Corner-forward Bryan McMahon got the Royals off to a flying start after taking a pass from David Larkin to finish with aplomb.
Meath also finished the contest with a goal as sub Dalton McDonagh ran on to a great delivery from full-back Kevin Reilly and netted from close range for what was the decisive score with seven minutes remaining.
Louth looked set to cause an upset when Shane Lennon converted a penalty to edge his side into a 1-10 to 1-8 lead in the 51st minute. The Wee County had the momentum but didn’t have the know-how to close out the game.
The hosts had the advantage of the strong breeze throughout the opening half but only led 0-8 to 1-4 at the break.
Meath were level within two minutes of the restart following a fine score from Graham Reilly and they then raced into the lead with a brace from Andrew Tormey.
Another excellent score from Graham Reilly maintained that advantage but Louth continued to battle gamely.
The tempo of the game increased following that penalty goal, awarded for a foul on Cian Doyle by Seamus Kenny. Louth eventually went three clear but Aidan O’Rourke’s side managed only one more point.
Fouls on Damien Carroll resulted in two pointed frees from McMahon to again leave a single point between the teams with 10 minutes left.
The Meath men then demonstrated their killer instinct with a goal almost out of nothing.
Scorers for Meath: B McMahon 1-3 (0-3f), D McDonagh 1-0, A Tormey, G Reilly, S Bray 0-2 each, D Bray 0-1.
Scorers for Louth: B White 0-4, 1f (1 ‘45), S Lennon 1-1 (1-0 pen), D Crilly 0-3, D Byrne 0-2, A McDonnell, C Doyle 0-1 each.
MEATH: C McHugh; D Keogan, K Reilly, C Young; S Kenny, D Tobin, D Carroll; B Menton, S O’Rourke; D Larkin, A Tormey, G Reilly; D Bray, S Bray, B McMahon.
Subs: P Harnan for Tobin (49), D McDonagh for D Bray (49), S Gillespie for G Reilly (61), P Gilsenan for Larkin (61), M O’Sullivan for McMahon (67).
LOUTH: N Gallagher; P Rath, M Fanning, J O’Brien; D O’Hanlon, D Crilly, A Reid; P Keenan, D Byrne; P Reilly, B White, B Duffy; A McDonnell, S Lennon, K Rogers.
Subs: C Doyle for Rogers (17), J Stewart for Duffy (44), L Shevlin for Reilly (60), D Clarke for Doyle (67).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).