Cavan 2-11 Down 3-8
Cavan and Down will have to meet again in Newry next Sunday after their Ulster SFC tie at Breffni Park finished level.
A thrilling tie produced five goals, but there could have been three times as many, such was the quality of both side’s defensive effort, quite calamitous at times.
Ronan Sexton fired home Down’s opening goal in the eighth minute, but Cavan were the more dangerous force, with Larry Reilly and Gerald Pierson hitting excellent points from play, before Dermot McCabe sent a booming free kick between the posts from 50 metres for a 0-4 to 1-0 lead after 16 minutes.
But the Cavan defence was exposed yet again when Coulter exchanged passes with Carr to blast home a brilliant 20th minute goal.
Goal opportunities were opening up at both sides, however, and it was no surprise to the crowd of 13,505 when a quick-handed move involving Jason O’Reilly and Seanie Johnstone on the left ended with Larry Reilly palming home a goal.
Down substitute Martin Cole pressed forward from defence to shoot the only two points his side managed from play in the entire half.
Ger Peirson and James McGovern swapped converted frees in the closing moments, and at the break, Down held a narrow 2-3 to 1-5 advantage.
Cavan eased back into the lead through Johnstone and O’Reilly, but Sexton took Coulter’s pass to bang in his second goal.
The impressive Gordon gave Ross Carr’s side a two points lead, Coulter and wing back Ronan Murtagh floated over wonderful scores.
After all his heroics, it all went horribly wrong for net minder McVeigh a minute from the end, when he got a hand to Jonathan Crowe’s shot, but allowed it to bobble past him.
Suddenly the sides were level, and to the wonderment of Cavan fans, their side was in front moments later when McCabe landed a long range free in stoppage time.
But Murtagh came to the rescue with his second score to salvage a draw and send the tie back to Newry.
Cavan: J Reilly, P Brady, E Reilly, M Cahill, M Hannon, A Forde, R Flanagan, D McCabe (0-2, 2 frees), L Mulvey, R Cullivan, M McKeever, L Reilly (1-2), S Johnston (0-1), G Pierson (0-3, 1 free), J O’Reilly (0-2, 2 frees).
Subs: M Lyng for Cullivan, C Mackey for Johnstone, N Walsh for Mulvey, S Brady (0-1) for Pierson, J Crowe (1-0) for P Brady
Down: M McVeigh, D McCartan, D Rooney, K McGuigan, R Murtagh (0-2), B Grant, J Clarke, D Gordan (0-1), J Lynch, J McGovern (0-1, free), A Carr, R Sexton (2-0), D Hughes, P Downey, B Coulter (1-1).
Subs: M Cole (0-2) for Clarke, S Kearney for McGovern, P Murphy for Lynch, P McComiskey (0-1)for Hughes
Referee: D Fahy (Longford).