Bryan McMahon's goal was crucial for Meath as they avoided a shock against Division 3 side Offaly in the Leinster football championship clash in Navan.

The Royals led by three points at the break, thanks in part to a brace of points each for Michael Newman and Cillian O'Sullivan.

Then a strong third quarter saw the Faithful county score seven points on the spin, to leave Andy McEntee's side staring the backdoor in the face.

But McMahon's goal helped to swing the momentum back in their favour.

"I hope we don't find ourselves in that position again in a hurry," was Meath manager McEntee's viewpoint when he spoke with RTÉ Sport's John Kenny afterwards. "The truth of the matter is that we didn't play well enough."

McMahon's goal helped Meath to progress

"Offaly could consider themselves unlucky not to have got something out of the game.

"Our ball retention was poor, our option taking was poor, and then we went through a phase where Offaly got some really good scores. I think we made it easy for them on a number of occasions.

"It was frustrating for the players as much as anything else. I think they expect higher things of themselves, and they were frustrated. We were frustrated, and you could sense the crowd getting a little bit on edge.

"If everyone is honest with themselves, they probably wouldn't be happy with the performance."

This time last year Meath were beaten by Longford at Pearse Park, before losing to Tyrone in controversial circumstances in the qualifiers. So in that, at least, Sunday represented progress for McEntee's squad.

"It's probably a game we wouldn't have won this time last year, or two years ago," said the Meath manager. "They showed loads of ability, in that sphere, over the course of the league. It mightn't have been pretty, but the bottom line is we got the job done."

Next up for the Royals is a date with Carlow in just under two weeks' time.

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But for Offaly, it was a case of so close and yet so far away.

Manager John Maughan had spoken to RTÉ about his desire to see a two-tier championship in the future, but his side nearly managed to get a result against a side who'll be playing Division 1 next year.

"I think we had everything but the result," Maughan said on the day he became the first person to manage a county in all four provinces. "I was very, very proud of the performance.

"We were four up, and had chances to go five or six up, we didn't, but they didn't bend the knee today, Offaly. I thought they were fantastic. They showed great resilience, great character, and great pride in the jersey.

"We came in here with no fear, and played exceptionally well. We had Meath rattled. I could sense it on the pitch obviously, but on the sideline beside me they began to empty the bench very early.

"It was certainly there for us, but unfortunately we didn't avail of the opportunity. We're a better team coming out of here today, albeit with a loss."