Meath will be kicking themselves they left this Joe McDonagh Cup third-round game behind them.
Coming in, the Royals knew they would have to contend with Marty Kavanagh and Chris Nolan, two Carlow forwards who would, arguably, get onto any team in Ireland.
The Royals did well in limiting the pair to a total of 0-6 from play but Kavanagh still scored 1-13 over the 70 minutes, netting a penalty and landing 11 placed balls.
However, 17 wides from the visitors hurt them badly and while they were coming at the end, Carlow got over the line by that single point.
In a tight opening six minutes, Carlow twice held a two-point lead, Marty Kavanagh landing two frees and Jon Nolan and Jack Kavanagh also finding the posts.
Carlow struggled to turn their clearances into attacks and the vigilant visitors snapped up a lot loose ball, being rewarded with some excellent long-range points from Pauric O'Hanrahan, Paddy Conneely and Keith Keoghan. At the end of the quarter the teams were tied at 0-6 each.
The water break came at the right time for the home side. On the resumption, Eddie Byrne rose high and, on landing, made space for himself to fire over.
It got better for Carlow shortly afterwards when Kevin McDonald was tripped in front of goal and Marty Kavanagh converted the resultant penalty.
Meath were rattled and by the break the Barrowsiders had stretched into a 1-13 to 0-10 lead.
That lead was extended when the Nolan brothers, Chris and Jon, both pointed after the restart but Pauric O’Hanrahan and Jack Regan replied in kind for Meath.
At the second water break, the home side were 1-19 to 0-15 ahead. It looked to be enough but Meath instigated a tremendous fight back.
In the final quarter, Regan, was excellent from placed balls and Carlow lived dangerously, with their full back, Paul Doyle, being asked all sorts of questions.
The big St Mullins man used all his experienced to fend off danger and when four minutes came up on the board, Carlow led by five points.
That was pared down by another Regan free and in the 74th minute the ball ran loose in the Carlow square, substitute Damien Healy getting the touch to force the ball over the line at the scoreboard end of the ground.
It was just too late to save the visitors and, to Carlow’s relief, the final whistle came on the puck out.
Carlow: Brian Tracey; Michael Doyle, Paul Doyle, Gary Bennett; Ger Coady, David English, Diarmuid Byrne; Jack Kavanagh (0-2), Paul Coady; John Michael Nolan, Jon Nolan (0-2), Eddie Byrne (0-1); Marty Kavanagh (1-13 0-11 frs 1-0 pen), Kevin McDonald, Chris Nolan (0-4).
Subs: Aaron Amond for McDonald (blood 20), Amond for J.M. Nolan (52), Cathal Tracey for Coady (57), Richard Coady for J. Kavanagh (63), Eoin Hosey for J. Nolan (74).
Meath: Mark McCormack; Michael Burke, Shane Brennan, Sean Geraghty; Shane Whitty, Darragh Kelly (0-3), Keith Keoghan (0-2); Pauric O Hanrahan (0-4, 3 frs), Paddy Conneely (0-1); Jack Walsh (0-2), Stephen Morris, Alan Douglas (0-1); Adam Gannon (0-1), Jack Regan (0-6, 65, 0-5frs), Eamonn O Donnchadha.
Subs: Daithi McGowan (0-1) for O Donnchadha (22), James Kelly for O Hanrahan (43), Cathal McCabe for Morris (46), Damien Healy (1-0) for Walsh (55), Jack McGowan for Conneely (55).
Referee: Rory McGann (Clare)