UCD battled hard to achieve a 2-0 win against Drogheda United in a hotly-contested Leinster Senior Cup Fourth Round tie at the UCD Bowl on Friday evening.
Drogheda dominated much of the first half, their best chance falling to Gareth McCaffrey, who fired wide with a volley on a virtually open goal from close range.
The home side came back second half and Kavanagh converted a penalty with two-thirds of the game gone to give College the lead.
A strike from Liam Scales 15 minutes from time sealed the win for UCD, building some good momentum heading into their opening night derby clash with Cabinteely in the First Division next Friday.
Drogs started the game the brighter, carving out the opening opportunity when McCaffrey slid Marc Griffin through, but he pulled his shot wide to the left.
The newly-promoted Premier Division outfit pressed UCD high early on, and a good break in the 18th minute from Griffin was halted by a fantastic last-ditch tackle from UCD captain Scales, with a goal looking a certainty.
The Students lacked any real attacking threat for the first half an hour, a lucky break for Yousef Mahdy their only sniff at goal as The Boynesiders continued to dominate.
McCaffrey missed the best chance of the half in the 21st minute when he volleyed high and wide from six yards out, before sending a looping free kick over everyone's heads on the half hour mark.
He then turned creator to set up Killian Brennan just before the break, but he also headed wide, as Drogs went in feeling unlucky to have not scored, with their opponents on the ropes.
Half-time substitute Stephen Elliott made almost an immediate impact six minutes into the second half; twice receiving passes in at an awkward height, twice turning his man brilliantly, and twice posting the ball well wide to the left, in the space of about twenty seconds.
UCD were slowly able to get going in the second half, with Jack Ryan and Cian Kavanagh beginning to dictate play more and play in meaningful passes. A fantastic deep ball from Ryan set Gareth Coughlan away, but he glanced wide.
Drogs captain Luke Gallagher missed a good headed opportunity with ten minutes gone in the half, as both sides began to send more hopeful balls in search of the all-important opening goal.
UCD's resistance stood firm in defence and midfield and were gifted a golden opportunity in the 68th minute when Mahdy went over in the box under seemingly little influence, but referee Derek Tomney awarded a penalty.
The judgement may well have been soft, but Kavanagh's penalty certainly wasn't, smashing home to give the home side a 1-0 lead their resilience deserved.
Confidence now lay with The Students and, in the 75th minute, they doubled their advantage, when a free kick from Kavanagh, 35 yards out from the left wing, was helped into the net by Scales to double College's advantage.
The away side continued to create chances, particularly substitute Adam Wixted whose mazy runs were a real handful down UCD's left hand side, but what chances they cmade when they got through the home defence they wasted.
Elliott scuffed another shot wide, then he turned provider only for Wixted to fluff up his volley from six yards out, and another cross from Wixted hit Sean Thornton on the back, as Drogheda produced a tragically comic album of missed chances.
Five minutes of added time brought no more threat, and UCD stood firm to win and advance in the Leinster Senior Cup.
UCD: Conor O'Donnell; Joseph Manley, Darragh Corcoran, Liam Scales, Evan Osam (Sean Coyne 65'); Rob Manley, Cian Kavanagh, Conor Crowley (Sean Quinn 79'), Jack Ryan; Yousef Mahdy (Kevin Coffey 85'), Gareth Coughlan.
Subs not used: Evan Farrell; Niall Corbett; Josh Collins.
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Colm Deasy, Stephen Dunne, Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallagher; Gavin Brennan, Jake Hyland, Richie Purdy, Gareth McCaffrey (Adam Wixted 79'); Thomas Byrne (Sean Thornton 67'), Marc Griffin (Stephen Elliott 46').
Subs not used: Lloyd Buckley; Jamie Hickey; Jamie Hollywood, Ciaran McGuigan.
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Attendance: 100 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Cian Kavanagh (UCD).