Carlow 0-21 Meath 1-14
Chris Nolan hit six points as Carlow produced a strong finish, outscoring visitors Meath by 0-6 to 0-1 over the final 20 minutes, to secure victory at Netwatch Cullen Park.
The sides were level on five occasions, including half-time (0-11 to 1-8), with the Meath goal coming on 32 minutes from Patrick Conneely, who scored 1-7.
Meath led for the only time through a point from play by Gavin McGowan on 52 minutes.
Carlow looked to be under threat at that stage, but Mount Leinster Rangers clubman Nolan picked off three quick-fire points to put Colm Bonnar's men back in front and they never looked back.
A relieved Bonnar commented: "After losing last week, today was about winning and it keeps us in the mix. We are keeping it in our own hands, but it was a real battle.
"With 15 minutes to go we were not playing that well and you could see the three suspended players was telling on our panel (three Carlow players were red-carded against Antrim)."
Meath selector and former Kilkenny great Michael Kavanagh said the Royals backroom team was happy with the team's spirit and attitude.
"Carlow are a well experienced side - they had more ball winners and finishers. We did well to stay with Carlow for so long and it could have gone either way," he said.
Reflecting on the fact that Meath have lost all three McDonagh Cup games, the Kilkenny man added: "Coming out of the Christy Ring Cup is a big step."
Scorers - Carlow: D Murphy 0-8f, C Nolan 0-6, (1f), J Doyle 0-3, E Byrne, P Coady, R Kelly, D English (f) 0-1 each. Meath: P Conneely 1-7, (6f), G McGowan 0-3, A Gannon 0-2, S Brennan, A Douglas 0-1 each.
Carlow - B Tracey 6; A Corcoran 7, P Doyle 7, M Doyle 7; D Wall 5, D English 7, R Kelly 7; J Murphy 5, K McDonald 6; J M Nolan 6, P Coady 6, E Byrne 8; J Doyle 8, D Murphy 7, C Nolan 9. Subs: E Redmond 5 for Wall (40); T Joyce 5 for D Murphy (52); A Casey for Kelly (70).
Meath - S McGann 6, N Weir 6, S Geraghty 7, D Kelly 6; J Keena 8, D Healy 7, K Keoghan 7; M O'Sullivan 5, A Douglas 7; C McCabe 5, J Kelly 6, P Conneely 9; S Brennan 6, A Gannon 7, G McGowan 8: Subs: K Keena 5 for O'Sullivan (h/t); S Morris for Weir (61); E O'Donnchadha for McCabe (61); N Heffernan for K Keena (66).
Ref - S Keane (Galway).