Cavan 1-20 Meath 1-13
Seanie Johnston made a stunning return to the Cavan team with six points at Pairc Tailteann to inspire their first win of the Allianz football league, easing their relegation fears in Division 2.
The former captain and ex-Kildare player was recalled to the lineup and paid boss Terry Hyland back with a thrilling display as Cavan remarkably came from eight points down to win by seven.
The Breffni men trailed by that eight-point margin with 39 minutes on the clock but turned in a brilliant second-half performance to win comfortably.
Cavan outscored Meath by 1-15 to 0-05 in that half with David Givney's 45th minute goal giving them the belief to reel in and overcome their neighbours.
But it was another huge lead coughed up by Meath who famously let slip a 10-point advantage on Westmeath in last year's Championship.
They have no room for error in their remaining four games if they want to finally achieve promotion.
Meath came out on top when the sides met at the same venue in the final round of last year's Division 2 campaign. Both teams went into that contest believing that a win could get them promoted to Division 1.
Meath won that contest but Roscommon and Down went up regardless.
The stakes weren't quite as high this time though Terry Hyland's Cavan did require a win to ease their relegation fears.
They had already lost narrowly to Tyrone and Derry and knew that a third straight defeat would leave them in a tricky position.
As for Meath, they started the campaign well with an impressive win over Armagh before being held to just six points in their loss to Fermanagh.
It was an energetic contest in ideal conditions though on a pitch that was heavily sanded. Cavan had plenty of early opportunities but blasted nine first-half wides. Johnston scored two early points but also missed a couple and hit the cross bar with a rasping drive.
Meath were far more efficient at the other end initially and hit the interval with a commanding 1-09 to 0-05 lead.
Free-taker Mickey Newman helped himself to four points while Eamon Wallace grabbed 1-01 in that opening half.
Wallace's 22nd-minute goal was a beauty as the former sprinter raced clear, playing clever one-twos with Mickey Burke and Donnacha Tobin before scoring from a tight angle.
Johnston had another goal chance after the restart but eventually settled for a point. Cavan were coming good though and finally hit the net in the 45th minute through David Givney.
Givney turned smartly in the goal area, selling his man a solo dummy before poking low past Paddy O'Rourke to the Meath net.
It capped a scoring burst of 1-03 without reply from Cavan and left Meath leading by just 1-10 to 1-08.
Johnston's fourth point reduced the gap to just one with 20 minutes to go and sub Niall Murray tied it up at 1-11 apiece soon after.
Meath momentarily moved ahead again with a Wallace point, taking his tally to 1-03 for the afternoon. But it was all Cavan from there on and they cut Meath open at will, scoring two separate bursts of four points without reply.
Meath lost goalkeeper Paddy O'Rourke to a red card for an off-the-ball clash deep into injury-time.
Cavan: R Galligan (0-01, 0-01f); P Faulkner, K Clarke, J McLoughlin (0-01); G McKiernan (0-02), C Moynagh (0-02), C Brady; T Corr (0-01), F Flanagan; D McVeety (0-03), D Givney (1-00), M Reilly; C Mackey, M Argue (0-01), S Johnston (0-06, 0-02f).
Subs: N Murray (0-02) for Flanagan, K Brady for Reilly, P O'Connor (0-01) for Mackey, J Brady for Johnston, L Murphy for McLoughlin, B Sankey for McKiernan.
Meath: P O'Rourke; B Power, C McGill, D Keogan; D Smyth, P Harnan, M Burke; H Rooney, G Reilly (0-02); E Wallace (1-03), C O'Sullivan, D Tobin (0-01); S Tobin (0-03, 0-02f), M Newman (0-04, 0-03f), D Lenihan.
Subs: C Finn for Smyth, J O'Reilly for Finn, A Tormey for Power, M Battersby for O'Sullivan.
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).