Meath have made ladies football history again by holding firm in a tight, tense Lidl National League Division 1 final to claim a maiden title, when defeating Donegal at Croke Park.

The battling win, courtesy of goals from Kelsey Nesbitt and Niamh O'Sullivan, comes just seven months after the Royal County came from nowhere to win their first All-Ireland senior title.

This was another epic display from Eamonn Murray's side who let slip what was a seven-point lead after a terrific start to trail by one early in the second-half.

O'Sullivan's 40th minute goal proved decisive and put Meath into a lead they wouldn't relinquish with 2021 Footballer of the Year Vikki Wall providing an insurance point late on.

Emma Troy had a superb game too for Meath who just last year won the Division 2 title to gain promotion to the top tier.

They'll return to action in the Leinster championship in a three-team group that contains Dublin and Westmeath while Donegal will take plenty too from the near miss ahead of their Championship campaign.

Geraldine McLaughlin of Donegal in action against Katie Newe

For a while it looked like Meath might actually wrap up a big win by half-time with the favourites 1-06 to 0-02 clear.

Just four minutes remained in the first-half at that stage and Meath had been entirely on top with their counter attacking strategy coming together nicely.

They led 0-05 to 0-02 at the first water break and then struck a terrific goal through Nesbitt.

It was a wonderful, direct move that began with Emma Duggan securing possession from Monica McGuirk's kick-out before feeding Wall who raced clear and played in Nesbitt.

Orlagh Lally added a point and Meath weren't flattered by the seven-point advantage with Donegal in real danger of being routed.

But an Yvonne Bonner score for Donegal ignited Maxi Curran's side and from the kick-out they worked a move that ended with Bonner being tripped and felled by Mary Kate Lynch for a penalty.

Niamh McLauglin buried the spot kick and to compound Meath's difficulties, Lynch was shown yellow and sent to the sin-bin for the foul.

Karen Guthrie and Ger McLaughlin added scores as Donegal capitalised on their momentum and when the half-time hooter sounded they were just one behind, 1-06 to 1-05.

Guthrie and McLaughlin were on the mark again early in the second-half with points to put Donegal ahead for the first time in the game.

In all, Donegal hit an unanswered 1-05 with 1-04 of that coming in the period when Meath full-back Lynch was in the sin-bin.

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Meath's response to adversity was typically impressive. Firstly, Lally tied it up at 1-07 apiece with a tidy levelling point. Then O'Sullivan struck a second goal for the Leinster outfit which left them in the clear again at 2-07 to 1-07.

O'Sullivan's finish for the major was superb as she pivoted in the danger area and struck to the corner of the net though Duggan's precise pass made it all possible.

Bonner and Ger McLauglin struck points in response for Donegal but they just couldn't claw back the deficit as Meath held on for another landmark triumph.

Meath: Monica McGuirk; Katie Newe, Mary Kate Lynch, Shauna Ennis; Aoibhin Cleary, Emma Troy, Aoibheann Leahy; Maire O'Shaughnessy, Vikki Wall (0-01); Kelsey Nesbitt (1-01), Orlagh Lally (0-02), Megan Thynne; Niamh O'Sullivan (1-01), Emma Duggan (0-02, 0-01f), Stacey Grimes (0-01).

Subs: Bridgetta Lynch for Nesbitt 38, Niamh Gallogly for Leahy 52, Emma White for Thynne 52, Orla Byrne for Lally 56, Orlaith Duff for O'Sullivan

Donegal: Roisin McCafferty; Niamh Carr, Evelyn McGinley, Niamh Boyle; Tara Hegarty, Nicole McLaughlin, Amy Boyle Carr; Katie Herron, Roisin Rodgers; Blathnaid McLaughlin, Niamh McLaughlin (1-00, 1-00pen), Shelly Twohig; Yvonne Bonner (0-02), Karen Guthrie (0-03, 0-02f), Geraldine McLaughlin (0-04, 0-01f).

Subs: Niamh Hegarty for Tara Hegarty 40, Tanya Kennedy for Boyle 49, Emma McCrory for Twohig 56,

Referee: Garryowen McMahon (Mayo).