SUBSTITUTE Jim McEneaney saved Louth blushes with an equalising point in the third minute of added time to snatch a draw in this absorbing rescheduled O'Byrne Cup tie which had a sensational ending at Pairc Tailteann last Thursday night.
McEneaney made his entry for Eoin O'Connor with the clock ticking over the 70 minute mark and his side leading by the minimum. They had been ahead by six points at the break 0-8 to 0-2.
The Geraldines club man could have been forgiven for thinking that his team had secured a second successive win over the Royals in their own backyard after Damien Carroll miscued a Meath penalty with time almost up. Keeper Neil Gallagher got down to save but failed to hold the ball which rebounded into the path of the Meath man who made contact but directed it wide of the target.
As play swung to the other end Louth were awarded a free and Shane Lennon shot over for what seemed the insurance score.
However the drama was far from over and moments later Meath substitute Paddy Gilsenan blasted to the net to give his side an unlikely lead.
It was then that McEneaney showed his worth as he split the posts from an awkward enough angle out on the right wing to draw the sides level.
Ex boss Seamus McEnaney, who was in charge of the Royals the last time Louth defeated Meath, a humiliating nine point defeat which sent them tumbling to Division 3 of the NFL last April, was in attendance and must have been impressed from what he saw from Louth in the opening half.
The Wee County, possessing a greater hunger and sharpness, dominated proceedings throughout the opening period and were full value for their six point interval lead.
Meath started with seven changes from the previous Sunday and Louth had nine changes in personnel from the side that defeated UCD, including experienced duo Paddy Keenan and Shane Lennon who weren't included in the starting line-up in the match programme.
Former All-Star Keenan controlled matters at midfield and was well supported by a strong half backline of Gerard Hoey, Liam Shevlin and Adrian Reid. Lennon proved the ideal target man at full forward as the Wee County had six different contributors to the scoring in that opening period.
Lennon and James Califf were both on target twice, and Andy McDonnell, Brian White, Eoin O'Connor and Keenan were also on the mark.
The host produced very poor fare in the same period, shooting five wides, with their only points coming from Joe Sheridan and Damien Carroll. Meath did create one goal opportunity but Neil Gallagher produced a fine save from Peadar Byrne's low drive.
Carroll reduced the deficit with a 43rd minute point and with Meath showing a vast improvement they managed three further points in succession. All came from defenders, with Stephen Crosby and Sean Curran scoring from play and keeper Paddy O'Rourke converting a '45.
O'Rourke left his area to kick two other long range frees but he was off the mark with both.
That left it 0-8 to 0-6 and Louth eventually ended their scoring drought when Lennon converted a close range free on 58 minutes.
Crosby again reduced the deficit to two points and Carroll and Joe Sheridan both went close with goal efforts before another Curran point brought it back to the minimum.
Then came the real drama in the closing minutes and first one team and then the other seemed to have secured victory.