at Kingspan Breffni Park
A late free from Conor McManus snatched a draw for Monaghan after a hard-fought encounter in freezing conditions at Kingspan Breffni Park.
Cavan thought they had won it when Paul O'Connor curled in a brilliant point in the dying seconds but the Farney men had other ideas and a late surge saw them earn a free which sub McManus slotted over with ease.
Cavan led by 0-9 to 0-7 at the end of a fairly tame first half of action. The small crowd in attendance probably expected fireworks between the neighbours but both sides fielded experimental teams, with three – Barry Tully, Conor Finnegan and Paul O'Connor – players making their starting debuts for the hosts.
Cavan raced into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead with points from the in-form Jack Brady (two, one free) and Niall McDermott but with veteran Stephen Gollogly prominent 'on the 40', Monaghan soon grew into the contest.
Jack McCarron got them off the mark with a free and although McDermott cancelled that out with a similar effort, points from McCarron and the lively Shane Carey dragged the Farney men closer.
Monaghan lost Daniel McKenna to a black card 20 minutes in but made light of the setback and two more McCarron points (one free) levelled matters on the half-hour mark.
Cavan finished the half strongly, however, Cian Mackey curling over a beauty, O'Connor – who had hit 2-1 in a 20-minute cameo against UUJ – landing another and then returnee David Givney firing over after the best move of the half to leave two between them at the break.
Monaghan rolled out the big guns in the second half, bringing McManus, Colin Walshe and Dermot Malone off the bench. McCarron was still prominent and kicked a good point, as did Conor Boyle, but it was the arrival of McManus, more than anything, which changed the game.
The Clontibret man kicked a fantastic point with his first touch and generally unsettled the Blues' defence.
Cavan worked hard, with Martin Reilly and Conor Moynagh forcing key turnovers, and when Chris Conroy fired over a 44-metre free to nudge them two in front, they looked like repeating last year's McKenna Cup win over their 'noisy neighbours'.
Things looked promising when Dillon released O'Connor for that super point but Malachy O'Rourke's men finished strongly to secure a deserved draw, with sub Owen Coyle kicking a top-class left-footed point from the left wing for the penultimate score.
Martin Reilly had a chance with a long-range free but it trailed wide.
All in all, Cavan will be happy to go through to the semi-finals unbeaten but their arch-rivals will also be content; they came back well when asked a big question.
Terry Hyland, though, will be most satisfied with the form of his key men, with Cian Mackey in particular turning in an excellent shift, as did Moynagh.
Cavan: A O'Mara, F Reilly, K Brady, P Faulkner, B Tully, C Moynagh, M Reilly, D Givney (0-1), T Corr, C Conroy (0-1), J Brady (0-3), C Mackey (0-2), C Finnegan, P O'Connor (0-2), N McDermott (0-5)
Subs: J Hayes for Tully, F Flanagan for F Reilly, E Keating for Finnegan, S Cooney for B Tully, J Dillon for K Brady
Monaghan: M Keogh, K Duffy, D Wylie, K McQuaid, D Mone, C Boyle (0-1), John McCarron, N McAdam, K O'Connell, P Keenan, S Gollogly, S Carey (0-2), C McCarthy, Jack McCarron (0-6), D McKenna
Subs: O Duffy (0-1) for McKenna (BC), D Malone for Keenan, D Millar for Gollogly, O Coyle (0-1) for Gollogly, C McManus (0-3) for Carey
Ref: P Hughes (Armagh)