Meath got on top in the midfield exchanges early on and Farrell was forced into a switch in that sector at the interval.
“We knew Meath were going to provide a stiff encounter and we’re just glad we came through it,” said Farrell afterwards.
“We were sloppy at times and it will be interesting to review the tape to see what was going on, in certain situations.
“You wouldn’t be happy with our performance in the first half. To go in four points ahead at half-time wasn’t a true reflection of how we performed.
“We came out and kicked a few then but Meath kept plugging away and we were fortunate enough to hold on.”
Farrell continued: “Meath kept asking questions and got through the middle there a few times, and a couple of saves from our keeper just gave us that bit of breathing space.
“On a different day we could have been licking our wounds at this stage of the evening.”
It never came to that but had Meath not shot eight first-half wides and had a well-struck penalty by Barry O’Brien spectacularly saved by Lorcan Molloy, it might have been a different story.
O’Brien, who finished with four points from play, got Meath off the mark in the second minute, having already blasted a glorious opportunity wide directly from the throw-in, but Dublin responded with points from Conor McHugh, Cormac Costello (free) and Eric Lowndes.
Meath brought the gap down to one but were punished for failing to press home their dominance as man of the match, Shane Carthy landed two points — one from play and another from a 45m free — and Costello got his third of the half to leave it 0-7 to 0-3 at half-time.
McHugh might have put an even better gloss on it at the end of a slick move right before Fergal Barry thundered a shot off the crossbar.
Shane McEntee had an early point for Meath after the resumption but Dublin scored the next four, with Costello bringing his tally to five, popping over his final score after Andy Colgan had saved from McHugh.
Seán Barry’s charges continued to throw everything at their opponents and Molloy made another full-length stop, this time from Conor Sheridan, who had thundered through the centre.
Every time the Royals made some headway though, Dublin found an answer, and while Seamus Mattimoe and the electric Joey Wallace hit the target for the Royals, substitute Gavin Burke weighed in with two important scores in reply, and Carthy provided another cultured finish.
The closest Meath got was four points, after O’Brien landed his fourth point from play, and Bryan McMahon slotted a 56th-minute free, but it was McHugh that had the final say, scoring a point from a free.
Scorers for Dublin: C Costello 0-5(3fs); S Carthy, C McHugh 0-3(1f) each; G Burke 0-2; E Lowndes, N Scully 0-1 each
Scorers for Meath: B O’Brien 0-4; S Mattimoe 0-3(2fs); S McEntee, J Wallace, B McMahon(f) 0-1 each
DUBLIN: L Molloy, R McDaid, D Byrne, R McGowan, J Small, P O’Higgins, J McCaffrey, S Carthy, S Cunningham, N Scully, E Lowndes, C Costello, P Mannion, M Deegan, C McHugh.
Subs: S Boland for Deegan (24), G Burke for Cunningham (ht), E Ó Conghaile for Costello (47), S Cunningham for Higgins (54)
MEATH: A Colgan, D McQuillan, C McGill, S Carty, B Power, S Melia, S McEntee, C Sheridan, A Flanagan, N Shortall, B O’Brien, P Harnan, J Wallace, B McMahon, S Mattimoe.
Subs: C Finn for McQuillan (40), A Burke for Carty (46), O Fitzpatrick for Power (52), B Dardis for McEntee (55)
Referee: F Barry (Kildare)
Lorcan Molloy’s 22nd minute penalty save from Barry O’Brien. Meath had already kicked a plethora of wides and after failing to grab a goal here, Dublin scored three points to lead by four at the break.
Peter Mannion had little impact on proceedings as he continues his return from injury.
Niall Scully’s second-half points was a wonderful effort, particularly as it came from forward pressure forcing a turnover. The finish was magnificent.
Shane Carthy was sublime, providing a one-man resistance to Meath’s dominance of the midfield sector and kicking three points.
Seán Barry tried to isolate his speedy attackers inside and while they had some joy, they were never able to threaten goals. Dessie Farrell made midfield changes that were only mildly successful but Gavin Burke did score two points off the bench.
Fergal Barry handled the game well and got the penalty call right. Noticeably up with the play, and no black cards.
Dublin play either Cavan or Donegal in the All-Ireland semi-final on April 19.