Both O’Dowd and the Longford boss Glenn Ryan fielded teams that featured a number of newcomers but it was the experienced Joe Sheridan who figured most prominently at midfield as the visitors eventually came out on top by the narrow margin of two points.
Sheridan was particularly impressive in the first half as Meath recovered from the concession of a soft goal in the 14th minute to lead by 1-6 to 1-3 at the break and the decisive score came in the 22nd minute when Damien Carroll planted a penalty in the back of the Longford net.
Home keeper Paddy Collum was penalised for a foot block on Meath forward Paddy Gilsenan as he attempted a shot on goal while the Meath points in the first half were scored by Peadar Byrne, Mickey Newman (2), Jamie Queeney (2) and prominent wing back Stephen Crosbie.
Donal McElligott grabbed the Longford goal when he flicked a Kevin Diffley pass to the net and McElligott also landed a point with the other scores in the first half coming from frees converted by Sean McCormack.
While Meath extended their advantage to four points following further scores from Gilsenan and Crosbie in the third quarter, Longford managed to remain in contention with a fine strike from Francis McGee and gradually closed the gap in a determined bid to avoid defeat.
Both sides were guilty of kicking a number of bad wides during the second half and while Longford added three more points to their tally through a brace from Sean McCormack (play and free) with JJ Matthews also getting his name on the scoresheet it was not enough to salvage the situation.
Although Meath only managed one more score through defender Cormac Rowe in the 63rd minute, they never really looked like letting victory slip from their grasp in their quest to qualify for the O’Byrne Cup semi-finals and ran out deserving winners of a scrappy encounter played in difficult wet conditions.
“It was a good win away from home,” said the Skyrne clubman. “It was nice to come down and get it.“Before the game, we were looking for a high work rate from everybody on the team. And I thought we saw that throughout the pitch today.”
LONGFORD: P Collum; P Foy, B Gilleran, F Battrim; CP Smyth, K Diffley, S Mulligan; J Keegan, Michael Brady; S Doyle, A Rowan, S McCormack (0-4, 3f); JJ Matthews (0-1), D McElligott (1-1), F McGee (0-1).
Subs: B McElvaney for Doyle (46); C Quaine for Keegan (52).
MEATH: D. Lyons; C. Young, D. Keogan, D. Dalton; C. Rowe (0-1), E. Harrington, S. Crosbie (0-2); G Reilly, J. Sheridan; P. Gilsenan (0-1), D. Carroll (1-0, penalty), J. Queeney (0-2); D. McDonagh, P. Byrne (0-1), M. Newman (0-2).
Subs: C King for Keogan (inj, h-t); B Farrell for McDonagh (55); M Collins for Gilsenan (55); B Sheridan for Reilly (60); S Curran for Young (67).
Referee: P Kneel (Louth).