David Givney has final say to set up more thrills for Tyrone and Cavan
Tyrone 0-16 - Cavan 3-7
Both sides disappointed, both sides elated. The main thing is they both avoided defeat on a day that reminded us that Ulster can still throw up and blood and guts encounter.
The contest appeared to be coasting to an inevitable end in injury time, Tyrone three points up after experiencing extreme turbulence throughout, when Cavan refused to go gently into the night.
Cian Mackey fastened onto a ball and threaded a pass to the unmarked substitute Ciaran Brady. He chose the most logical option and scooped a hand pass across the square that was met by the highest fist - that belonging to David Givney - and the ball came to an exhausted rest in the Tyrone goal.
Two goals from Givney bookended this contest. He got the first score of the game after six minutes when a Martin Reilly shot was blocked by Red Hands goalkeeper Michael O'Neill, but the Mountnugent man pulled on the loose ball to hit the net and light a much-needed fire under this game and the Ulster Championship in general.
Never mind that Terry Hyland's men endured two separate 22-minute spells without a score in each half. The important thing for them is that they avoided the hat for the qualifiers draw this morning and their spirit and promise remains undimmed. Both counties and their supporters will be back in Clones for part two on July 3.
We borrow the phrase from boxing parlance, but it is perfectly acceptable to say that Tyrone were shading this on points only for Cavan to carry the heavier punch - their second goal coming from another high-ball in not dealt with the Tyrone defence, a flick on from Givney's fist and Conor Moynagh scrambling the ball over the line. Play went on, but the umpires called referee David Gough back to say that it had indeed crossed the line to leave Cavan one point in front at the break, 2-3 to 0-8.
Tyrone hadn't conceded a goal in seven Championship games, but Cavan knew where they could make hay, signalling their intentions by sending full-back Killian Clarke into full-forward from the throw-in.
With conditions tricky and Cavan making the early running, Tyrone's Matthew Donnelly called assistant manager Gavin Devlin onto the field after nine minutes, insisting that he tell the rest to get their defensive shape better.
It took another ten minutes before the Tyrone management switched Aidan McCrory off Gearoid McKiernan - Donnelly taking up that task - and onto the effective Martin Reilly who spent the first half hugging either touchline.
Tyrone began to nibble at Cavan's early lead, aided by some off-colour Breffni finishing on the slippery surface. Ronan O'Neill converted a couple of frees and two from play and when Peter Harte rode a Reilly challenge to lost over it left the sides level for the first time just shy of the half-hour.
While they opened the scoring with the first two points of the second half, Richie Donnelly levelling matters again before brother Matthew edged them in front with a foray through the middle and smart point, Cavan got on a streak to hit four consecutive points and open up a three point gap. Seanie Johnston's free, goalkeeper Raymond Galligan with a '45', a Niall Murray special that got the crowd humming and a superbly worked one-two with Tomás Corr that yielded Dara McVeety's solitary point left them in control with twenty minutes to go.
Harte responded by sending on substitute Darren McCurry. At half-time, he replaced Mark Bradley with Rory Brennan, placing the Trillick man at centre back and pushing Niall Sludden up on Cavan sweeper Conor Moynagh. .
Another nerveless O'Neill free was followed by a point from Sean Cavanagh who was oddly subdued throughout. Connor McAliskey coming on the loop around a play equalised with 14 minutes left.
Sludden hit his point, Matthew Donnelly followed with a dropping score, and Darren McCurry proved his worth by nailing a '45' and the game appeared to be heading for a natural conclusion.
That is, of course, until Givney popped up in injury-time with his volleyball spike of a goal.
TYRONE: M O'Neill; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, N Sludden 0-1, P Harte 0-1; C Cavanagh 0-1, M Donnelly 0-2; C McShane 0-1, M Bradley, R Donnelly 0-1; C McAliskey 0-2, S Cavanagh 0-1, R O'Neill 0-5, 3f. Subs: R Brennan for Bradley (h-time), C Meyler for McShane (42), D McCurry 0-1, 1x'45' for R Donnelly (50), P McNulty for McAliskey (64),
Yellow cards: Sludden (35), Meyler (48), McCurry (53)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: 0
CAVAN: R Galligan 0-1, 1x'45'; F Flanagan 0-1, R Dunne, K Brady; J McEnroe, C Moynagh 1-0, N Murray 0-1; G McKiernan, T Corr 0-1; D McVeety 0-1, S Johnston 0-1 1f, M Reilly; D Givney 2-0, K Clarke, C Mackey 0-1. Subs: E Keating for Johnston (58), C Brady for K Brady (64), P Faulkner for Clarke (65), J Brady for Moynagh (67) G Smith for McEnroe (70)
Yellow cards: Givney (27), Johnston (39), McVeety (49), Murray (53)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: 0
Referee: David Gough (Meath)