IT was a highly relieved Offaly side that walked off the field after being given a major fright by underdogs Meath in Tullamore on Saturday night.
A late goal from substitute Dylan Keenan cut the deficit to just two points and Meath were within touching distance of a shock win. Offaly, however, just managed to hang on and progress to a quarter-final against Laois.
The first half was tight. Points from Jack Regan kept Meath in touch, but a goal from Cillian Kiely helped Offaly to a 1-8 to 0-9 interval lead.
The second half was a tame affair with Offaly unable to reach top gear.
A Kevin Dunne goal seven minutes from time gave them a six-point lead, but Meath staged a stirring rally that put them in sight of a famous victory. However, it was not quite enough to overhaul Offaly.
Scorers -- Offaly: C Kiely 1-3 (1f), D Murray 0-5 (4f) K Dunne 1-0, E Nolan, S O'Connor, G Crowe, A Spain, K Bergin 0-1 each. Meath: J Regan 0-10 (8f), D Keenan 1-1, S Kelly, V Moore, D Kelly 0-1 each.
Offaly -- C Clancy; D Murphy, A Browne, R Kelly; E Nolan, C Doughan, E Pilkington; S O'Connor, C Mahon; G Crowe, K Dunne, K Bergin; A Spain, C Kiely, D Murray. Subs: A Connolly for C Mahon (25), B Connors for G Crowe (50), J Nally for S O'Connor (50), P Rigney for R Kelly (59).
Meath -- C Bird; S Benville, S Whitty, L Ferguson; C Darby, D Kelly, S Doyle; S Kelly, L Rickard; D Reilly, V Moore, J Regan; J Fagan, G McGowan, K Ryan. Subs: D Keenan for K Ryan (43), S Lenihan for S Doyle (46), J Wall for J Fagan (50), C Reilly for D Kelly (50), G Ryan for G McGowan (60).
Ref -- K Brady (Louth).