Cavan football received a timely pick-me-up at Brewster Park, Enniskillen when the county’s Under 21s booked a place in the provincial decider for the second successive year.
A brace of scores from AFL target and man-of-the-match Barry Reilly and a gem from Niall McDermott helped edge Cavan into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
Donegal hit back with interest though and Colin McGinley set up Dermot Molloy for a cracking goal just six minutes from the interval.
The north-westerners eventually ended a 22-minute barren period when Molloy's free cut Cavan's advantage to four points, 0-9 to 1-2.
Donegal threw everything forward in the dying minutes but a brilliant save by Alan O'Mara from Seamus Corcoran helped secure Cavan's place in the final.
Cavan: A O'Mara; M Leddy, O Minagh, D Tighe; K Meehan, D Barkey, M Brady; G McKiernan (0-1), F Flanagan; N Smith (0-1), C McClarey, B Reilly (0-5, four frees); J Brady (0-2), N McDermott (0-2), P Leddy (0-1). Subs: S Tierney for McClarey (42); N McKiernan for Leddy (45); N Murray for Flanagan (53); S Nolan for Brady (59); S Gray for Tighe (61).
Donegal: P Boyle; D Curran, E Doherty, T McKinley; S Kennedy, L Keeney, C McGinley; C Classon, A McFadden; M McHugh (0-2, both frees), D Molloy (1-1, one free), D McLoughlin; K McFadden, R McErlean (0-1), P McBrearty. Subs: K Ward for Curran (half-time); P McNeilis for McGinley (half-time); O McNiallais for Keeney (35); S Corcoran for McFadden (35); A Kelly for Kennedy (53).
Referee: M McErlene (Derry).