An estimated 3,000 spectators turned up at Pairc Tailteann tonight and the majority of them went home disappointed as Meath lost by three points (2-10 to 0-19) against Armagh.
Michael Newman's 16th minute goal helped Meath into a 1-4 to 0-2 lead, but Armagh rallied with points from Stephen Harold, Caolan Rafferty and Stefan Campbell only for the hosts to find the net again through Bryan McMahon.
Those two goals helped wind-assisted Meath to a slender 2-5 to 0-10 lead and they were on the backfoot for most of the closing stages of the second-half as Armagh battled back into contention despite losing midfielder Aaron Findon to a 30th minute black card.
There was also a touch of good fortune about Meath's goals with the first down to a fumble by the goalkeeper and the second scored when McMahon finisahed a rebound to the net.
The Meath points came from Graham Reilly (two), McMahon, Newman and Shane O'Rourke. Armagh completed rtheir first-half tally through Jamie Clarke (four), Campbell, Oisin McKeever and Harold
Meath resumed smartly against the elements with a couple of early goal chances that produced points from McMahon and Eamon Wallace as well as a good Newman effort. The Kilmainham man was also denied a goal by the woodwork.
Armagh countered again with three Clarke frees that reduced Meath advantage to two points (0-13 to 2-9) by the end of the third-quarter.
The Royals only managed one more score, a pointed David Bray free, but Armagh battled with great determination and deservedly took the points home as Clarke sent over four more points with Rafferty and Eoghan McVerry completing the tally.
Meath – P O'Rourke; D Keogan, K Reilly, M Burke; P Harnan, B Menton, E Harrington; A Tormey, S O'Rourke (0-1); B McMahon (1-2), D Bray (0-1 free), G Reilly (0-2); E Wallace (0-2), S Bray, M Newman (1-2 one free). Subs – D Carroll for G Reilly and D McDonagh for S Bray both 52m, S Kenny for Tormey 57m, D Larkin for S O'Roukre 63m.
Black card - D Carroll (replaced by D Tobin 62 mins)
Armagh – P McEvoy; P Hughes, A Mallon, M Murray; M Shields, C Vernon, F O'Neill; A Fiddon, S Harold (0-2); T Kernan, K Dyas, C Rafferty (0-2); J Clarke (0-11 eight frees), S Campbell (0-2), O McKeever (0-1). Sub – B Mallon for Kernan 39 mins, E McVerry (0-1) for McKeever 53m, J Hanratty for Vernon 69m.
Black Card – A Findon (replaced by S Forker 30 mins).
Referee – Maurice Deegan (Laois).