Tyrone and Cavan must do it all over again after a thrill-filled and gripping Ulster semi-final watched by 19,141 people at St.Tiernachs Park in Clones on a very wet Sunday.
Going into injury time, Tyrone had turned a three point deficit into a three point lead and looked set to reach their first provincial final since 2010. But gutsy Cavan had other ideas, with David Givney flicking in a late goal to level matters.
Even after that the Red Hands had chances to win it but failed to take them, although on the day a draw was probably a fair result.
Both sides deserve enormous credit for the fare served up in difficult weather conditions, constant rain throughout making life very difficult.
Despite that, it was a contest laced with quality scores and fierce commitment and they will meet again on July 3 to see who makes it through at the second attempt.
Cavan led by the minimum margin at the short whistle after they struck for goals at the beginning and end of the half.
Cavan deployed Killian Clarke and Givney on the edge of the square and they launched high ball in after high ball in an effort to unnerve the Tyrone defence.
It took six minutes for opening score to arrive but it proved to be a Cavan goal with Givney finishing to the net from close range after keeper Mickey O’Neill had denied Martin Reilly.
Wing halfback Feargal Flanagan then joined the attack to land a fine point before Cathal McShane opened Tyrone’s account after eight minutes with a well-taken point with his weaker left foot.
Connor McAliskey then turned two defenders to take a neat point but back came Cavan via Tomas Corr and Cian Mackey to lead 1-3 to 0-2 with fourteen minutes played.
Cavan failed to score again until injury time in the first half as Tyrone got a grip on things. That said, keeper O’Neill had to be alert to save a flick by Givney after the corner forward had got on the end of a high ball in from Reilly.
A poor clearance out of defence from Conor Moynagh was intercepted by McAliskey who placed O’Neill for a point before the same player converted a close in free.
Peter Harte then went past three challenges to send over a superb equaliser and when Colm Cavanagh and O’Neill both landed outstanding scores from out on the left wing Tyrone had made it half a dozen unanswered scores.
On the stroke of halftime though disaster struck when a long range free from Cavan keeper Raymond Galligan saw Givney get on the end of it to divert the ball over goal the line, despite the best efforts of Colm Cavanagh. Tyrone trailed by a point at the break but two points in two minutes from the Donnelly brothers Richard and Mattie saw them get their noses in front again.
Red Hands failed to drive on and by 50th minute looked to be in trouble after Cavan had kicked four in a row from Sean Johnston, Galligan, Niall Murray and Dara McVeety.
As was the case in the first half though Cavan then went over twenty minutes without scoring and again it was a Givney goal that brought an end to that sequence.
In between times Tyrone showed great character to take tie by scruff of the neck to turn a three point deficit into a lead by the same margin.
O’Neill floated over a long range free and, after an inspirational score by captain Sean Cavanagh, theywere level again as McAliskey split the posts - Tyrone with the momentum with Sludden firing over the bar as Mattie Donnelly followed suit from play.
With a minute of normal time left to play Tyrone had a great chance to wrap the game up when O’Neill played a superb pass into the path of Padraig McNulty. But the sub was denied a goal by Galligan at the expense of a 45, which Darren McCurry converted.
With four minutes of injury time, Tyrone still had work to do and halfway through it they were undone again when Cian Mackey and Ciaran Brady combined for Givney to net.
In the time left Tyrone had opportunities to win it but McCurry this time was wide from a 45, while Sludden dropped a tired shot into the arms of Galligan, last action of the game.
It’s all still to play for and hopefully a good omen for Tyrone is the fact that the last time they played Cavan in the Ulster championship was in 2005 also at semi-final stage at Clones, when they also needed a replay to win it and that year didn’t end too badly!
Tyrone: Mickey O’Neill, Aidan McCrory, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron, Tiernan McCann, Niall Sludden, Peter Harte, Colm Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly, Cathal McShane, Mark Bradley, Richard Donnelly, Connor McAliskey, Sean Cavanagh, Ronan O’Neill. Subs: Rory Brennan for Bradley, Conor Meyler for McShane, Darren McCurry for Richard Donnelly, Padraig
McNulty for McAliskey
Scorers: Ronan O’Neill 0-5, Mattie Donnelly 0-2, Connor McAliskey 0-2, Niall Sludden 0-1, Peter Harte 0-1, Colm Cavanagh 0-1, Cathal McShane 0-1, Richard Donnelly 0-1, Sean Cavanagh 0-1, Darren McCurry 0-1
Cavan: Raymond Galligan, Killian Brady, Killian Clarke, Rory Dunne, Feargal Flanagan, Conor Moynagh, Niall Murray, Tomas Corr, James McEnroe, Dara McVeety, Gearoid McKiernan, Martin Reilly, David Givney, Cian Mackey, Sean Johnston. Subs: Ciaran Brady for Brady, Eugene Keating for Johnston, Padraig Faulkner for Clarke, Jack Brady for Moynagh, Gerard Smith for McEnroe
Scorers: David Givney 2-0, Conor Moynagh 1-0, Raymond Galligan 0-1, Feargal Flanagan 0-1, Niall Murray 0-1, Tomas Corr 0-1, Dara McVeety 0-1, Cian Mackey 0-1, Sean Johnston 0-1
Referee: David Gough, Meath