Orchard boys are brought down to earth by Meath magic
Meath 2-13 Armagh 0-13
Meath all but ended Armagh's hopes of back-to-back promotions with a hard win in Navan.
The Orchard lads made a stunning comeback in the second half to cut Meath's 10-point lead down to a point but they fell short in the third quarter of the match.
The strong wind blew hard at Meath's back in the first half and they were full value for their 10-point lead. They bullied, overturned and dominated Armagh for 35 minutes and the Orchard seemed out of sorts.
It was men against boys and the Royals had Armagh chasing shadows. Meath captain Bryan Menton ruled the roost in the middle while, up top, Ben Brennan and Michael Newman led the busy Meath attack.
Meath's Shane McEntee opened the scoring in the first minute and Michael Newman, Darragh Campion and James McEntee put the Royals four ahead with five minutes played.
Armagh were forced to wait 14 minutes before Stephen Sheridan finished off a move to register their first score. Stefan Campbell and Mark Shields kicked wide and Michael Newman's converted penalty put distance between the teams.
Newman (free) and Cillian O'Sullivan brought Meath's tally to 1-06 before Rory Grugan replied to double Armagh's score.
Meath pressed high and forced Armagh into making errors and there was no surprise that extended their lead with Campion grabbing his second point, the lively Niall Kane striking over and Ben Brennan converting a 14-metre free.
Rian O'Neill's close-range free gave Armagh their third point of the half but they left a mountain to climb with the score Meath 1-09, Armagh 0-03, at the break
But the men in orange donned their shooting boots and got to work with Stefan Campbell, Rory Grugan, Ryan McShane and Rian O'Neill all hitting the target, they closed the gap to 0-12 to 1-10 with 55 minutes played.
But it was the Royals who managed the game better in the final third with Newman kicking over frees and then substitute Ethan Devin punched in an injury-time goal to dash any hopes Armagh had of recording their first Division Two win of the season.
Meath scorers: M Newman 1-05, 0-5 frees, E Devine 1-0, D Campion 0-2, T O'Reilly, J McEntee, N Kane, S McEntee, C O'Sullivan, B Brennan frees, each 0-1.
Armagh scorers: R O'Neill 0-5, 0-4 frees, R Grugan (0-4, 02 frees), S Campbell 0-3, R McShane (0-1), S Sheridan 0-1.