Kildare 1-14 Meath 0-12
Kildare held off a stirring second-half comeback by Meath to emerge victorious from a thrilling semi-final in Newbridge. The Lilies will now play Dublin in the decider, and they will be hoping to replicate their play in the opening period, at the end of which they led by 1-12 to 0-3, rather than what they produced in the second half.
Cathal Jennings set Kildare on their way with an early goal, pouncing on a rebound after Emmet O'Keeffe's shot was saved. With Wayne Fitzpatrick and Jennings in scoring form, they looked set for a commanding victory at the interval.
Forward Eamonn Wallace had scored all Meath's points from play in the first half and added three more after the resumption. Oisín Reilly also got in on the act, and seven points in succession got them back in contention.
But they couldn't get the goal they needed, with David Byrne pulling off two outstanding saves to cement Kildare's win, despite Evan Dempsey's late dismissal for a second yellow card.
Scorers -- Kildare: C Jennings 1-3, W Fitzpatrick 0-4 (1f, 1 s-l), C Davin, N Flynn (1f) 0-2 each, A Bannon Whelan, E O'Keeffe, G Savage 0-1 each. Meath: E Wallace 0-6, O Reilly 0-4 (3f), P Donnellan 0-2 (1f).
Kildare -- D Byrne; H Flaherty, T O'Connell, E Farrelly; C O'Donoghue, B Nolan, E Dempsey; A Bannon Whelan, G Savage; C Jennings, C Davin, R Casey; W Fitzpatrick, E O'Keeffe, N Flynn. Subs: L McCabe for O'Keeffe (47); S Mackey for Casey (60); J Kennedy for O'Connell (60).
Meath -- S Rooney; G Deery, P Gallagher, N Lenihan; C Carton, B Power, S O'Brien; S McEntee, M Grogan; O Reilly, E Wallace, C Griffin; P Donnellan, C O'Brien, R Carey. Subs: N Carolan for McEntee (29), T Smith for Carey (46), R McMahon for Donnellan (46), A Hughes for Grogan (60), C Smith for S O'Brien (60).
Ref -- J Hickey (Carlow).