Antrim will play Kerry in next month's Joe McDonagh Cup final at Croke Park after dispatching Meath in Navan to secure top spot in the table.

The Saffrons already had one foot in the December 13 final at Croke Park though a heavy defeat, allied to Carlow winning elsewhere, could have potentially cost them.

Darren Gleeson's men did concede an early goal to Meath and trailed for most of the first half but 0-09 without reply in the minutes either side of the interval put them in a winning position.

And they added another unanswered 1-10 in the second half to secure their latest win long before the full-time whistle.

Michael Bradley starred for Antrim with 0-08 from play while free-taker Ciaran Clarke sniped 0-12 and there were goals from Niall McKenna and Daniel McCloskey.

The defeat leaves Meath still chasing a first win in the Joe McDonagh Cup following two campaigns which have yielded nine losses from nine outings.

The final will be a repeat of last month's Allianz League Division 2A decider which Antrim won by three points while, more recently, the northerners beat Kerry 3-18 to 2-14 in the McDonagh Cup.

This was Antrim's third win of the campaign and they've progressed without talisman attacker Neil McManus who was injured in the Division 2A final win.

They struggled initially against a Meath side desperately seeking a result to put some gloss on their championship campaign.

Nick Weir's men, without the suspended Jack Regan who was red-carded against Westmeath last weekend, struck a fourth minute goal through James Kelly.

The sides were briefly tied at 1-02 to 0-05 but Meath surged clear again with a three-in-a-row of points from Kelly, Patrick Potterton and Padraic O'Hanrahan and were two points ahead with 29 minutes played.

Antrim took off from there and reeled off six points without reply to close out the half with a 1-13 to 1-09 lead, and three more scores immediately after the restart left them sitting pretty.

Darren Gleeson's Antrim have a great record against Kerry this year

Trailing now by seven points, Meath gave themselves some hope with a 42nd minute goal from Stephen Morris who slammed a low shot to the net from 13 metres.

But it was a brief reprieve for the overwhelmed Royals as Antrim hit the afterburners again, this time reeling off 1-10 without reply.

Ryan McGarry got the scoring siege underway and McCloskey grabbed Antrim's second goal with 20 minutes to go.

Meath sub Daithi McGowan broke the Antrim scoring series and Damien Healy pulled back a late goal for Meath but it was far too little, far too late.

Antrim: Conor McAllister; Stephen Rooney, Matthew Donnelly, Phelim Duffin; Gerard Walsh, Paddy Burke, Ryan McGarry (0-01); Eoghan Campbell (0-01), Aodhan O'Brien; Niall McKenna (1-00), James McNaughton (0-02), Michael Bradley (0-08); Ciaran Clarke (0-12, 0-10f), Conor McCann (0-02), Daniel McCloskey (1-00).

Subs: Damon McMullan (0-01) for Walsh (45), Donal Nugent (0-01) for McCann (45), Nicky McKeague (0-02) for McKenna (50), Eoin O'Neill for McCloskey (60), Conor Johnston for McGarry (64).

Meath: Charlie Ennis; Mickey Burke, Shane Brennan, Sean Geraghty; Ben McGowan, Darragh Kelly (0-01, 0-01f), Shane Whitty; Patrick Potterton (0-01), Padraic O'Hanrahan (0-02, 0-01f, 0-01 65); James Kelly (1-01), Stephen Morris (1-00), Alan Douglas (0-02); Jack Walsh (0-01), Daithi McGowan (0-01), Keith Keoghan (0-01).

Subs: Patrick Conneely for Geraghty (29), Damien Healy (1-00, 1-00f) for Walsh (47), Jack McGowan for Morris (51), Nicholas Potterton for Koeghan (64), Eamonn O Donnnchadha for O'Hanrahan (64).

Referee: David Hughes (Kilkenny).