Colm McFadden hit 1-06 as Ulster champions Donegal overcame a youthful Cavan side in a preliminary round tie at Breffni Park by 1-16 to 1-10.
Cavan started brightly, but Donegal gradually took control, and a goal from a McFadden penalty sent them in at the break with a 1-07 to 0-04 lead.
Niall McDermott pulled back a goal from a penalty in the 59th minute, but Donegal’s experience carried them through, with Rory Kavanagh and Leo McLoone adding points. Eugene Keating top-scored for Cavan with five points from play.
In front of a crowd of 12.847, Cavan’s young guns, with three teenagers in their starting fifteen, got off to a flying start with three points in the opening five minutes, the best of them a long rage gem from Eugene Keating.
They were also denied a goal by the woodwork, Brendan Fitzpatrick’s first-time shot coming back off the crossbar with ‘keeper Paul Durcan stranded.
But Donegal were level by tenth minute, Colm McFadden converting a free before Mark McHugh hit the equaliser.
Channelling as many as 14 men back inside their own half, Donegal forced a series of turnovers, their opponents struggling to find a way through a massed defence
For all their defensive instincts, Jim McGuinness’ men were sharp and fast on the counter-attack, and full-back Neil McGee and wing back Leo McLoone even got themselves forward to kick points.
Rory Kavanagh and McFadden also hit the target as the men from the north-west moved into a 0-07 to 0-04 lead by the 27th minute.
And three minutes before the break, McFadden blasted a penalty to the roof of the net after Killian Clarke had hauled down Paddy McBrearty.
Donegal led by 1-07 to 0-04 at the halfway stage, and almost had a second goal in the opening minute of the second half when Karl Lacey slipped the ball to McFadden, but he was denied by an excellent James Reilly save.
McFadden and McHugh tagged on points, and Cavan had gone more than half an hour without scoring when substitute Niall McDermott converted a free.
But Donegal were now performing with more adventure, a more attack-minded set-up which saw corner back Frank McGlynn become the third defender to score.
And when midfielder Neil Gallagher galloped through for a point, they had seven players on the scoresheet and a nine points advantage.
Keating and Givney pulled back points for the Breffni men, and McDermott gave them faint hope when he slotted home a penalty, awarded for a foul on Keating in the 59th minute.
But McFadden steered over three more frees, and while Keating hit his fifth point from play, Cavan limped into the Qualifiers.
Cavan scorers: N McDermott 1-01 (1-00 pen, 0-01f), E Keating 0-05, D Givney 0-02, G McKiernan, J Brady 0-1 each.
Donegal scorers: C McFadden 1-06 (1-00 pen, 0-05f), R Kavanagh 0-03, M McHugh, L McLoone 0-02 each, N McGee, F McGlynn, N Gallagher 0-01 each.
Cavan: J Reilly, K Clarke, P O’Reilly, K Meehan, J McLoughlin, D Reilly, R Maloney-Derham, D Givney, G McKiernan, F Flanagan, R Flanagan, M McKeever, J Brady, E Keating, B Fitzpatrick.
Subs: T Corr for Maloney-Derham, N McDermott for Fitzpatrick, N Smith for F Flanagan, K Tierney for McKeever, R Galligan for Brady
Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn, L McLoone, K Lacey, A Thompson, R Kavanagh, N Gallagher, D Walsh, M McHugh, R Bradley, P McBrearty, C McFadden, D Walsh.
Subs: M O’Reilly for Bradley, M McElhinney for Walsh, D Molloy for Gallagher
Referee: C Reilly (Meath).