Tyrone are back in the top flight of the National league after making it five wins out of five at Pairc Tailteann in Navan on Sunday afternoon.
The six point success, coupled with Galway’s draw at Armagh, means that the Red Hands can’t be caught and they will play in the division two final on April 24th at Croke Park.
After recovering from the setback of conceding an early goal, the visitors always looked the likely winners although Meath made them work hard for their victory as they threatened a second half comeback.
Tyrone used their full complement of substitutes and they had to finish the game with thirteen men, after Ronan O’Neill picked up an injury and Kieran McGeary was black carded in closing stages.
The only downside for Mickey Harte was that he lost O’Neill, Ronan McNamee and Conor Meyler to injury over the course of the afternoon.
Michael Newman, who finished with an impressive 1-8 to his name, crashed in a brilliantly taken goal in the 4th minute that gave Mickey O’Neill no chance, the clone custodian one of four changes made from the starting fifteen that had been announced.
The visitors soon replied and after a well taken O’Neill point the same player scored a goal after collecting a pinpoint pass from Niall Sludden.
Newman and Padraic Harnan helped get the Royals back on level terms but it was Tyrone who continued to look the better side.
The Donnelly brothers Richard and Mattie scored quality points each as did Sludden while Johnny Monroe, another late call up, scored two points in as many minutes.
At that stage Tyrone led 1-10 to 1-4 and while Meath closed the half out with scores from James McEntee and Cillian O’Sullivan it was the visitors who greeted the short whistle on top.
Meath had the opening score of the second half via a Newman free but O’Neill responded with an outstanding point from out on the left wing with his weaker left foot.
Meath, however, were intent on stopping Tyrone running at them the way they had done in the first half and they visibility lifted their game.
They drove at Tyrone winning a number of frees which the accurate Newman converted and, at one stage, they closed the gap to two points.
Peter Harte stopped the rot with a crucial twenty metre free from the right wing as Tyrone found another gear.
They used the ball intelligently to frustrate their opponents. O’Neill had to go off injured but from the resulting free Sean Cavanagh sent the ball over the bar.
Mattie Donnelly then weighed in with a fine score after a well worked move before substitute Hugh Pat McGeary, who was introduced as early as the fourth minute for the injured, McNamee, capped a forty metre run with an outstanding point.
Newman scored his only point from play but it was Tyrone’s day with Cavanagh completing the scoring with a late free.
It means that Tyrone have achieved their objective of gaining promotion and the fact that they have done it with two games to spare will no doubt be pleasing to manager Harte.
Their opponents in the final have yet to be decided with the Cavan v Galway game likely to prove pivotal.
Meath: Conor McHugh, Donal Keoghan, Conor McGill, Mickey Burke, Donnacha Tobin, Brian Power, Alan Douglas, Harry Rooney, Padraic Harnan, James McEntee, Cillian O’Sullivan, Graham Reilly, Eamon Wallace, Michael Newman, Donal Lenihan. Subs – Bobby O’Brien for O’Sullivan, Cathal Finn for Douglas, Ruairi O’Coileain for Lenihan, Cian O’Brien for Tobin, Conor Downey for McEntee, Andrew Tormey for Reilly (black card)
Scorers: Michael Newman 1-8, Padraic Harnan 0-1, James McEntee 0-1, Cillian O’Sullivan 0-1
Tyrone: Mickey O’Neill, Aidan McCrory, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron, Johnny Monroe, Niall Sludden, Tiernan McCann, Colm Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly, Conall McCann, Peter Harte, Richard Donnelly, Connor McAliskey, Sean Cavanagh, Ronan O’Neill. Subs – Hugh Pat McGeary for McNamee, Padraig McNulty for McAliskey, Mark Bradley for C McCann, Conor Meyler for Sludden, Kieran McGeary for R Donnelly, Rory Brennan for O’Neill
Scorers: Ronan O’Neill 1-4, Sean Cavanagh 0-3, Peter Harte 0-3, Johnny Monroe 0-2, Mattie Donnelly 0-2, Richard Donnelly 0-1, Niall Sludden 0-1, Hugh Pat McGeary 0-1
Referee: Fergal Kelly, Longford