EXPERIMENTAL Meath continued their unbeaten run under new manager Mick O'Dowd, but this O'Byrne Cup victory at Pairc Tailteann wasn't enough to set up an early-season semi-final joust with old rivals Dublin.
The Royals eventually lost out on score difference to neighbours Louth, who registered a big win over Longford, and manager O'Dowd won't now have another competitive outing ahead of the opening NFL Division 3 clash against Monaghan.
A Meath win looked unlikely until a number of more seasoned performers were sprung from the bench in the second half. Substitutes Damien Carroll, Brian Meade and Graham Reilly contributed enormously to the victory, with Carroll getting the crucial goal within minutes of his introduction.
The students led 0-6 to 0-2 after 16 minutes, with Craig Dias and John Heslin dominating midfield and Kevin McLoughlin, Kevin Dyas and Donal Kingston all excelling in attack.
They went in at the break 0-9 to 0-7 ahead and further points from Paul Cahilane and sub Conor Downey stretched the lead within five minutes of the restart.
However, Carroll and Meade combined for a well-worked goal to leave the minimum between the sides on 46 minutes.
Brian Farrell then drew the sides level a minute later before David Larkin and Kingston (free) edged UCD ahead again.
An exciting final quarter saw Meade and Farrell seal the win with late points.
SCORERS – Meath: B Farrell 0-5 (3f), D Carroll 1-0, B Meade, D McNamara 0-2 each, S Tobin, M Collins, S Crosby, G Reilly 0-1 each. UCD: D Kingston 0-6 (3f), K McLoughlin, K Dyas, P Cahilane (1f) 0-2 each, N Kilroy, D Larkin, C Downey 0-1 each.
MEATH – D Lyons; C Young, C King, S Curran; C Rowe, E Harrington, S Crosby; C Gillespie, C Sheridan; S Tobin, M Collins, D McNamara; D Bray, B Farrell, A Tormey. Subs: J Queeney for McNamara (h-t), D Carroll for Bray (43), B Meade for Sheridan (43), D Hagan for King (55), G Reilly for Tobin (63),
UCD – E Keogh; M Furlong, R O'Carroll, C McConnell; D Drake, C Lenehan, L Keaney; C Dias, J Heslin; K McLoughlin, K Dyas, D Larkin; P Cahilane, N Kilroy, D Kingston. Subs: C Downey for Kilroy (h-t), J Hayes for Furlong (h-t), A English for McConnell (43), R Basquel for Cahilane (53), M Boylan for Heslin (55).
REF– D Fahy (Longford)