Kildare's second half burst enough to see off Meath
Kildare 2-15 Meath 0-13
This game hinged on an action-packed start to the second half, when Kildare found the net almost immediately after Meath had a gilt-edged opportunity.
Ruairí Ó Coileáin was denied by Colin Heeney and before the Royals knew what was happening, Neil Flynn was coming up with a stunningly-composed finish after beating four defenders with a blistering run.
That gave Kildare breathing space to see out the game.
The Lilywhites led by three after 19 minutes.
A pair of frees from Ó Coileáin kept Meath in touch but Kildare scored four of the last five points of the half to lead 0-9 to 0-5 at the break.
After Heeney foiled the otherwise outstanding
Ó Coileáin, Flynn gathered possession just outside the 20m line before embarking on an arcing run that bamboozled the Meath defence. His side-footed finish to the roof of the net was immaculate.
Ó Coileáin kicked four points to reduce the margin to a goal, but Kildare showed their mettle with a strong finish. Flynn landed three points, before substitute Cein McMonagle added an injury-time goal.
Scorers – Kildare: N Flynn 1-6 (0-4fs), N Kelly 0-4, C McMonagle 1-0, C Healy, C Fenner 0-2 each, D Fitzpatrick 0-1.
Meath: R Ó Coileáin 0-8 (6fs), E Wallace 0-3, P Harnan, P Kennelly 0-1 each.
KILDARE – C Heeney, P Mescal, D Maguire, B Byrne, R Houilhan, D Duke, D Hyland, R Moore, P Connell, M Sherry, C Fenner, D Fitzpatrick, N Flynn, N Kelly, C Healy. Subs: 14 D Flaherty for Fenner (54), C McMonagle for Healy (54), T O’Connell for Houlihan (BC, 57).
MEATH – J Hannigan, M Flood, B Power, G McGowan, L Ferguson, S Dowling, B Power, S McEntee, A Flanagan, H Rooney, P Harnan, R Ó Coileáin, C Rooney, J Wallace, P Kennelly, E Wallace. Subs: B Duggan for H Rooney (35), J McEntee for C Rooney (46), M Reilly for Flood (49), B Dardis for Kennelly (54), F Ward for S McEntee (59).
REF – F Smyth (Offaly)