Paddy McBrearty hits the winner
Patrick McBrearty kicked seven points, none better than his winner in the 72nd minute, but there were plenty of heroes on display for Donegal this time around.
What a contrast from the previous week against Longford. This was Donegal as we knew them over the last five or six years.
The crowd were entertained to the strains of Abba before the game and there was plenty of entertainment in the opening half as the sides shared 14 points, finishing 0-7 each at the break.
Meath had the aid of the stiff breeze and opened well with a Donal Lenihan free. Jason McGee levelled for Donegal, but then Meath went two up thanks to Graham Reilly (off upright) and Ruairi O Coileain.
But Donegal were back on terms by the 11th minute, Eoin McHugh combining with Patrick McBrearty before the latter was fouled. McBrearty tapped over the free. And then after a great break by Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Michael Murphy popped up to take the pass and drive over.
The post denied both Hugh McFadden (fist) and Michael Murphy ('45') before Donal Lenihan put Meath back in front from a free.
In front for first time
Donegal were in front for the first time on 25 minutes thanks to a McBrearty free and a great effort from Michael Murphy.
Cillian O'Sullivan again levelled for Meath but Donegal were beginning to get into their stride and Hugh McFadden won possession with a great turnover for Ryan McHugh to set up Patrick McBrearty to point and Eoin McHugh broke to set up Jason McGee for a two point lead.
A minute from the break Donal Keogan came forward to pull a point back before Donegal created a great goal chance, Michael Murphy driving through the Meath defence. He found Ryan McHugh who crossed for Hugh McFadden to palm to the net, but the Killybegs man was adjudged to have been in the square before the ball was played.
To add to the disappointment, Meath came forward two minutes into added time and Donal Lenihan levelled matters after a free from 45m was moved on a good 15m.
The first two points of the second half were shared, Lenihan and Michael Murphy pointing frees.
Lenihan had a handy 13m free to push Meath ahead again and Shane McEntee, after touching the ball on ground, put Meath two ahead.
Michael Murphy replied but again Lenihan fired Meath two clear on 50 minutes. Donegal had a goal chance immediately afterwards when Ryan McHugh put Jamie Brennan in but his effort was well blocked by Conor McGill for a '45'.
Lenihan had another free but then Donegal hit back with Ryan McHugh finding Frank McGlynn in space and he pointed and from a poor kick-out Patrick McBrearty levelled matters on 53 minutes.
Donegal hit the front again on 58 minutes when Paddy McGrath, who worked tirelessly throughout, found Patrick McBrearty to point but almost immediately Meath were back level through James McEntee.
Then came a most exciting period with two goals inside a minute. Firstly Ryan McHugh won a kick out and Martin McElhinney found Eoghan Ban Gallagher, who crossed for Ryan McHugh to palm to the net.
But from the kick-out Meath broke forward. Mark Anthony McGinley made a great block but the ball fell for Cillian O'Sullivan to fire home and the sides were level again.
Bryan Menton eased Meath back in front on 64 minutes. Cillian O'Sullivan was then shown black for a reckless challenge on Mark McHugh and from the free Patrick McBrearty levelled once more on 66 minutes.
Michael Murphy found Jamie Brennan to burst through on 67 minutes and when he was fouled Murphy pushed Donegal ahead once more.
From a soft free Lenihan levelled again on 70 minutes, but Ryan McHugh did well to create an opening for Patrick McBrearty to fire over from 55m, a wonder point, which was a worthy winner.
Scorers - Meath: Donal Lenihan 0-7,7f; Cillian O'Sullivan 1-1; Graham Reilly, Ruairi O Coileain, Donal Keogan, Shane McEntee, James McEntee, Bryan Menton 0-1 each.
Donegal: Patrick McBrearty 0-7,3f; Michael Murphy 0-5,3f, Ryan McHugh 1-0; Jason McGee 0-2, Frank McGlynn 0-1.
MEATH: Paddy O'Rourke; Donal Keogan, Conor McGill, Mickey Burke; Pauric Harnan, Brian Power, Shane McEntee; Bryan Menton, Brian Conlon; James McEntee, Cillian O'Sullivan, Graham Reilly; Ruairí Ó Coileáin, Seán Tobin, Donal Lenihan.
Subs., Michael Newman for S Tobin ht; Donnacha Tobin for S McEntee 61; Eamon Wallace for C O'Sullivan bcard 67
DONEGAL: Mark Anthony McGinley; Kieran Gillespie, Neil McGee, Caolan Ward; Paddy McGrath, Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Ryan McHugh; Jason McGee, Michael Murphy; Ciaran Thompson, Frank McGlynn, Eoin McHugh; Patrick McBrearty, Hugh McFadden, Martin O'Reilly.
Subs., Martin McElhinney for Thompson 43; Jamie Brennan for McFadden 48; Karl Lacey for O'Reilly 58; Mark McHugh for McGlynn 60
REFEREE: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary)