FOUR unanswered points in the final 12 minutes secured victory for Meath champions Skryne at Pairc Tailteann, Navan yesterday.
Mark Doyle pointed Rathnew ahead for the only time on 46 minutes but the Wicklow men failed to score again as Skryne finished much the stronger and three pointed frees from Ian Davis and another from play by Mark Battersby earned a deserved victory.
Davis also accounted for his side's goal when converting a penalty on 22 minutes following a foul on Paddy O'Rourke and that score gave Skryne a 1-4 to 0-2 cushion at half-time.
All of Davis' tally of 1-4 came from placed balls. The home side controlled the game for long periods but were almost undone by a rousing Rathnew rally in the third quarter.
Neither side showed much sparkle in an error-ridden opening period, with that penalty goal the crucial score. Rathnew were lethargic in attack early on, despite points from Leighton Glynn and midfielder Stephen Kavanagh. They also tallied six wides in the opening half-hour.
The match suddenly burst to life within 20 seconds of the restart when midfielder James Stafford soloed through to test Skryne 'keeper Felim O'Rourke with a rasping shot. The rebound spilled into the path of full-forward Doyle, who applied the finishing touch to the net.
That goal was the catalyst for a great Rathnew spell and in the following 15 minutes they added a further six points to forge into a 1-8 to 1-7 lead.
International Rules star Glynn caused the Skryne defence endless problems during that dominant period and contributed two points.
Goalscorer Doyle was also to the fore in unsettling the Skryne defence with two points, while Tommy Gill, a veteran of many a Leinster campaign, also scored a brace, including his side's only point of the hour from a placed ball.
The visitors had a grip on proceedings at that stage and looked likely to prevail, but instead it was Skryne who had more in reserve and they kicked on to the final whistle.
Davis levelled on 48 minutes and then regained the lead for his side two minutes later after his brother Brian, a second-half substitute, was hauled down following a fine run.
Glynn, who showed signs of weariness following his exploits at the Gaelic Grounds less than 24 hours earlier, did have a chance to put his side ahead again on 52 minutes but his goal effort from close range wasn't hit with great conviction and was blocked by keeper O'Rourke.
The Rathnew challenge petered out after that and after going two points clear, Skryne had a chance to wrap the game up on 58 minutes when Battersby was presented with a goal chance, but his fisted effort was straight at 'keeper Peter Dignam.
Davis eventually made certain of victory in added time.
Scorers -- Skryne: I Davis 1-4 (0-4f, 1-0p), P O'Rourke 0-3 (1 '45'), M Battersby 0-2, A Tuite, K Mulvaney 0-1 each. Rathnew: M Doyle 1-2, L Glynn 0-3, T Gill 0-2 (0-1f), S Kavanagh 0-1.
SKRYNE -- F O'Rourke; A Curry, D Beaton, M Jordan; J Looby, C Lenehan , J Hegarty; A Tuite, D McGoldrick; P O'Rourke, T Giles, I Davis; K Mulvaney, B Byrne, M Battersby. Subs: B Davis for Byrne (41), V O'Reilly for Hegarty (56), P Fox for Mulvaney (59).
RATHNEW -- P Dignam; A Clarke, D Power, S Byrne; E Glynn, S Canavan, P Merrigan; J Stafford, S Kavanagh; J Merrigan, N Mernagh, B Mernagh; T Gill, M Doyle, L Glynn. Subs: D Farney for Byrne (h-t), E Doyle for J Merrigan (35), P Ronan for B Mernagh (42).
REF -- G McCormack (Dublin).