Meath reached their third successive Leinster SFC final with a 2-16 to 0-17 win over Kildare at Croke Park.
Stephen Bray’s three points and Andrew Tormey’s stoppage-time penalty helped the Royals to a 1-09 to 0-07 interval lead.
Dalton McDonagh missed some golden chances in the first half but he makes no mistake with a goal shortly after the restart.
Kildare came from 12 points behind with scores from Padraig O’Neill, Padraig Fogarty and Eamonn Callaghan, but they fluffed a handful of goal chances and paid the price for loose defending in the first half.
Kildare’s defence was repeatedly stretched and exposed by an adventurous Meath side, and goalkeeper Mark Donnellan had to come to their rescue with three excellent saves.
The Lilywhites did carry an offensive threat in the opening stages, but managed just three Padraig Fogarty points.
Meath, with wing-back Damien Carroll a constant threat with his strong, surging runs into opposition territory, targeted Stephen Bray with quality ball, and he responded with a couple of scores.
Shane O’Rourke and goalkeeper Paddy O’Rourke, from a ’45, were also on target as the Royals eased into a two points lead by the end of the opening quarter.
But for the efforts of Mick Foley and Hugh McGrillen at the back, Kildare would have fallen further behind, and somehow they got themselves level by the 24th minute when Eamon Callaghan landed a point.
Graham Reilly chipped in with a score, and Bray combined power with balance to round marker McGrillen for another quality score.
But he should have spotted Dalton McDonagh in the clear when he skirted through again to fire a shot into the side netting.
Donnellan, who had earlier denied McDonagh, produced an excellent double save from the same player, and Joe Wallace also missed a goal chance when his shiot came back off the crossbar.
Kildare had narrowed the gap through Padraig O’Neill when the Royals were awarded a penalty for a foul on McDonagh, which Andrew Tormey netted in stoppage time for a 1-09 to 0-07 interval lead.
McDonagh finally got the goal he had been threatening when he picked up a loose ball to roll a low shot past Donnellan three minutes into the second half
Paddy O’Rourke’s 50-metre free opened up a 12-points lead, and still the Lilywhites made no moves to shore up their defence, while their attack struggled to break down a packed Meath rearguard.
Nevertheless, Jason Ryan’s side did pull back scores through Fogarty, Alan Smith and O’Neill.
And their loyalty to the attacking strategy was further rewarded with a succession of scores.
Tommy Moolick and Padraig O’Neill raised their game at midfield, and they shared five points as the Lilywhites raided time after time.
Ryan sprung Tomas O’Connor from the bench as a target man to create goal chances, and they came close on more than one occasion, with Moolick driving a couple over the bar and Alan Smith smashing a shot against a post.
Meath were on the back foot almost constantly during the final 20 minutes, but they were able to get points on the break through Wallace and David Bray to keep their opponents at arm’s length.
Meath: P O'Rourke (0-02, 1f, 1 ’45), E Harrington, K Reilly, B Menton, P Harnan, D Keogan, D Carroll (0-02), B Meade, S O’Rourke (0-01), D Tobin, D McDonagh (1-00), A Tormey (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-02f), G Reilly (0-01), S Bray (0-04), B McMahon.
Subs: J Wallace (0-01) for McMahon, A Flanagan for Meade, S Kenny for Carroll, M Burke for K Reilly, D Bray (0-01) for Tobin
Kildare: M Donnellan, H McGrillen, M Foley, E Bolton; O Lyons, F Conway, K Cribbin, T Moolick (0-02), P O' Neill (0-03), C McNally, E Callaghan (0-03), S Hurley, N Kelly (0-01), P Fogarty (0-06, 4f), P Brophy.
Subs: A Smith (0-02) for Brophy, G White for Foley, C Fitzpatrick for Hurley, E Doyle for Bolton, E O’Flaherty for McNally, T O’Connor for Fogarty
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).