Daniel Hughes drove Down through to the Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup final as the Mourne men got the better of Cavan in Newry last night.
Hughes, who scored 1-2 in all, landed the clinching point in injury-time which sent Ross Carr's men through to the decider.
Down went 0-4 to 0-1 in front but Cavan got back level by half-time before a Barry Watters goal gave them a three-point buffer.
Both sides had a player sent-off in a hard-fought finish but Hughes' late point was enough to see Down through.
Kevin McKernan (0-2), John Fegan and Cathal Magee were all on target as the home side stretched into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
Cavan replied through Michael Brides, Eddie Reilly and Ger Pierson and the sides turned around at the interval locked level at 0-9 apiece thanks to two frees from Cavan's Finbarr O'Reilly.
The second half was just six minutes' old when Watter wriggled free to bulge the Down net for what looked like being a crucial score.
But almost instantly the visitors had midfielder Mark McKeever dismissed for an off-the-ball incident and Down were quickly back on terms on the scoreboard.
Coming up to the hour mark, a Finbarr O'Reilly was the difference between the sides but Hughes' 65th-minute goal sent Down in front again - this time by 1-14 to 1-12.
Cavan came again, searching for an extra gear and they seemed to find it when Eddie Reilly followed up on a point with a scrambled goal finish.
Yet Hughes, who was backed up by five-point forward Fegan, had the final say to help Down through to a final meeting with either Derry or Fermanagh on Saturday. The second semi-final takes place tonight in Omagh (throw-in 8pm).