A last gasp winner from substitute James Conlon maintained Meath's hold over Clare in Cusack Park Ennis in the penultimate round of Allianz National Football League Division 2.

In front of an attendance of 1,375, a defensive home error proved costly in the 73rd minute when Conlon raided for a dramatic point to cement a fifth consecutive victory over the Banner since 2017.

A draw appeared to be the fairest and most likely result up to that juncture after the sides have been level on six occasions.

Meath were also the most economical side early on, with Jordan Morris (2) and Shane Walsh converting successive frees to move 0-3 to 0-0 clear by the end of the opening quarter. The home side meanwhile were much more wasteful with three wides along with seeing a glorious goal chance for Emmet McMahon excellently repelled by goalkeeper Harry Hogan.

Clare did make up the ground in a much more open second quarter, regaining full parity by the 28th minute thanks to a 40 metre opener from Eoin Cleary along with a brace of Keelan Sexton frees.

The visitors twice resisted through Shane Walsh and Bryan Menton only to be matched each time by the Banner who, inevitably through captain Cleary, went in level at the break at 0-5 to 0-5.

The roles would be reversed on the turnover as it was Clare that consistently edged in front four times but could never put any clear daylight between the sides.

The best chance of that eventuality fell to Clare when a black crd for Gavin McGowan coincided with a brace of home points for Keelan Sexton and Emmet McMahon at 0-8 to 0-6 by the turn of the final quarter.

However, Meath would get a major boost off the bench as first Joey Wallace and then Bryan McMahon helped their side to keep pace at 0-9 to 0-9 by the 65th minute.

As the tie drifted into the final minute of additional time, Clare and Meath seemed content to take a share of the spoils that would have consolidated both sides’ Division 2 status for another year.

However no-one informed replacement Conlon, who after good work from Ronan Jones and Eoin Harkin, punished their crestfallen hosts to snatch all the points.

Meath: Harry Hogan; Robin Clarke, Conor McGill, Jordan Muldoon; Donal Keogan, Eoin Harkin, Gavin McGowan; Bryan Menton (0-01), Ronan Jones; Jason Scully, Thomas O'Reilly, Mathew Costello; Jordan Morris (0-02, 0-02f), Shane Walsh (0-03, 0-02f), Cillian O’Sullivan (0-01)

Subs: Joey Wallace (0-01) for Walsh (49), Bryan McMahon (0-01) for O’Reilly (59), Jack O’Connor for Scully (63), James Conlon (0-01) for Morris (68)

Clare: Stephen Ryan; Manus Doherty, Cillian Brennan, Cillian Rouine; Jamie Malone, Cian O’Dea, Eoghan Collins; Ciaran Russell, Darren O’Neill; Emmet McMahon (0-01), Eoin Cleary (0-03), Pearse Lillis; Aaron Griffin, Keelan Sexton (0-04, 0-03f), David Tubridy

Subs: Daniel Walsh for Collins (HT), Conor Jordan (0-01) for Doherty (39), Gavin Cooney for Brennan (49), Joe McGann for Griffin (63)

Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)