McGowan keeps the Royals on the march
Meath 1-21 Kildare 0-21
Gavin McGowan's 20th-minute goal for Meath following the dismissal of Kildare's Paul Divilly a minute earlier proved decisive in Newbridge, where rival marksmen James Toher and Gerry Keegan both scored 0-12.
Holding a three-point lead (0-7 to 0-4) in the 18th minute following Toher's fifth point, Meath were handed two golden breaks.
Following Divilly's sending off, Royals corner-forward McGowan, struck for a crucial goal.
The half finished with a de facto free-taking contest between Toher and Keegan, each reaching a tally of seven points apiece. Kildare's Philip Cocoman reduced Meath's lead to 1-10 to 0-11 at the break.
The Lilywhites needing a scoring burst to breach that three-point gap
However, four further Toher points and two from second-half substitute, Steven Clynch held the line for the Royals.
But while four more Keegan frees in response left a one-point gap between the teams by the 68th minute, Toher and Steven Clynch stepped up to re-establish the three-point margin with points in the closing stages.
Scorers - Meath: J Toher (9f) 0-12, G McGowan 1-3; S Clynch 0-3; S Heavey, S Morris and N Heffernan 0-1 each. Kildare: G Keegan (9f, 1 '65) 0-12, M Delaney, M Fitzgerald 0-2 each; M Grace, P Cocoman, J Byrne, L Quinn and J Sheridan 0-1 each.
Kildare: P Dermody; R Bergin, J Doran, C Gordon; S Gainey, M Moloney, M Grace; M Fitzgerald, N O'Muineacháin; P Cocoman, P Divilly, L Quinn; M Delaney, G Keegan, J Byrne. Subs: J Sheridan for Cocoman (h/t), P Ryan for Gainey (47), B Byrne for Quinn (57).
Meath: S McCann; C Reilly, D Donoghue, S Whitty; S Brennan, D Healy, K Keoghan; S Heavey, S Morris; J Toher, J Keena, A Gannon; G McGowan, N Heffernan, S Clynch. Subs: R Sherlock for Whitty (15m): S. Geraghty for Keena (h/t): K. Keena for Heffernan (52m): S Quigley for Reilly (65).
Ref: J Keane (Galway)