Kildare incurred their second defeat in as many games as they failed to pull back a three-point deficit at the break having had Brian Flanagan red carded before the second half started.
The defender was dismissed by Joe McQuillan while team-mate Padraig O’Neill and Monaghan’s Dick Clerkin and Dessie Mone were given yellow cards arising from the second row.
Over 20 players were involved in that unseemly incident, which kicked off close to the sideline as the teams made their way to dressing-rooms just yards away from Director General Páraic Duffy, who was a spectator. .
At least one punch was thrown in the quarrel which came soon after the first outbreak just before McQuillan blew for half-time.
In hindsight, the Cavan man should not have blown the half-time whistle so quickly after the first instance of violence as both teams left the field together and tempers still flared.
But it was no excuse for the scenes which tainted an otherwise enjoyable game.
“I thought it was an awful lot of pushing and shoving from what I could see. Again you don’t want to see them things,” said Monaghan manager Seamus McEneaney.
“I didn’t see a whole pile, I just wanted to get the boys off the field and into the dressing room.”
Kieran McGeeney didn’t see anything in particular but commented: “I’d like to think we wouldn’t get into that sort of thing but it happened.
“I say when you slow things down again it didn’t look as if there was a whole pile happening. Joe dealt with four people after half-time.”
Thankfully, the ill feeling between the teams didn’t manifest itself further in the second-half as Paul Finlay showed his class to extend Monaghan’s lead to seven points at one stage.
Monaghan, with the numerical advantage, ran at Kildare continuously after displaying their shooting boots in the opening half.
Finlay finished the day with seven points, the best of them coming in the 31st minute when he curled one over his shoulder. Monaghan registered just two wides in the first-half, six overall, in what was a departure from last weekend in Navan when they totted up 16 wides.
“We have been threatening to play like that for a while but we have been making too many mistakes to win games,” said McEneaney.
“But today we tightened up and we didn’t make as many mistakes and played the sort of football I think we can play at times.
“Obviously there are still things we can improve on, today is only a first step as we would see it,” he added.
They also demonstrated some nifty foot-passing in getting their players into central or long-range scoring areas, while Darren Hughes was excellent in snuffing out Tomás O’Connor and then driving Monaghan on from defence in the second half.
Kildare will once again rue a high wide count, notching 13 altogether, and the lack of a goal, now a much-publicised chink in their armour. They didn’t look like scoring one either.
Mikey Conway and Eamonn Callaghan contributed six points between them but Conway’s missed free from 14 yards in the 66th minute summed up their day.
They were two points behind Monaghan on as many occasions in the third quarter, the latter in the 43rd minute when Padraig Fogarty stuck one over.
But then Finlay took over, kicking three on the bounce. Conway responded with a beautiful effort only for Kieran Hughes and Eoin Duffy to tag on scores.
Monaghan’s last score came in the 63rd minute but the deed was done. McEneaney could even afford to experiment with Clerkin at full-forward.
Kildare now face a massive task to revive their promotion claims.
“We probably used more fringe players in the league games than we had previously and we hoped they could step up but things haven’t worked out for them,” said McGeeney.
Scorers for Monaghan: P Finlay 0-7 (3fs), M McKenna, E Duffy, K Hughes 0-2 each, D Hughes, D Clerkin, D Malone, J Turley 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kildare: E O’Flaherty 0-5 (3fs), M Conway (f) E Callaghan 0-3 each, P Fogarty 0-1.
MONAGHAN: M Keogh; R McNally, Darren Hughes, V Corry; D Malone, D Mone, David Hughes; D Clerkin, J Turley; M McKenna, P Finlay, S Gollogly; E Duffy, K Hughes, D Morgan.
Subs for Monaghan: N McAdam for McNally (50), M Downey for McKenna (61), D Wylie for Malone, C McGuinness for Gollogly (both 71).
KILDARE: S Connolly; H McGrillen, M Scanlon, O Lyons; B Flanagan, T O’Neill, E O’Flaherty; D Flynn, R Sweeney; E Callaghan, M Conway, P O’Neill; P Fogarty, T O’Connor, D Donnelly.
Subs for Kildare: J Doyle for Donnelly (24), J Kavanagh for O’Connor (41), M Foley for Scanlon (45), A Smith for O’Neill (57), G White for Sweeney (63).
Red card: B Flanagan (ht).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).