Lynch on the mark to keep Derry top
Derry 1-12 Cavan 1-11
The free-taking expertise of Mark Lynch held Derry in good stead after a stirring contest at Kingspan Breffni Park. In a slow-burner of a game, Derry made most of the running and were good value for their second win on the trot in division two.
Cavan nipped away at their opponents' heels all night though and but for some last-gasp tackling by the Oak Leafers might well have nicked their first win of the NFL season.
Ultimately, Lynch's exocets in the dregs of the game proved pivotal in sending a fired-up Cavan side to their second successive defeat in the second tier.
Given Cavan's preferred set-up, Derry predictably edged matters on the possession front but it was the hosts who created the majority of chances in front of goal.
But eight wides in the opening half by the blues - double their opponents' tally - served to let the Oak Leafers off the hook. The Oak Leafers were guilty of playing too much flowery football and in the conditions and against the proverbial blanket, Derry largely cut an impotent crew.
Crucially, Damien Barton's boys squandered the only two goal chances of the first half.
Mark Craig skied a shot from point blank range over, instead of under, the bar in the fourth minute and then Ryan Bell saw his tame penalty saved by Cavan 'keeper Galligan on bended knee in the 26th minute.
With strapping midfielder Gearoid McKiernan in inspirational form, Cavan won most of the battles in a claustrophobic middle third of the field but their failure to cash in on gild-edged point chances made their 0-6 to 0-5 interval more paper than concrete in its composition.
Within 90 seconds of the start of the second half, Cavan conceded a goal with a flurry of rapier-like handpasses culminating in Cailean O'Boyle palming the ball to an empty net.
The second half was a much more fluid, spirited affair with the end-to-end action making for a nail-biting encounter.
The hosts eventually hit the jackpot when supersub Michael Argue took a leaf out of the Premiership to rattle the Derry net in the 55th minute and so square the tie at 1-8 apiece.
Derry showed a greater spring in their step in the run-in but they needed a five-star defensive display in the dregs of the game to keep Cavan at bay.
Successive match-saving blocks by Emmet Bradley and Mark Craig were the stuff of inspiration but ultimately they needed a 64th-minute free from Lynch to get them over the line.
Scorers - Derry: C O'Boyle 1-0, J Kielt (1f), C M Faul, M Lynch (1f) 0-2 each, M Craig, E Bradley, B Heron, D Heavron, S Heavron 0-1 each; Cavan: M Argue 1-0, G McKiernan 0-3 (1f) E Keating (f), M Reilly (f), P O'Connor, C Mackey, D Givney, D McVeety, T Corr, S Johnston (f) 0-1 each.
Cavan: R Galligan; P Faulkner, K Clarke, K Brady; C Brady, C Moynagh, F Flanagan; D Givney, G McKiernan; M Reilly, T Corr, D McVeety; C Mackey, E Keating, P O'Connor. Subs: M Argue for K Brady (47); J Hayes for D McVeety (50); S Johnston for P O'Connor (53); T Hayes for E Keating (60); C Conroy for G McKiernan B.C (64); E Henry for S Johnston (74).
Derry: E McNicholl; K McKaigue, C McKaigue, C Mullan; G McKinless, M Craig, D Heavron; E Bradley, M Lynch; B Heron, C McFaul, C Bradley; C O'Boyle, R Bell, J Kielt. Subs: E McGuckin for C O'Boyle (46); N Loughlin for R Bell (51); S Heavron for B Heron (56); C McAtamney for E Bradley (68); D McKinless for C Bradley (72); N Forester for G McKinless (73).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)
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