Murphy the difference as 13-man Meath fall short
Michael Murphy, not for the first time, proved the difference for Donegal as they defeated 13-man Meath in Ballybofey.
Losing Peadar Byrne to a second yellow before the break, Meath had to play the final 13 minutes with 13 men when Martin Sludden dismissed Brian Meade for a high challenge on Murphy.
Donegal started in whirlwind fashion with four points in seven minutes, but they needed a similar scoring burst at the end to take the points.
The sides were level at the break 0-6 each as Shane O'Rourke and Joe Sheridan hit good points, but when Murphy fired to the net in the 41st minute it seemed as if Donegal would win easily.
However, Meath responded to get back within a point and, but for the second dismissal, the final scoreline might have been different.
"Losing the two men made life hard for them (Meath). But in fairness to the referee I don't think he had any choice," said Donegal manager, John Joe Doherty.
"We seemed to lose our way after a good start but Joe Sheridan at centre-forward had a big bearing on the match and they have big men around the middle," said Doherty.
The win leaves promotion in Donegal's own hands as they entertain Armagh in two weeks' time.
"We will go for the win. We want to finish the league on a high," said Doherty.
Scorers -- Donegal: M Murphy 1-6 (0-2f), C McFaddden 0-2 (0-2f), M Maguire, K Cassidy, C Dunne, DWalsh 0-1 each. Meath: J Sheridan, M Burke 0-2 each, CO'Connor, S O'Rourke, M Ward, C Ward, P Byrne, J Queeney (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Donegal-- P Durcan; S Boyle, N McGee, K Lacey; M Maguire, A Thompson, F McGlynn; N Gallagher, B Boyle; B Dunnion, C Dunne, K Cassidy; C McFadden, M Murphy, S Griffin. Subs: D Walsh for Dunnion (47), A Hanlon for Griffin (56), L McLoone Boyle (64).
Meath -- P O'Rourke; C O'Connor, N McKeigue, E Harrington; A Moyles, C McGuinness, M Burke; N Crawford, M Ward; S Kenny, S O'Rourke, O Lewis; C Ward, J Sheridan, S Bray. Subs: P Byrne for McKeigue (12), G O'Brien for Bray (h-t), J Queeney for C Ward (48).
Ref -- M Sludden (Tyrone).