Derry 1-14 Meath 1-11
Meath manager Mick O’Dowd stepped down after his side surrendered a seven-point lead before limping out of the All-Ireland Qualifier series at Owenbeg, writes Francis Mooney.
Mickey Newman’s first half goal helped them to a 1-8 to 0-4 interval lead, but a resurgent Derry side, inspired by Mark Lynch, fought back to dump the Royals and book their place in the last 16 of the All-Ireland race.
The Leinster side led almost throughout, before being stunned by a 68th-minute goal from substitute Niall Loughlin.
Wind-assisted Meath made a strong start, opening up a six points lead inside the opening six minutes.
Graham Reilly steered over a couple of points, while Padraig Harnan and Mickey Newman, from a 48 metre free, also hit the target, and Derry’s massed defence appeared powerless to stop the support runners from deep.
It wasn’t until the 16th minute that Eoghan Brown sent Mark Lynch for Derry’s opening score.
But Meath crafted a goal chance, Donal Lenihan sending his shot just wide at the far post after collecting Cillian O’Sullivan’s diagonal ball.
The Leinster men did get the goal they had been threatening in the 26th minute. Reilly charged through the middle to set up Donnacha Tobin for a shot, which was finished at the far post by Newman.
Newman could have had another, but for a superb block by Gareth McKinless, and Meath were coasting at the break, ahead by 1-8 to 0-4.
But a resurgent start to the second half saw them hit a series of scores through Lynch, Christopher Bradley, Eoghan Brown and Kielt.
And when Kielt thumped over a long range free in the 44th minute, just a point separated the sides.
Lynch’s influence was restricted thereafter by a shoulder injury, but he still contributed a point from a free, after Mickey Bourke and Newman had hit back with Meath points.
Strangely, Meath boss Mick O’Dowd replaced ace attacker Newman, who did not appear to be injured, in the 49th minute, and his side managed just one further point, a free converted by substitute Andrew Tormey.
Derry continued to build, with Gareth McKinless revelling at the back with a superb defensive display, and they repelled a series of Meath raids.
However, the Leinster men were still clinging on to a slender lead until the 68th minute, when substitute Niall Loughlin struck for a goal.
He collected from Kielt to turn his marker and slot the ball low to the net past Paddy O’Rourke, and the visitors had no answer.
Derry: T Mallon, G McKinless, C McKaigue (0-01), K McKaigue, C McFaul, B Rogers, C Mullan, C McAtamney, N Holly, D Heavron, C Bradley (0-1), E Brown (0-1), J Kielt (0-4, 3f), E McGuckin, M Lynch (0-6, 2f).
Subs: N Toner for McGuckin (27), N Loughlin (1-0) for Brown (47), E Bradley for Holly (47), E Lynn (0-1) for C Bradley (51), N Forrester for Rogers (BC 59), L McGoldrick for Mullan (63).
Meath: P O’Rourke, D Tobin, D Keogan, M Burke (0-01), D Smyth, P Harnan (0-1), A Douglas, H Rooney, C O’Brien, G Reilly (0-2), C O’Sullivan (0-2, 2f), B McMahon, D Lenihan, S Lavin, M Newman (1-4, 0-3f).
Subs: E Wallace for McMahon (41), D McDonagh for Newman (49), A Tormey (0-1, f) for Lenihan (55) S Tobin for Keogan (59)
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).