McCabe strike puts seal on Royals' resistance as Kingdom are conquered
Meath 3-20 Kerry 2-17
Meath made their return to the Leinster SHC for the first time in 13 years and held off the challenge of the visitors after a thrilling finish at Páirc Tailteann.
The Royals led by nine points in the final quarter but were forced to fight a rearguard battle in the closing stages as Kerry finished strongly
The margin between the teams was down to three points in added time and the hosts had keeper Shane McGann to thank as Kerry went in search of an equalising goal.
Twice McGann came to his side's rescue in the final 90 seconds before Meath went on the counter-attack and substitute Cathal McCabe sealed the issue with their third goal.
Kerry relied on the accuracy of Shane Nolan throughout and the full-forward contributed 1-5 in the opening half but at the break it was Meath who led by 1-10 to 1-7.
Meath were boosted by a Kevin Keena goal on 48 minutes and they eventually went 2-18 to 1-12 clear.
Kerry hit 11 second-half wides but although they rallied in the closing stages, the Meath rearguard repelled their efforts to snatch an equaliser.
Scorers - Meath: S Clynch 0-7 (6f), S Quigley 1-3, K Keena, C McCabe 1-0 each, A Gannon 0-3, M O'Sullivan 0-2, D Kelly, K Keoghan, A Forde, G McGowan, N Heffernan 0-1 each. Kerry: S Nolan 1-9 (6f), M Boyle 1-1, M O'Leary 0-2, B Murphy, J Conway, P Lucid, J Goulding, M O'Connor 0-1 each.
Meath - S McGann 8; S Whitty 7, D Healy 5, C Reilly 6; S Brennan 6, D Kelly 7, K Keoghan 7; A Forde 7, J Keena 8; S Quigley 8, S Clynch 7, J Kelly 6; G McGowan 7, M O'Sullivan 7, A Gannon 8. Subs: S Geraghty 7 for Healy (13), K Keena 6 for J Kelly (45), N Heffernan 6 for Quigley (55), C McCabe 6 for McGowan (63), P Kelly for Gannon (68).
Kerry - A McCabe 7; R Horgan 7, T Murnane 7, S Weir 7; J Buckley 7, B Murphy 7, D Dineen 6; T Casey 6, P O'Connor 7; M Boyle 7, P Kelly 6, K Carmody 6; J Conway 7, S Nolan 8, P Lucid 6. Subs: M O'Leary 7 for Kelly (35), J Goulding 7 for Casey (h-t), M O'Connor 6 for Carmody (47), B O'Leary 6 for Lucid (55), C Harty for Conway (67).
Ref - S Cleere (Kilkenny)