THERE was a sensational ending to this absorbing rescheduled tie at Pairc Tailteann.
Louth substitute Jim McEneaney scored the equalising point in the third minute of added time with his side's only score from play in the second half.
Moments earlier, Paddy Gilsenan had blasted home a goal to give Meath the lead for the first time since the opening passages.
The hosts seemed to have missed a golden opportunity on the stroke of 70 minutes when Damien Carroll's poorly-hit penalty was saved by Neil Gallagher. To compound Carroll's woe, he shot wide from the rebound.
Louth dominated the opening period and were full value for their 0-8 to 0-2 interval lead. The hosts were very poor in that first half, shooting five wides, with their only points coming from Joe Sheridan and Carroll.
Meath, though, improved considerably and managed four points in succession on the resumption.
Stephen Crosby closed the gap to two points and Carroll and Sheridan both went close before a Sean Curran point brought it back to the minimum.
Then came the drama in the closing minutes.
SCORERS – Meath: P Gilsenan 1-0, D Carroll, S Crosby, S Curran 0-2 each, J Sheridan, P O'Rourke ('45') 0-1 each. Louth: S Lennon 0-4 (3f), J Califf (1 '45') 0-2, A McDonnell, B White, P Keenan, E O'Connor, J McEneaney 0-1 each.
MEATH – P O'Rourke; D Dalton, C King, S Curran; C Rowe, E Harrington, S Crosby; C Gillespie, J Sheridan; M Collins, D Carroll, D McNamara; D McDonagh, P Byrne, B Sheridan. Subs: P Gilsenan for Collins, S Tobin for McNamara, B Meade for B Sheridan (all h-t), C Young for Dalton (48), D Bray for McDonagh (65).
LOUTH – N Gallagher; J Bingham, B Mulligan, P Rath; G Hoey, L Shevlin, A Reid; D Finnegan, P Keenan; J Califf, M Brennan, A McDonnell; E O'Connor, S Lennon, B White. Subs: D O'Connor for White (34), R Moore for McDonnell (h-t), J Agnew for Hoey (53), R Carroll for Califf (56), J McEneaney for E O'Connor (69).
REF – F Kelly (Longford)