Peter Slevin's four goals were central to Meath's decisive Leinster MHC win over Kildare at Trim on Saturday afternoon.
Meath ........ 5-11
Kildare ....... 1-11
The Na Fianna clubman completed his tally in the 51st minute at the town end to quell a Kildare rally that saw the visitors get to within three points of Meath on four occasions in the second-half.
Slevin's fourth goal left the scoreboard at the opposite end of the pitch reading 4-9 to 1-11. With time almost up and weather conditions deteriorating, full-back Peter Farrell saw a free from his own 45 wind up in the Kildare net.
Corner-forward Jack Cox chipped in with 0-9 (seven frees) for a Meath team that was never headed. Kildare midfielder Jack Sheridan led his side's rally, pitching in with seven points from placed balls.
One such score got Kildare - playing against the wind - to within two points of Meath, 3-5 to 1-9, eight minutes after the restart.
That was as good as it got for the visitors who managed to close the gap to three points on three further occasions.
Meath led by just three points heading into the final quarter despite playing with the wind. The contest was flatlined when Slevin bagged his fourth goal, in the 51st minute.
With time almost up and conditions briefly getting worse, Farrell netted from distance.
Kildare were backed by a strong breeze blowing into the town goal in the opening half. However, the Lilywhites were wasteful during the opening period, notching up seven wides to Meath's one.
The first of Peter Slevin's first-half hat-trick arrived four minutes in to open the scoring. Kildare outscored Meath by 0-5 to 0-3 over the next 18 minutes and were good value for it.
Slevin struck for his second goal 20 minutes in and completed his hat trick moments later to leave it 3-4 to 0-5.
Around this time Kildare full-back Dylan Brereton and full-forward Conor Dowling swapped places. The visitors were further boosted in the 28th minute when Alex Maher's shot was diverted into his own net by Meath corner-back Noel O'Sullivan.
Jack Sheridan's third pointed placed ball of the half left just a goal in it at the break, 3-4 to 1-7.
Scorers :Meath - Peter Slevin 4-1; Jack Cox 0-9 (7fs); Peter Farrell 1-0 (f); Ethan Devine 0-1.
Kildare - Jack Sheridan 0-7 (6fs, 1 65); Noel O'Sullivan 1-0 og; Conor Foley 0-2 (1f); Alex Maher, Barry McCormack 0-1 each.
Meath - Conor Gilmartin (Dunboyne); Noel O'Sullivan (Na Fianna), Peter Farrell (Trim), Darren Hennessy (Rathmolyon); Brian Reilly (Kiltale), Hugh Smith (Blackhall Gaels), Ben McGowan (Gaeil Colmcille); Ethan Devine (Na Fianna), Cormac Mattimoe (Gaeil Colmcille); Conor Kearney (Kildalkey), Jack Delaney (Dunboyne), Ronan Byrne (Na Fianna); Peter Slevin (Na Fianna), Cian Slattery (Na Fianna), Jack Cox (Dunboyne). Subs - Adam Murphy (Kiltale) for Devine (51), Mickey Cullen (Trim) for Delaney (54), Dermot McKenna (O'Mahonys) for Slevin (58), James McNally (Kildalkey) for McGowan (58).
Kildare - Jeff Keane (Naas); Conor Byrne (Kilcock), Dylan Brereton (Coill Dubh), Evan Nolan (Naas); Emmet Meehan (Leixlip), Brian Giffney (Clane), Sean Lawlor (Celbridge); Evan Gilman (Clane), Jack Sheridan (Naas); Alex Maher (Naas), Conor Foley (Naas), Caolan Smith (Clane); Robert Hyland (Clane), Conor Dowling (Naas), Barry McCormack (Eire Og/Corrachoil). Subs -
Referee - Alfie Devine (Westmeath)