By Orla Bannon
Cavan 1-14 Down 0-15
An injury-time save from James Farrelly booked Cavan's place in the third round All-Ireland SFC qualifiers against 14-man Down after a fiery game in Brewster Park.
Referee Cormac Reilly flashed three cards, two for Cavan and one for Down, after a mass brawl erupted on the pitch after the final whistle.
That means as things stand, Breffni pair Dara McVeety and Conor Moynagh will now be suspended for next week's third round qualifier. Down's Anthony Doherty also saw red.
Ryan Johnston was red-carded in the second half, with Down playing well and four points up at that stage, before a fortuituous Gearoid McKiernan goal swung the momentum back Cavan's way.
Shane Harrison's goalkeeping mistake, allied to Farrelly's good save from Darren O'Hagan deep in injury-time, batting away a low shot fired at his near post, ensured Cavan's progression to Monday morning's draw.
Cavan were below par while Down produced their best performance of the year to make a real contest of it. They were without the injured Donal O'Hare and lost two other key players, Connaire Harrison and Kevin McKernan, to black cards during the game before Johnston's dismissal.
Despite both sides losing heavily to Donegal in the Ulster SFC, Cavan were favourites for this second round All-Ireland qualifier and they lived up to that billing in the opening quarter racing into a 0-6 to 0-2 lead.
Dominant on kickouts and first to a lot of the breaks, they looked comfortable with Seanie Johnston picking off three frees and Ciaran Brady, Dara McVeety and Gearoid McKiernan all scoring from play.
Cavan's Sean Johnston with Jonny Flynn of Down. Pic: INPHO/John McVitty
McKiernan won a Down kickout in the air, raced forward and popped it over the bar with his left foot to suggest Cavan were in the ascendancy, leading by four points after 13 minutes.
Down refused to lie down, however, and were easily the better side for the remainder of the half.
They showed a lot of heart and were vastly improved from their last outing, scoring eight of the next 10 points right up to the interval.
Along with Anthony Doherty and Ronan Millar frees, Connaire Harrison and Kevin McKernan scored spectacular long-range points to drag Down level at seven points apiece after 26 minutes.
The Mourne county's momentum was halted briefly around the half-hour mark with two black cards. Harrison went after a tussle with Padraig Faulkner and when McKernan argued about it with the linesman, referee Cormac Reilly came over and dismissed him to the stands.
Down didn't let it unsettle them and took the lead for the first time through Peter Turley's boomer from distance. Niall Madine and Sean Dornan gave them a 0-10 to 0-8 useful half-time lead.
Down stayed in front in the third quarter and led by four, at 0-13 to 0-9, after 47 minutes but the game swung Cavan's way after Johnston's red card.
They only scored two more points with Niall Murray landing two for Cavan while Oisin Kiernan also nailed one from the wing.
When McKiernan's attempt at a point dropped short, Harrison tried to catch it but dropped it and the ball trickled into the net in the 53rd minute.
Padraig Faulkner fisted over a crucial score for Cavan with the game in the melting pot and Farrelly's late save helped them stumble over the line.
Scorers for Cavan: G McKiernan 1-2, S Johnston 0-3 (3f), N Murray 0-2, C Brady 0-2, D McVeety 0-1, S McCormack 0-1, C Bradley 0-1, O Kiernan 0-1, P Faulkner 0-1
Scorers for Down: A Doherty 0-3 (2f, one '45'), R Millar 0-4 (3f), S Dornan 0-2, N Madine 0-1, C Maginn 0-1, P Turley 0-1, C Harrison 0-1, K McKernan 0-1, D McKibbin 0-1
Cavan: J Farrelly; K Brady, P Faulkner, E Flanagan; C Brady, C Moynagh, M Reilly; S McCormack, B Magee; O Kiernan, G McKiernan, N Murray; C Bradley, D McVeety, S Johnston
Subs: F Reilly for K Brady (HT), C Mackey for Magee (41), C O'Reilly for Johnston (41), A Cole for McCormack (52), N Clerkin for Bradley (60), J McLoughlin for Flanagan (70)
Down: S Harrison; R McAleenan, B McArdle, A Doherty; D O'Hagan, N McParland, C Mooney; P Turley, N Donnelly; R Millar, K McKernan, C Maginn; S Dornan, C Harrison, R Johnston
Subs: N Madine for Harrison (29, BC), D McKibbin for McKernan (31, BC), J Flynn for Mooney (38), C Poland for Donnelly (51), C Francis for Turley (66)
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).