Meath miss out despite O'Sullivan brace
Meath 3-19 Clare 1-13
Meath put in a brilliant second-half performance to put Clare to the sword at Cusack Park, Ennis.
While they only held a one-point advantage, 0-9 to 0-8, at the break, the Royal County went on the rampage in the second period scoring a trio of goals in a 12-minute spell.
Nevertheless, Meath failed in their attempt to achieve promotion as Galway edged them out with a one-point victory over already promoted Kildare.
There was consolation for the Banner County as results elsewhere mean Colm Collins' men stay in Division 2 for another season.
Kildare were criticised in some quarters for selecting a weakened side for yesterday's clash with the Tribesmen. Yet Meath manager Andy McEntee refused to be drawn into the controversy.
"I'm sure Kildare put out 15 guys who wanted to play for Kildare and there was only a point in it," he said.
"Look, we'd have done the same. If I were in Kildare's shoes and you have a big panel, why wouldn't you rest players? I absolutely get that."
Collins must have been pleased to be just one point adrift at the half-time whistle.
A Graham Reilly point within 20 seconds of the restart signalled their intent.
Then they killed off the Clare challenge with a hat-trick of goals. With captain and centre-forward Reilly in fine point-scoring form, it fell to his right wing forward Cillian O'Sullivan to up the ante.
He grabbed a pair of goals before setting up centre-back Brian Power for a third.
Eoin Cleary scored a late consolation goal.
SCORES - Meath: G Reilly 0-7; C O'Sullivan 2-0; B Power 1-0; B McMahon, J Toher (1f, 1'45), P Harnan, E Wallace 0-2 each; S Tobin, D Lenihan, J Wallace, J McEntee 0-1 each. Clare: E Cleary 1-6 (0-4fs); J Malone 0-2; C Russell, C O'Connor, K Sexton, D Tubridy ('45), John Hayes 0-1 each.
MEATH - P O'Rourke 7; D Keogh 7, C McGill 7, D Tobin 7; P Harnan 7, B Power 7, S McEntee 7; B Menton 7, J Toher 7, C O'Sullivan 8, G Reilly 8, E Wallace 7, B McMahon 8, S Tobin 7, D Lenihan 7. Subs: J McEntee 7 for S Tobin (44), J Wallace 7 for Lenihan (48), R Ó Coileáin 7 for Reilly (55), M Burke 7 for S McEntee (58), W Carry 7 for McMahon (65).
CLARE - Joe Hayes 7; M McMahon 6, K Harnett 6, D Ryan 6; L Markham 5, G Kelly 6, John Hayes 6; C Russell 6, S Brennan 5; J Malone 7, E Cleary 7, C O'Connor 6; K Sexton 6, D Tubridy 5, C O'Dea 5. Subs: E Collins 5 for Markham (44), D Egan 5 for Tubridy (53), S Malone 5 for Sexton (55), M O'Neill 5 for O'Dea (57), D Nagle 5 for Harnett (61), D Bohannon for Russell (68).
REF - J Hickey (Carlow).