drilled to an empty net – was punishment enough for Monaghan on 54 minutes, but the Farney lost 'keeper Rory Beggan in the same incident.
Beggan was black carded after dragging McBrearty down in a one-on-one. Beggan had little option.
The ironic cheers of the home support greeted two wayward frees by the Scotstown man in the first half. He fared little better with a ’45 early in the second half when, electing to pass to Dermot Malone, Beggan was also wide.
"When we went down to 13 men there was no opportunity at that stage," Seamus McEnaney, the Monaghan manager, said.
"I was happy with the first half performance except for our transition. We were very happy where we were with 31 minutes gone in the game. We felt that we had Donegal in a great place, especially with the strong breeze, but then we conceded a goal that we should have cleared.
"When we dropped to 13 men and Donegal are one of the best teams in the country at keeping the ball. When you give them a lead like that, it’s not a good place to be."
Late in the game, Langan boomed over a fine brace as Donegal got back to winning ways.
Bonner said: "We're trying to build a really, really strong squad. We are getting there bit by bit.
"We aren't there yet and we still have a distance to go, but we are moving in the right direction. We didn't get our rewards in a number of games, but sometimes you create your own luck."
Scorers – Donegal: M Langan 0-5, P McBrearty 0-3 (f), H McFadden, C Ward 1-0 each, N O’Donnell 0-2, P Mogan, C Thompson 0-1 each. Monaghan: J McCarron 0-3 (f), C McManus 0-2 (2f), C McCarthy, C Boyle, K Hughes 0-1 each.
Donegal: S Patton 7; C Ward 8, N McGee 8, E Gallagher 7; R McHugh, D Ó Baoill, O McFadden-Ferry 6; H McFadden 7, M Langan 8; P Brennan 6, C Thompson 7, C McGonagle 6; P McBrearty 7, M Murphy 7, P Mogan 7. Subs: N O’Donnell 7 for P.Brennan (34), E McHugh 6 for McFadden-Ferry (38), A McClean 6 for McGonagle (54), J Mac Ceallabhuí 5 for Mogan (68), E Doherty 5 for McBrearty (69).
Monaghan: R Beggan 5; D Wylie 6, C Boyle 6, K Duffy 6; K O’Connell 6, R Wylie 5, M Bannigan 5; D Hughes 6, N Kearns 6; R McAnespie 6, C McCarthy 7, D Ward 6; D Malone 7, K Hughes 6, C McManus 6. Subs: J McCarron 7 for Bannigan (h-t), C McGuinness 6 for D Hughes (50), S Carey 6 for Malone (50), D Kirk 5 for McAnespie (55), C Walsh 5 for Beggan (66).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).