The Oak Leafers trailed for three-quarters of the match but they stormed their way into the last 12 of the competition by dint of a scorching run fuelled by a never-say-die spirit.
After the game, Derry boss Damian Barton pointed to his side’s mental strength as his trump card: “Even when Cavan went three points ahead with about 20 minutes to go, the lads worked extremely hard to hang in there and we came back with two quick points which really got a bit of momentum going for us.
“I always felt that if we could keep on their tails, the longer the game wore on, the more they would struggle because — no disrespect to Carlow — two hard games against Tyrone was bound to catch up on them, physically and mentally.
“The heat and humidity were factors but we toughed it out it in the second half and went for it and even though Cavan had a three-point lead on a few occasions, we pushed on and kept up the pressure and with a good contribution from our subs, we were able to get over the line.”
Derry’s mental strength was key to their victory but so too was an on-fire Mark Lynch with a magnificent seven points and the contribution made to the Oak Leafers’ cause by a potent bench.
In the testing conditions, Derry stormed from the traps but, ominously, flattered to deceive in their attempts at converting hard-won possession into scores.
After James Kielty pointed in the sixth minute to belatedly open the scoring, wind-aided Cavan found their feet and three quick-fire points, including a superb score from Dara McVeety, left it all square until Emmet McGuckin fisted home a ninth minute goal for the Oak Leafers.
But Cavan were stung into action and they punished poor Derry marking by hitting six unanswered points between the 11th and 24th minute to march into a 0-9 to 1-2 lead. In an otherwise sporting first half, a black card for Derry’s Kielt and a straight red card for Cavan defender Feargal Flanagan upped the tension as Cavan went in at the break ahead by 0-11 to 1-4.
Points were exchanged as the game opened up but it wasn’t until the 63rd minute that Derry drew level (0-15 to 1-12) when Niall Loughlin was on target.
Derry continued to be the better team in the run into the final whistle with impressive sub Niall Toner notching his third point and Lynch sealing the deal in injury time with his seventh of the day.
“Losing a man really caught up with us in the end,” Cavan boss Terry Hyland reflected.
“A lot of their scores came in the last six minutes or so. We were disappointed not to make the Ulster semi-finals but I’m even more disappointed about this result because the lads’ workrate, heart and commitment should have got them something from the match.”
G McKiernan (0-4, 3f), R Galligan (0-3, 3f), D McVeety (0-3), M Reilly (0-2), C Moynagh (0-1), M Argue (0-1), C Mackey (0-1), J Brady (0-1), S Johnston (0-1, 1f), G Smith (0-1).
M Lynch (0-7, 4f), E McGuckin (1-0), C McAtamney (0-1), D Heavron (0-1), C Bradley (0-1), J Kielt (0-1), E Lynn (0-1), N Loughlin (0-1, ‘45)
R Galligan (0-3, 3f); K Brady, R Dunne, P Faulkner; F Flanagan, C Moynagh, M Reilly; T Corr, M Argue; D McVeety, G McKiernan, K Clarke; C Mackey, J Brady, S Johnston.
N Murray for M Argue (half-time); C Brady for P Faulkner (45); J McLoughlin for K Brady (53); T Hayes for S Johnston (58); G Smith for T Corr (67); L Buchanan for C Mackey (71).
T Mallon; G McKinless, C McKaigue, K McKaigue; C McFaul, B Rogers, C Mullan; C McAtamney, N Holly; D Heavron, C Bradley, E Brown; J Kielt, E McGuckin, M Lynch.
E Lynn for J Kielt (B.C, 24); N Loughlin for E Brown (30); N Toner (0-3) for C Bradley (47); E Bradley for McAtamney (49); L McGoldrick for B Rogers (60); N Forrester for C McFaul (71).
E Kinsella (Laois).