All Ireland SFC Qualifier: Tyrone edge out Meath
All Ireland SFC Round One Qualifier
TYRONE 2-14 MEATH 0-19
By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann, Navan
Tyrone lived dangerously in Navan before coming good in extra-time to keep their outside All-Ireland title hopes alive.
Mickey Harte's men were a point down six minutes into injury-time of normal time when Cathal McShane struck to break the home side's hearts and send it to extra-time.
Substitute Harry Loughran's 76th minute goal ultimately separated the teams as the Red Hands held on to take their place in Monday's draw for Round 2 of the All-Ireland qualifiers.
With Peter Harte suspended, Connor McAliskey stepped up to the plate for Tyrone and fired a match winning 1-8. But it was tough for Andy McEntee's Meath who believed they'd secured a hugely significant win when Ben Brennan put them ahead with time almost up.
And they fought all the way to the final whistle with the game's last four points before coming up just one short. Both counties came into the contest desperately seeking a win to ignite their summer after disappointing provincial exits.
Meath's loss in Longford was the bigger surprise though Tyrone were still left reeling by their defeat to Monaghan which ended their provincial three-in-a-row bid.
The Red Hands announced a late change before throw-in with Michael O'Neill replacing Niall Morgan in goals.
It didn't affect them as they dominated the first-half and cut Meath's defence asunder time after time to carve out gilt edged chances.
They scored just one goal in that half, a scrappy McAliskey effort in the eighth minute, but it could easily have been half a dozen.
McAliskey dragged another chance wide and hit the crossbar late in the half while Padraig McNulty drew a brilliant save from Meath 'keeper Andy Colgan.
McNulty smacked another opportunity off the bar and though a score wouldn't have counted due to a free in the buildup, it underlined Tyrone's supremacy.
The 2008 All-Ireland winners also blasted eight wides in the opening half and dropped a number of shots into Colgan's arms. McAliskey was their principal attacking outlet and fired 1-5 of their 1-6 tally in the opening half.
Meath, in contrast, had five different scores though only racked up 0-7 in the half as they struggled to remain in the game. The hosts were much improved after the break and St Colmcille's attacker Ben Brennan oozed quality.
He slotted back to back points to tie the game up at 0-9 to 1-6. It set the tone for a thrilling second-half and the sides were level six times in an incident packed 40 minutes or so.
It was virtually score for score as Meath sharpened up in attack and Tyrone continued to be wasteful, booting six more wides.
Meath screamed for a penalty when O'Sullivan was hauled down in the 64th minute but ref Paddy Neilan only gave a free that Brennan converted.
Tiernan McCann was sent off two minutes later for Tyrone following an off the ball incident that left Brennan grounded.
And Brennan himself was dismissed for a second yellow card deep into injury-time. He thought he'd just kicked the winner moments earlier but McShane popped up for Tyrone to send it to extra-time at 0-14 to 1-11.
Tyrone dominated the first-half of that extra-time and Loughran's goal after being well fed by Ronan O'Neill helped them to lead 2-14 to 0-15 at the death.
They needed that five-point cushion as Meath lived up to their tradition by fighting to the finish with points from O'Sullivan, Thomas O'Reilly, Shane Glynn and Donal Lenihan.
Scorers for Tyrone: Connor McAliskey 1-8 (6fs), Harry Loughran 1-0, Frank Burns 0-2, Cathal McShane 0-2, Michael McKernan 0-1, Niall Sludden 0-1.
Scorers for Meath: Ben Brennan 0-6 (3fs), Donal Lenihan 0-4 (4fs), Cillian O'Sullivan 0-2, James McEntee 0-2, Donal Keogan 0-1, Joey Wallace 0-1, Mickey Burke 0-1, Thomas O'Reilly 0-1, Shane Glynn 0-1.
TYRONE: Michael O'Neill; Hugh Pat McGeary, Ronan McNamee, Padraig Hampsey; Tiernan McCann, Michael McKernan, Frank Burns; Colm Cavanagh, Padraig McNulty; Mattie Donnelly, Niall Sludden, Conor Meyler; Cathal McShane, Richard Donnelly, Connor McAliskey.
Subs: Kieran McGeary for Meyler (49), Rory Brennan for HP McGeary (49), Harry Loughran for R Donnelly (53), Declan McClure for McNulty (62), Ronan McNabb for McNamee (68). Ronan O'Neill replaces red carded McCann for e/t, Meyler for McKernan (79), Conall McCann for McShane (86).
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Shane Gallagher, Conor McGill, Seamus Lavin; James McEntee, Sean Curran, Donal Keogan; Bryan Menton, Adam Flanagan; Mickey Burke, Ben Brennan, Cillian O'Sullivan; Graham Reilly, Donal Lenihan, Joey Wallace.
Subs: Thomas O'Reilly for Lenihan (55), Eamon Wallace for Burke (56), Bryan McMahon for J Wallace (58). Cian O'Brien replaces red carded Brennan for e/t, Shane Glynn for Gallagher (75), Daniel O'Neill for McGill (81), Lenihan for Lavin (84).
REFEREE: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).