A 16-point win was in vain as Kerry were pipped to top spot and a Hastings Cup semi-final place at Kildangan in Tipperary on Saturday.
A hat-trick of opening half goals from Legion’s Conor Keane set the Kingdom up for a 3-4 to 0-5 interval lead against the hapless Meath men who had lost by 23 points in Round 2.
The Royals fared somewhat better on this occasion but they leaked two more goals in the second-half against Darragh Ó Sé’s charges. Dara Roche and substitute Jack Savage both found the net late on but their score difference proved inferior to holders Roscommon who were 1-12 to 0-7 victors over Cavan. Consolation for the Kingdom though is a last four place of the Shield competition.
Scorers for Kerry: C Keane (3-2), D Roche (1-2), J Savage (1-1), M Burns (0-2), R Murphy, J Barry (0-1 each).
Scorers for Meath: C Rooney (0-2), S Lenihan, S Meade, K Ryan, P
Harnan (free), C Doran, R O’Rourke (free, 0-1 each).
KERRY: D Ó Shea; C Coffey, G Crowley, C Murphy; C O Luing, D Daly, R Murphy; J Barry, E Ó Conchuir; M Burns, B Crowley, L Carey; D Roche, C Fitzgerald, C Keane.
Subs: J Savage for Carey (44); G O’Sullivan for Ó Conchuir (55); M Flaherty for Fitzgerald (55).
MEATH: C Farnan; M Flood, G McGowan, N Lenehan; K Traynor, S McEntee, R Blaney; B Duggan, P Harnan; C Carton, O Reilly, C Rooney; K Ryan, S Lenihan, S Meade.
Subs: L Ferguson for Lenehan (half-time); J Daly for Meade (35); N Kane for Traynor (35); C Doran for Carton (40); R O’Rourke for Ryan (47); B Harnan for Reilly (47).