Sean O'Shea goal spurs Kerry to victory over Meath as Kingdom top Super 8s group
Kerry 2-18 Meath 1-13
Kerry booked their spot in the last four of the All-Ireland race by seeing off a game Meath in a packed Pairc Tailteann.
The home side were in touch for much of the game but a brilliant Sean O'Shea second-half goal gave the visitors a cushion before they pulled away down the home stretch.
Peter Keane's men came into this game with one foot in the semi-finals . They knew a draw would be enough to seal a place in next weekend's All-Ireland semi-final while they could also afford to lose even as long as Donegal beat Mayo in Castlebar. And perhaps it was with that in mind and an impending All Ireland semi final next weekend in mind that they left star attacker David Clifford on the bench.
Still they started like a team who wanted to leave nothing to chance, opening up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after eight minutes despite playing against a stiff breeze.
Slowly Meath settled and rattled off three points on the bounce to tie the game up at five points a a piece.
Then came two goals chances at either end.
Meath turned over a Shane Ryan kick out but a Kerry defender got back to put in a challenge on Shane Walsh just as the Na Fianna club man was about to get his shot away.
Almost immediately afterwards, Paul Geaney pull his close-range effort wide but the Dingle man was involved for the game's opening goal, swapping passes with Brian O Beaglaoich who finished to the net.
Meath replied with a point through Bryan McMahon before they grabbed their goal. Cillian O'Sullivan pace was too much for Kerry and he found Darragh Campion who finished to the net to put the home side one up.
Kerry opened up a three-point lead once more but Meath, with Walsh proving to be a handful at full forward, kept in touch and they hit the last two points of the half to go in trailing by the minimum 1-10 to 1-9.
Meath tied the game up shortly after the restart through Walsh but struggled against the breeze in the second half, managing just four points and three wides.
Walsh was Meath's best outlet and despite completed his Leaving Cert just a few weeks ago he finished the day with six points, three from play.
There were just four points between the sides on the hour mark, Kerry stretched for home to run out convincing and deserving winners.
Kerry finished top of the group and will discover their All-Ireland semi-final opponents tomorrow with the result of the Tyrone-Dublin game.
SCORERS - Kerry: S O'Shea 1-8 (4f, 1 45), B O Beaglaoich 1-1, K Spillane 0-3, P Geaney, D Moran 0-2 each, T O'Sullivan, S O'Brien 0-1 each
Meath: S Walsh 0-6 (3f), D Campion 1-1, B McMahon 0-3, E Devine, B Menton, T O'Reilly 0-1 each.
Kerry: S Ryan; J Foley, T Morley, T O'Sullivan; P Murphy, G Crowley, B O Beaglaoich; D Moran, A Spillane; G White, S O'Shea, M Burns; S O'Brien, P Geaney, K Spillane SUBS: D Moynihan for Burns (31), T Walsh for Crowley (40), S Enright for White (BC 45), J Sherwood for A Spillane (46), J Lyne for O'Brien (BC 52), J Barry for K Spillane (68)
Meath: M Brennan; S Lavin, C McGill, S Gallagher; D Keogan, P Harnan, G McCoy; B Menton, S McEntee; E Devine, B McMahon, D Campion; C O'Sullivan, S Walsh, T O'Reilly SUBS: T McGovern for McEntee (23), R Ryan for McCoy (45), J Conlon for O'Reilly (51), N Kane for McGovern (BC 54), M Burke for Devine (64), S Tobin for McMahon (66).
Referee: F Kelly (Longford)