Two goals just before the break from Geraldine McLaughlin and Katy Herron were decisive as Donegal advanced to book a TG4 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final meeting with champions Dublin after an impressive 2-13 to 2-9 win over Kerry in Tuam.
Kerry battled bravely to get back after trailing by 2-6 to 0-7 at the interval and they must now regroup for a relegation play-off against Tipperary.
Kerry led by 0-7 to 0-4 after 21 minutes, helped by three magnificent scores from Hannah O’Donoghue, but Donegal took control as Niamh McLaughlin fired over after a patient build-up to cut the gap to two and then they hit front as Geraldine McLaughlin’s left footed effort as she was falling found the net.
The Ulster side ruthlessly punished Kerry as former AFLW star Katy Herron wiggled her way through the Kingdom’s blanket defence to finish past Ciara Butler. McLaughlin then tagged on a free as Maxi Curran’s charges led 2-6 to 0-7 at the half-time break.
McLaughlin pushed Donegal for victory after the restart as the Termon club player kicked three brilliant points.
However, Kerry didn’t give up as sub Anna Galvin found Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and she turned her marker and shot into the bottom left corner before Aisling O’Connell’s long-range effort snuck into the net to ensure a nervy finish.
The Kingdom further narrowed the gap to just two but McLaughlin had the final say with two great scores to take her personal tally to 1-9 to set up a quarter-final clash next weekend against Dublin.
In Mullingar, Katie Murray hit 2-3 as Waterford booked their place in the TG4 All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals with a convincing 3-16 to 0-12 victory.
The Deise will now meet Munster rivals Cork in the quarter-finals after they pulled away just before the interval.
Tyrone’s Niamh O’Neill hit 0-10 (7f) over the hour, but it wasn’t enough and they now face into a relegation battle.
Aileen Wall got in for Waterford’s third goal after 37 minutes as they built up an unassailable lead.
Meanwhile, Aimee Mackin led the way with a haul of 3-6 as Armagh set up a TG4 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final date with Meath after this impressive Group 1 victory at Ballinamore.
Hat-trick hero Mackin was the best on show as the Ulster side scored a 3-14 to 0-12 win and got in for her first goal after eight minutes after an earlier exchange of points between Rachel Kearns and Aoife McCoy.
She wrapped up the issue in the third quarter when she completed her hat-trick, finishing off a good move then slotting home a penalty to put the issue beyond doubt.
Mayo, who had already qualified for the knock-out stages, will now need to regroup for their showdown with old rivals Galway next weekend.
Elsewhere, Ciara McAnespie scored the crucial goal as Monaghan completed a dramatic comeback to defeat Cavan 1-13 to 0-14.
The result means the Breffni must now negotiate the relegation play-offs to retain their senior status.