The opportunity to advance to the next round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers was stolen from Meath as Tyrone held on to score a narrow 2-14 to 0-19 victory at Pairc Tailteann this evening.
Cathal McShane and Harry Loughran were the heroes for Tyrone as McShane's point in the fifth minute of injury-time forced extra-time for the Ulster side and six minutes into the additional period Loughran palmed what proved to be the winning goal.
However those bare facts don't tell the full story as Meath were denied a stonewall penalty when Cillian O'Sullivan was fouled in the 61st minute and then referee Paddy Neilan allowed play extend beyond the five minutes of announced additional time during which McShane rescued Tyrone.
Meath looked to have thrown the game away in extra-time when Tyrone hit 1-3 in quick succession to lead 2-14 to 0-16, but they failed to score in the second-half of extra-time as Meath rallied, but were then denied a free late on which would have levelled the game again.
That decision was quickly followed by the final whistle and the referee was booed wildly by the supporters as he left the field and left Meath's ambitions in tatters.
The sweltering heat did little to impact the early pace as Tyrone ran at Meath and drew an early free when debutant Shane Gallagher foolishly fouled Mattie Donnelly and Connor McAliskey opened his account with a tap over free.
Meath's response was rapid and effective as Cillian O'Sullivan's mis-hit pass found Ben Brennan and he pointed, but Tyrone continued to be a threat with McAliskey converting another free after Padraig McNulty was fouled.
From the resultant awful kickout McAliskey almost lobbed Andy Colgan, but his effort dropped over the bar to make it 0-3 to 0-1.
An outstanding point from James McEntee cut the deficit to the minimum, but then disaster struck for Meath in the eighth minute as Conor Meyler and Michael McKernan cut down the right hand side and found McAliskey who swept the ball to the net despite the presence of a couple of Meath defenders on the line.
Meath's response to that setback was impressive. Lenihan took advantage of Tyrone dissent to convert a 45-metre free and a minute later he replicated that score from 15 metres closer in.
Donal Keogan galloped forward to wipe out the damage caused by the goal and when O'Sullivan gathered McEntee's superb pass he restored parity, 0-6 to 1-3, with a fine score in the 17th minute.
After going all out in the opening quarter the pace dipped slightly with McAliskey taking advantage of poor defending to restore Tyrone's lead and in the 20th minute McKernan made it 1-5 to 0-6.
Joey Wallace squandered a goal chance when he failed to gather Ben Brennan's long ball and the two-point deficit remained as McAliskey and Lenihan traded frees.
There was no more scores in the closing 13 minutes of the half, but Tyrone went close to bagging two goals with Colgan brilliantly denying McNulty before McAliskey struck the woodwork from a narrow angle as the Ulster side took a 1-6 to 0-7 to the break.
Meath showed they would raise the intensity when Brennan picked up a yellow card within a minute of the restart and two minutes later he pointed to make it a one-point game.
Brenan then restored parity in the 41st minute, but Meath couldn't get theirr noses in front as McAliskey replied ith another free.
An outstanding score from Joey Wallace levelled it again and that parity remaind as Frank Burns and Mickey Burke traded scores to end the third quarter 0-11 to 1-8.
Another Brennan free was countered by a score from Burns and the St Colmcille's man remained the centre of attention when he gave Meath the lead for the second time with nine minutes remaining.
After watching another free come back off the upright Brennan was then impeded off the ball by Tiernan mcCann and the Tyrone defender was sent-off, but they managed to hit the next score with McAliskey on target from a 'soft' free.
McAliskey missed the chance to give Tyrone the lead in injury-time, but Brennan made no mistake in the 74th minute when he converted after Keogan had been fouled.
Brennan picked up a second yellow card as the five minutes of injury time expired, but the referee played almost a minute over the announced additional time and Cathal McShane struck an equaliser to make it 1-11 to 0-14 and force extra-time.
Tyrone took a giant leap towards victory in the first period of extra-time when McAliskey tapped over a 13-metre free that could have been a penalty. McEntee responded brilliantly, but then Ronan O'Neill delivered a moment of genius as he took two Meath defenders out of the game with a sidestep and centred to Harry Loughran who palmed to the net to make it 2-12 to 0-15.
Colgan's poor kick out gifted McShane another point and after Niall Sludden and O'Sullivan traded scores Tyrone took a 2-14 to 0-16 lead to the extra-time interval.
However Tyrone didn't score in the second-half of extra-time as Meath closed to within a point with scores from Thomas O'Reilly, Shane Glynn and Donal Lenihan.
Meath looked to have won a free which would have levelled it up gain when James McEntee appeared to have been fouled late on, but Neilan waved away the hosts pleas and it was Tyrone who advanced as Neilan was booed to the dressing room.
Tyrone - Michael O'Neill; Padraig Hampsey, Ronan McNamee, Hugh Pat McGeary; Tiernan McCann, Frank Burns (0-2), Michael McKernan (0-1); Colm Cavanagh, Padraig McNulty; Mattie Donnelly, Niall Sludden (0-1), Conor Meyler; Cathal McShane (0-2), Richard Donnelly, Connor McAliskey (1-8 six frees). Subs – Kieran McGeary for Meyler, Rory Brennan for HJ McGeary both 48 mins, Harry Loughran (1-0) for R Donnelly 52m, Declan McClure for McNulty 62m, Ronan McNabb for McNamee 67m. Extra-time – Ronan O'Neill (replaced T McCann), Meyler for McKernan, Conall McCann for McShane, Aidan McCrory for Hampsey.
Meath - Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Seán Curran; James McEntee (0-2), Donal Keogan (0-1), Shane Gallagher; Bryan Menton, Adam Flanagan; Cillian O’Sullivan (0-2), Ben Brennan (0-6 three frees), Mickey Burke (0-1); Joey Wallace (0-1), Graham Reilly, Donal Lenihan (0-4 frees). Subs - Thomas O'Reilly (0-1) for Lenihan 54 mins, Eamon Wallace for Burke 55m, Bryan McMahon for J Wallace 57m. Extra-time - Cian O'Brien (replaced Brennan), Shane Glynn (0-1) for Gallagher, Dan O'Neill for McGill, Lenihan for Lavin.Black card – Adam Flanagan (not replaced).
Referee – Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).