Donegal finished with 14 men as Monaghan swept their Ulster rivals aside by 1-16 to 1-10 to claim the Allianz Football League Division 2 title at Croke Park.

Rory Kavanagh saw red for a needless altercation with Darren Hughes shortly after half-time and though Michael Murphy scored a goal from a penalty, Monaghan hit back with a green flag of their own from Kieran Hughes and eased home.

The much-anticipated rematch of last year’s Ulster final failed to catch fire, as Monaghan dominated throughout, kicking some wonderful points and looking far sharper than their opponents.

Donegal had started well, taking an early lead through Paddy McBrearty before Colm McFadden added a close-range free.

Monaghan settled quickly, however, and could have had a goal when Darren Hughes played in Kieran Hughes.

Luke Keaney blocked well but Farney goalkeeper Rory Beggan came up the field to point the ‘45’.

Referee David Gough had to turn to Hawk-Eye after a Darren Hughes point was inexplicably given wide by the umpires, the score detection system showing the kick had gone comfortably inside of the posts.

McFadden gave Donegal the lead once more but then Monaghan took control, kicking five unanswered points, including a long-range beauty from Paul Finlay and efforts from Darren Hughes, Dessie Mone, Conor McManus and Paudie McKenna.

Michael Murphy gave a reminder of his quality on 20 minutes as he claimed a long delivery, turned Drew Wylie and fired inches over the bar, but Monaghan were well on top and Kieran Hughes could have had a goal rather than a point when his shot clipped the bar and went over.

After Darren Hughes had lost his boot, the Donegal midfielder petulantly jabbed the Monaghan man in the groin with the shoe.

Donegal appeared listless and Jim McGuinness was concerned enough to make a double substitution in the 28th minute, Neil Gallagher and Mark McHugh coming in for Christy Toye and Martin McElhinney.

Frees from Murphy and McFadden gave the half-time scoreboard a flattering look for Donegal, as they only trailed 0-07 to 0-10 despite being totally outplayed.

Odhrán MacNiallais narrowed the gap after the restart but then the red mist descended on Rory Kavanagh, who had been booked minutes earlier.

The Donegal midfielder petulantly jabbed Hughes in the groin with a boot. Gough showed Kavanagh a straight red card after consultation with his linesmen.

It looked like a hammer blow for Donegal but, against the run of play, they got a lifeline after Colin Walshe’s foul on Ryan McHugh was deemed a penalty, despite the foul occurring outside the square.

All Star Walshe, who had been a surprise starter after recent injury troubles was shown a black card as Murphy buried the kick into the top-right corner of the net. Donegal were level, 1-08 to 0-11.

Once again, however, Monaghan responded impressively.

Conor McManus kicked an excellent point from an impossible angle before a flowing counter-attack saw the ball hand-passed in for Kieran Hughes to palm into the net.

Colm McFadden responded on the hour mark but that was to be Donegal’s last score until a Murphy free in injury-time.

Dessie Mone was orchestrating everything from the back and subs Dick Clerkin and Chris McGuinness landed fine scores as Monaghan cantered home.

The game degenerated in the final minutes, with McFadden and Darren Hughes picking up black cards but Monaghan finished in style, with further points from Fintan Kelly and McManus giving them a comfortable win.

Donegal: P Durcan; E McGee, N McGee, K Lacey; F McGlynn, L Keaney, AThompson; R Kavanagh, M McElhinney; C Toye, R McHugh, O MacNiallais (0-01); C McFadden (0-04, 2f), M Murphy (1-4, 1-00 pen 0-3f), P McBrearty (0-01).

Subs: M McHugh for McElhinney (28), N Gallagher for Toye (28), C Classon for MacNiallais (46), D O’Connor for R MHugh (58), D Walsh for L Keaney (64), D Malone for McFadden (Black card 67), J McCarron for Finlay (72).

Monaghan: R Beggan (0-01 ‘45’); K Duffy, D Wylie, F Kelly (0-01); D Mone (0-01), V Corey, C Walshe; O Lennon, P Finlay (0-03, 1f); Kieran Hughes (1-01), S Gollogly, D Hughes (0-02); D Malone, P McKenna (0-02), C McManus (0-03).

Subs: R Wylie for Walshe (Black card 53), C McGuinness (0-1) for McKenna, S Carey for D Malone (67), C O’Connell for D Hughes (Black card 73)

Referee: David Gough (Meath)