Champions Ratoath moved a step closer to retaining their Meath SFC crown and a possible football and hurling double, defeating Summerhill in the first of the semi-finals at Páirc Tailteann.
In a repeat of last year’s decider, Ratoath eased to a 1-14 to 1-9 victory following a dominant second-half showing.
It promises to be a hectic number of weeks for the Ratoath men as they have an SHC semi-final against Na Fianna next Sunday, while the football decider is scheduled for October 4.
When the sides clashed at the ultimate stage 12 months ago, five points also separated the teams, though Ratoath had to work a little harder for victory on this occasion.
Intercounty duo Eamonn and Joey Wallace were listed among the substitutes for Ratoath for the first time this season, but neither of the brothers was called into action.
Ratoath were ahead within 15 seconds of the start following a point from Jack Flynn and they held the lead until the stroke of half time when Barry Dardis converted from the penalty spot to give Summerhill a 1-5 to 0-7 advantage.
A Conor Rooney point (free) had the teams level shortly after the restart and Rooney again gained parity for his side from play on 38 minutes.
Flynn’s third point gave Ratoath a lead they did not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
The impressive Daithi McGowan doubled their advantage and there was no way back for the beaten finalists of the last three years after Cian Rogers netted a penalty on 43 minutes.
Ratoath comfortably held off the Summerhill challenge after that.
Their opponents in the final will be Gaeil Colmcille, who produced a dazzling second- half display to defeat Na Fianna 2-15 to 0-13. With Shane Walsh in fine form, Na Fianna led 0-9 to 0-6 at half time and doubled that lead to go 0-12 to 0-6 clear five minutes into the second half.
The outstanding Seamus Mattimoe kick-started the Kells side’s revival before a brilliantly-taken goal from Brian Hanlon had the sides level at the three-quarter stage. Mattimoe continued to weave his magic in the final quarter after Hanlon had given his side the lead from a 45.
Na Fianna went without a score for a full 23 minutes and the game was over as a contest before Fionn Reilly scored his side’s second goal in added time.
Meanwhile, in relegation semi-finals, Seneschalstown and Curraha retained their senior status following wins over Dunshaughlin and Nobber respectively.
Former county star Joe Sheridan announced his retirement after helping Seneschalstown to a 2-18 to 2-9 win in their battle to avoid the drop to intermediate ranks.
Scorer of the infamous goal in the controversial 2010 Leinster final, Sheridan helped his club to championship titles in 2007 and 2009.
Current Meath player James McEntee accounted for seven points for Curraha as they pushed Nobber closer to a swift return to intermediate ranks following a 1-11 to 0-12 win.