Mayo 1-9 Meath 2
Not for the first time and probably not for the last time, Kevin McLoughlin rode to Mayo's rescue.
His game-winning goal came just as the clock hit the 70-minute mark. It left the locals shellshocked and their team still without a point in Division 1, while the frustration of Meath manager Andy McEntee was palpable, as he fumed at the failure of officials to play sufficient injury-time.
McEntee's anger centred around the final exchanges. With Meath two points in arrears deep in injury-time, Thomas O'Reilly tapped a close range free over the bar to cut the gap to the minimum. And when Rob Hennelly delivered his kick out, referee Sean Hurson called for full-time 10 seconds past the allotted four minutes.
McEntee was angry that the official hadn't allowed for a break in play in injury-time as Mayo's Bryan Walsh received treatment and referenced the amount of injury-time played in Croke Park on Saturday night.
"I'd say everybody in the stand thought there was going to be another kickout (after O'Reilly's free)" McEntee said.
"And it goes two seconds over and he blows the whistle. All I want, all every manager wants, is rules to be applied consistently, and then you know where you stand. It's one rule for the Dublins and the bigger names in this world and it's a different rule for everybody else.
"We've now introduced a rule where the game has to be stopped if a fella goes down with a head injury. And let's be honest about it, everybody is told to go down, you hold your head and the game is stopped.
"He knows that, we all know that. Referees are probably in a difficult situation in that regard, but he's supposed to play on.
"He's supposed to play on. If that guy is lying on the ground for 30 seconds holding his head....30 seconds. You get two scores in 30 seconds."
For Mayo, it was a crucial first win that was served up to them by McLoughlin's smarts. The Knockmore man is sometimes further down the list than his team-mates when plaudits are being handed out but anyone who has been paying attention know his worth.
And he could hardly have underlined it any more starkly in Páirc Tailteann.
Mayo managed just 1-2 in the second half and McLoughlin delivered it all. After being sprung from the bench at half-time by James Horan, he first steered over a difficult free into the teeth of the breeze. It was Mayo's first point after the restart and came when the second half was 28 minutes old. Meath put their noses in front again but McLoughlin pegged them back once more before he delivered the killer blow.
With Meath in possession, McLoughlin forced the isolated Robin Clarke into a turnover.
McLoughlin swapped passes with Ryan O'Donoghue before finishing calmly past Marcus Brennan and into the roof of the net.
Navan had seen four seasons over the course of the afternoon with the breeze having a significant influence on the game. Meath scored just a point in the first half to trial by 0-7 to 0-1 at the break but given the strength of the wind they had played into, they were till in touch.
In the second half, well worked goals from James McEntee and Ronan Jones helped the Royals lead for the first time in the game on 54 minutes.
From there McLoughlin took over and steered Mayo home in what was a bruising encounter as the Royals were left to rue nine second half wides.
"Two points under those conditions away from home against a team that was hurting and gave everything to it and considering then where we were with 10/12 minutes to go," Mayo manager James Horan reflected.
"The crowd behind them, wind behind them, they were winning the breaks and we still dug it out, I'm delighted with that aspect of it, absolutely delighted. We were on the ropes a bit.
"We showed great character. We won a couple of breaks that were key that broke their momentum. Robbie's kickouts in the second half were really good against the wind.
"Kevin McLoughlin came on then with Ryan and worked very well, got the goal that really won it for us so to dig it out, as we did in Donegal, when we were under pressure and we hung in there and got the rewards so delighted from that aspect, yeah."
And Horan agreed that proper time-keeping and playing the correct amount of injury time can be an issue for officials and managers.
"It's hard to know for sure because there's usually so many subs in the second half and 30 seconds is added on for each sub so it could be from two to three minutes to seven or eight minutes and it is very hard to know what is coming at you.
"And you are standing there on the sideline and you hear someone call out…. It is very hard to know what it is for or what it actually is.
"I don't know what's the solution but it can be very frustrating, particularly for Andy.
"I have been in the same situation where you are up in the game and you are willing the clock down, it can be very frustrating.
"But look there are inconsistencies in refereeing and there always will be in the game we play.
"Sometimes it is with you and sometimes it's not."
SCORERS - Mayo: K McLoughlin 1-2 (f), J Carr (f), F Boland 0-2 each, P Durcan, T Conroy, R O'Donoghue 0-1 each. Meath: R Jones, J McEntee 1-0 each, B McMahon (1f) 0-2, B Menton, C O'Sullivan (m), T O'Reilly (f) 0-1 each.
Mayo - R Hennelly 7; L Keegan 7, J McCormack 7, B Harrison 7; E O'Donoghue 6, M Plunkett 7, P Durcan 7; S Coen 7, D O'Connor 7; F Boland 7, R O'Donoghue 7, J Durcan 6; T Conroy 6, J Carr 7, A O'Shea 6. Subs: K McLoughlin 8 for Carr, C Loftus 6 for Conroy (both HT), E McLoughlin 6 for McCormack (55), C Tracey for J Durcan (61), B Walsh for Boland (68).
Meath - M Brennan 7; R Clarke 6, C McGill 8, D Toner 7; J McEntee 7, B Conlon 7, D Keogan 7; B Menton 7, R Jones 7; R Ryan 7, B McMahon 7, E Devine 6; C O'Sullivan 6, T O'Reilly 6, S Walsh 6. Subs: J Wallace 6 for Walsh (46), E Wallace 6 for Devine (52).
Ref - S Hurson (Tyrone).