Meath's Luke Rickard and Kerry's Ricky Heffernan tussle for possession during Saturday's All-Ireland MHC B quarter-final at Páirc Táilteann.
Kerry 3-10, Meath 0-17
It's never over until it's over. If they didn't know it already that lesson was forcefully brought home to Meath's young hurlers when they lost out to Kerry in the All-Ireland MHC B quarter-final at Páirc Táilteann on Saturday.
It looked like they were going to win, but they were hit with an upper-cut that John Joe Nevin would have been proud of when Kerry snatched an injury-time goal to grab a dramatic victory.
That knock-out blow came in the second minute of added time when, with Meath leading by a point Kerry's tall corner-forward Cian Hussey used his height to get up to a Tommy Casey centre and knock the ball to the net. Kerry also had a player, Michael O'Leary, sent-off with five minutes remaining when he picked up a second yellow card.
The Kingdom deserved their victory especially for the manner in which they came back in the second-half after going in at the interval adrift by 1-3 to 0-12.
With a lead like that Meath should have gone on to win this game, but perhaps believing that they had done most of the hard work they seemed to take their foot off the gas and paid the price.
Kerry hassled and harried Meath in that second-half never allowing the home side to build on their significant interval advantage.
Meath's best spell came in second-quarter when they found their touch to produce plenty of fast-flowing hurling and steadily pile on the points that gave them their half-time cushion.
Then bit by bit Kerry fought back helped by a 57th minute goal from Philip Lucid that clearly undermined the confidence of the home side who found it difficult to up the gears.
Throughout the warm, humid afternoon Meath also found it hard to take a firm control of affairs in midfield for long enough to provide themselves with a solid platform for victory.
They played in fits and starts and it took some inspirational, well-taken points from Jack Regan, Sean Doyle and Gavin McGowan to eventually get them going after a slow beginning.
Regan looked dangerous every time he won possession and he had a fruitful afternoon with a haul of seven points, five frees.
Doyle, McGowan and Jack Fagan (pictured) all went on to dig out some excellent scores from play with their predatory skills most evident in that spell leading up to half-time.
Full-forward James Andrews also fired over a point yet much of his time was spent around midfield as he went foraging for possession to try and limit Kerry's considerable influence in that sector.
By far the busier of the two goalkeepers was Meath's Charlie Bird. He didn't have to do anything spectacular with most of his work involving cleaning up around the square.
Yet the fact that he was so busy gave a good indication as to which way most of the action was flowing.
The nearest Meath came to finding the net came when a Vinny Moore centre from distance in the opening half bounced up and hit the bar and away.
While Shane Whitty put in some good work at full-back the Meath defence had a vulnerable look about it even before the 12th minute when Michael O'Leary waltzed through to score Kerry's opening goal.
The concession of the other two Kerry goals also exposed backline frailties and proved costly particularly the score from Hussey in the dying minutes. From looking home and hosed Meath suddenly lost their way and conceded the late dramatic and decisive goal.
Meath manager Brendan Fitzsimons praised the players and the efforts of his selectors Philip O'Brien and Ken McKenna. He also felt the team that lined out on Saturday had a future.
"From that team out there today we have nine who will still be minor for next year," he said pointing to the on-going work to develop various under-age panels. "Thank God we have the u-16s, u-17s coming up all the time and they make up the backbone of your team at the end of the day. I'm just so proud of the lads, they gave 100 per cent in training, challenge games and you could see out there they gave it everything until the last minute," he added.
Kerry - J Wallace; T McElliott, C Savage, K Hanifan; D Goulding, D Fitzell, Tommy Casey; D Collins, B O'Leary (0-1); M O'Leary (1-2), Thomas Casey, K Carmody; P McGrath, R Heffernan (0-6 frees), C Hussey (1-0). Subs - F Horgan for Goulding 25mins, P Lucid (1-1) for Thomas Casey half-time.
Meath - Charlie Bird (Boardsmill); Liam Ferguson (Gaeil Colmcillle), Shane Whitty (Blackhall Gaels), Sam Benville (Donaghmore/Ashbourne); Conor O'Shea (Dunderry), Daragh Kelly (Ratoath), Conor Darby (Boardsmill); Stefan Kelly (Killyon), Luke Rickard (Kildalkey); Sean Doyle (Kilmessan 0-3), Vinny Moore (Navan O'Mahonys), Gavin McGowan (Ratoath 0-4); Jack Regan (Kiltale 0-7 four frees, one '65'), James Andrews (Trim 0-1), Jack Fagan (Rathmolyon 0-2). Sub - Dylan Keenan (Dunderry) for Doyle 56 mins.
Referee - Justin Heffernan (Wexford).