McBride's major keeps All-Ireland dream alive
Meath 1-12 Offaly 0-12
Meath set up a semi-final clash with Laois this evening (Tuesday) in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise (7.30) following this gripping Under-20 quarter-final tie at Pairc Tailteann last week.
A goal within 55 seconds of the start proved the crucial score, though Meath were forced to fight a rearguard battle for most of the eight added minutes as the Faithful pressed hard for a match-saving goal.
Cian McBride found the net from an inch-perfect Mathew Costello delivery to give the Royals the perfect start. Barry Callaghan's side were further boosted when John Keane added a quick point, before Cian O'Farrell opened the Offaly account.
The hosts, who started with four of last year's minor side, maintained the lead throughout the half but by half-time they just held a minimum advantage, 1-5 to 0-7.
O'Farrell accounted for four of the Offaly scores in the half, during which they hit seven wides.
The hosts led 1-5 to 0-3 after Liam Byrne converted a '45 on 25 minutes, but Offaly ended the half in fine style with points from O'Farrell, Jack Bryant, Sean O'Toole Greene and Jack O'Brien to be well in contention.
Farrell's fifth point had the sides level within two minutes of the restart, but Offaly failed to gain parity again.
Successive points from Luke Mitchell, Mathew Costello, Liam Byrne and Daithi McGowan in a seven-minute spell gave Meath a cushion they held to the finish.
With Farrell continuing his excellent scoring - he finished with seven points - Offaly remained in contention and were unfortunate not to find the net following a goalmouth scramble on 47 minutes.
Meath still led by four following Connell Ahearne's point on 53 minutes, 1-11 to 0-10, but Offaly had the deficit back to two after scores from sub Nathan Poland and O'Farrell (free) entering the closing stages.
Substitute Danny Dixon hit a crucial point for the hosts in added time before Offaly laid siege on the Meath goal, but they were unable to find a way through a stubborn rearguard.
Meath eventually finished with 14 after goal hero McBride picked up a second yellow card in that hectic finale, but Callaghan has this week named an unchanged starting fifteen for the upcoming Laois clash.
MEATH: Andrew Beakey; Sean Ryan, Robbie Clarke, Cathal Hickey; Eoin Harkin, John Keane 0-1, Oisin Martyn; Liam Byrne 0-2 (1f, 1 '45), Cian Swaine; Cian McBride 1-0, Mathew Costello 0-1, Connell Ahearne 0-1; Jordan Morris 0-1, Daithi McGowan 0-3, Luke Mitchell 0-2. Subs: Danny Dixon 0-1 for Swaine (h-t), Sean Bannon for Martyn (45), Aaron Lynch for Mitchell (53), Cathal Finnegan for Morris (57), Daire Nolan for Ahearne (63).
OFFALY: Jack Cullinan; Adam Bolger, Aodhan Bracken, Clive Keena; Ciaran Donnelly, Ed Bennett, Jack O'Brien 0-1; Jack McEvoy, Cathal Donoghue; Seanie Farrell, Cian Farrell 0-7 (5f), Sean O'Toole Greene 0-1; Cian Johnson 0-1, Jack Bryant 0-1, Kevin McDermott. Subs: Nathan Poland 0-1 for Bryant (40), Dan Wyer for McEvoy (44), Eoin Dunne for O'Toole Greene (53), Mikey Cunningham for McDermott (56), Oisin Murphy for Wyer (BC 61), Kieran Dolan for Bracken (61).
REF: John Hickey (Carlow)