Meath 1-20 Carlow 0-17
The prolonged Kehoe Cup competition came to an end this afternoon, four-and-a-half months after the semi-finals, with Meath emerging as the winners thanks to a 1-20 to 0-17 victory over Carlow at O'Moore Park.
Half-forward Niall Hackett, the man of the match, hit 1-08 for the eventual winners.
The Dunboyne player was in outstanding form throughout this game with his first half injury-time goal from a 65-metre free setting the tone for a well-deserved Royal victory.
The sides were level on four occasions inside the first 11-and-a-half minutes, with a Stephen Lynch brace and a point each from Hackett and Michael Cole accounting for Meath's early scores.
Robert Foley (0-02), Damien Roberts and Shane Kavanagh shared the Carlow points, but once defender Tony Fox put Meath back in front in the 12th-minute, the Royals were never headed.
There were some excellent scores from both sides including a well-taken Cole point in the 13th-minute, as Meath broke two points clear for the first time in the contest.
Brendan Lawlor hit a '65' for Carlow two minutes later, but as the game entered the second quarter, Meath went on a scoring streak and were almost impossible to halt before the interval.
Four unanswered points ensured John Andrews' men built up a 'double scores' advantage after 19 minutes of play.
Carlow came back into contention and the margin was reduced to three points, five minutes before the interval.
However, Meath finished the half strongly and with Hackett firing home the only goal of the game, his side led by 1-14 to 0-9 at the break.
The Barrowsiders came out strongly in the second half and got the first score after the break, with centre-back Shane Kavanagh slotting over his second free.
Yet Meath were a stronger force from backs to forwards, and although Carlow hit the last four points of the game, it was a case of too little too late for them.
Meath's strong first half display stood to them and their captain Stephen Clynch accepted the cup afterwards.
MEATH: S Quinn; S Donoghue, E Fitzgerald, M Horan; K Dowd, A Ryan, T Fox (0-01); A Snow, D Crimmins (0-02); N Hackett (1-08, 0-06f, 1-01 '65'), N Horan (0-01), S Clynch (0-04); G O Neill, N Kirby, M Cole (0-04).
Subs used: P Geoghan for Snow (21 mins), S Donoghue for Kirby (66), P Gannon for Crimmins (70+2).
CARLOW: M Ryan; A Gaul, D Shaw, J Rodgers; E Coady, S Kavanagh (0-02, 0-02f), R Coady; D Roberts (0-02), K English; A Brennan (0-02), C Hughes (0-02), P Kehoe; S Murphy (0-01), R Foley (0-05), B Lawler (0-02, 0-01f).
Subs used: J Coady for English (23 mins), J Doran (0-01) for Kehoe (half-time), J Kavanagh for Lawler (47), D Byrne for S Murphy (67).
Referee: Tony Carroll (Offaly)