Ulster Football Final: Donegal beat Monaghan in provincial decider
Donegal avenged last year's Ulster Football Final defeat by Monaghan as they deservedly accounted for the Farney County 0-15 to 1-9 at Clones.
Ryan McHugh starred for Donegal while Odhran MacNiallais excelled with three points while substitute Patrick McBrearty also notched three scores.
Donegal led 0-6 to 0-4 at half-time and then moved into a four-point lead.
Monaghan sub Christopher McGuinness's goal cut the margin to a point but Donegal regrouped to take a clear win.
The victory was Donegal's first win over Monaghan in a senior championship game in six attempts with their last success over the Farney County coming as far back as the 1983 Ulster semi-final.
Both teams adopted defensive tactics in the first half but Donegal showed the greater ability to break tackles as Frank McGlynn and youngster McHugh were able to burst into threatening positions on a number of occasions.
In contrast, Donegal's defensive blanket bottled up Monaghan for the most part.
The holders were unable to get runners into their attack and found any long balls into Conor McManus and Kieran Hughes invariably won by the massed Donegal defence.
As expected, the Donegal team announced on Friday was significantly revised with Karl Lacey, Darach O'Connor and Neil Gallagher replacing Rory Kavanagh, McBrearty and Martin McElhinney.
Lacey strode forward to notch the opening score in the fourth minute and after Rory Beggan and Paul Finlay fired wides, further points from MacNiallais and Colm McFadden increased Donegal's lead to three by the 14th minute.
Two Finlay points cut Donegal's lead to the minimum by the 22nd minute but Jim McGuinness's side responded with quick points from Anthony Thompson and McFadden.
Tempers flared in the 28th minute after a heavy challenge from Stephen Gollogly on McHugh which brought back some memories of the controversial hit on the Donegal youngster's brother Mark in last year's provincial decider.
Then came one of the game's talking points as Monaghan claimed for a penalty as Donegal keeper Paul Durcan appeared to deny a Dermot Malone pointblank goal attempt with the aid of a foot block.
In the event, a '45 was awarded which Beggan pointed.
The margin remained two at the break [0-6 to 0-4] and Donegal produced a typically dominant start to the second half as two McFadden points and fine MacNiallais and McBrearty efforts increased their lead to 0-10 to 0-5.
McBrearty had been introduced for youngster O'Connor after 26 minutes of the contest.
Somewhat against the run of play, Monaghan appeared right back in the contest on 50 minutes as a rare lapse by McGlynn allowed McGuinness to turn and lash a low shot past Durcan, off the inside of a post.
Finlay did have a long-range chance to level on 53 but within 60 seconds a run by the excellent Neil McGee set up a point for McHugh, which should have been a goal after an unselfish pass from Thompson.
Another superb McBrearty long-range effort and a Murphy free extended Donegal's lead to four again with 11 minutes remaining as Monaghan had been put back in their box again.
Monaghan twice got to within three in the closing minutes but the second goal that they needed never really looked on.
With Donegal also winning the minor title with their 2-12 to 0-10 over Armagh, the county celebrated their first ever double on Ulster Final day.
ULSTER FOOTBALL FINAL
MONAGHAN 1-09 0-15 DONEGAL
LEINSTER FOOTBALL FINAL
DUBLIN 3-20 1-10 MEATH