It wasn't without a scare, but Kerry secured their place in the All-Ireland SFC semi-finals with an anxious victory over a plucky Meath at Pairc Tailteann this evening.

Sean O'Shea was the star of the Kingdom kicking 1-8 and it was his 43rd minute goal that gave his side a 2-10 to 1-10 lead and left their Royal hosts chasing a lost cause.

Meath were brave in their bid and despite having nothing to play for they gave Kerry their fill of it before the Munster champions flexed their muscles to see out the game with a comfortable margin.

Meath were every bit a match for Kerry in the opening half and even though the visitors started well with Sean O'Shea (two) and David Moran adding points after O'Shea and Bryan McMahon had traded early scores to give the Kingdom a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after seven minutes.

Paul Geaney battles against Meath's Conor McGill 

Shane Walsh (free) and Killian Spillane exchanged scores before Meath were denied a penalty after Cillian O'Sullivan looked to be fouled, but as Kerry scrambled Ethan Devine was impeded and Walsh converted the free to make it 0-3 to 0-5.

Quickfire scores from Thomas O'Reilly and Darragh Campion had Meath level, but after Paul Geaney dragged a goal chance wide Marcus Brennan was beaten in the 16th minute when Brian O Beaglaoich netted from close range.

After going 10 minutes without a score Meath replied with a point from McMahon and in the 24th minute a brilliant run by the impressive O'Sullivan set up Campion for a fine goal which gave the hosts the lead for the first time, 1-6 to 1-5.

Kerry restored their lead through O'Shea (free) and Geaney, but Walsh continued to torment Tadhg Morley and fired a goal chance over the bar to restore parity for the fourth time.

Kerry looked like running away with it in the closing minutes of the half as stephen O'Brien, Tom O'Sullivan and Spillane made it 1-10 to 1-7, but in first-half injury-time Walsh and Devine were on target to close the deficit to 1-9 to 1-10 at the break.

Andy McEntee's Meath have had a frustrating Super 8s campaign

The second-half was littered with fouls, errors and three black cards, but was Meath who burst from the traps to restore parity through Walsh.

Six minutes later O'Shea bagged the all-important second goal and even though Walsh replied with a pointed free Meath didn't score for another 15 minutes as Kerry survived black cards for Gavin White and Stephen O'Brien before Moran and Geaney kicked points to make it 2-12 to 1-11.

McMahon eventually ended Meath barren spell in the 59th minute, but they added just one more point from Bryan Menton as Kerry stumbled over the line with O'Shea adding four more points (two frees and a '45') and Spillane and O Beaglaoich also on target.

Kerry: Shane Ryan; Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O'Sullivan (0-1); Paul Murphy, Gavin Crowley, Brian O Beaglaoich (1-1); David Moran (0-2), Adrian Spillane; Gavin White, Sean O'Shea (1-8 four frees, one '45), Stephen O'Brien (0-1); Micheal Burns, Paul Geaney (0-2), Killian Spillane (0-3).

Subs: Dara Moynihan for Burns 31m, Tommy Walsh for Crowley 39m, Shane Enright for White (bc) 45m, Jack Sherwood for A Spillane 46m, Jonathan Lyne for O'Brien (bc) 52m, Jack Barry for K Spillane 68m.

Meath: Marcus Brennan; Seamus Lavin, ConorMcGill, Shane Gallagher; Donal Keogan, Padraic Harnan, Gavin McCoy; Bryan Menton (0-1), Shane McEntee; Ethan Devine (0-1), Bryan McMahon (0-3), Darragh Campion (1-1); Cillian O'Sullivan, Shane Walsh (0-6 three frees), Thomas O'Reilly (0-1).

Subs: Thomas McGovern for McEntee 23 mins, Ross Ryan for McCoy 45m, James Conlon for O'Reilly 50m, Niall Kane for McGovern (bc) 54m, Mickey Burke for Devine 64m, Sean Tobin for McMahon 66m.

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).