Tyrone 0-17 Meath 2-9
Sean Cavanagh rolled back the years with a vintage performance to inspire Tyrone to a first ever championship victory over Meath at Croke Park.
The former Footballer of the Year was back to his brilliant best, hitting eight points to help the Red Hands over the line in an absorbing Qualifier tie.
The Red Hands will not face Ulster neighbours Monaghan in the All-Ireland quarter-finals, and with Cavanagh in this sort of form, they will be confident of making it to the last four.
Meath stunned the Ulster men with goals early in each half, but Mickey Harte’s men had the experience and the guile to pull themselves out of trouble.
Meath got off to a flyer, grabbing a goal after just six minutes.
Mickey Newman slipped the ball inside to Eamonn Wallace, and the Ratoath flyer raced away from marker Ryan McKenna to rifle a low shot past Pascal McConnell.
The Royals held on to their lead throughout the opening quarter, with Newman floating over a couple of frees, one of them from 48 metres.
Darren McCurry got the Red Hands off the mark from a free, and Stephen O’Neill hooked over a second, but it wasn’t until Sean Cavcanagh started to produce some vintage form in the second quarter that they looked comfortable.
Cavanagh steered over three frees, giving hisside the lead for the first time in the 24th minute, and he set Croke Park alight with two wonderful scores from play to rally his side.
Meath continued to press, however, and when Joe Sheridan crossed from the right, goalkeeper Pascal McConnell had to be alert to punch the ball away, with Newman converting the resultant ’45.
Bray landed a superb score, but Tyrone finished the first half strongly, with points from Mattie Donnelly and McCurry, from a ’45, to lead by 0-11 to 1-4 at the break.
Newman smashed home a 40th minute penalty, awarded for Conor Gormley’s foul on Seamus Kenny, and Meath were right back in it.
Wallace brought them level five minutes later, and his second point regained the lead for the Leinster men for the first time since the 22nd minute.
Tyrone needed inspiration from somewhere, and not surprisingly, it came from that man Cavanagh, who rallied the troops, and set up a point for substitute Aidan Cassidy.
Cavanagh and McCurry added points as the Red Hands went back in front by three, but they had to deal with another Meath flourish, Wallace and Newman both on target.
Newman also saw an effort come back off post, and Wallace should have done better with a couple of scoring chances, while Stephen Bray was also wide with a decent opportunity.
Cavanagh landed his eighth score to make it an eight point game, and Newman was forced to go for goal direct from a free in the closing stages, but Pascal McConnell dealt comfortably with the kick.
Tyrone: P McConnell, R McKenna, C Clarke, C McCarron, C McGinley, P Harte, C Gormley, C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-8, 6f), Mattie Donnelly (0-2), Mark Donnelly, Joe McMahon, D McCurry (0-5, 3f, 1 ’45, S O’Neill (0-1), M Penrose.
Subs: A Cassidy (0-1) for Mark Donnelly, D Carlin for McKenna, K Coney for Penrose, P McNeice for C Cavanagh
Meath: P O'Rourke, D Keoghan, K Reilly, B Menton, P Harnan, M Burke, S Kenny, B Meade, C Gillespie, E Wallace (1-3), D Carroll, G Reilly, S Bray (0-1), J Sheridan, M Newman (1-5, 1-0 pen, 4f, 1’45).
Subs: B Farrell for Sheridan, P Byrne for Carroll, A Tormey for Meade, C Lenihan for Kenny
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).