A first win of the Allianz League Division 2 campaign brought relief for relegation-threatened Meath who shrugged off Cork with relative ease in Navan.
With just two draws from four previous outings, the Royals badly needed a home win and duly delivered with their best performance of the campaign so far.
Leading by five points at half-time, Meath then reeled off 1-04 without reply in the third quarter – joint top scorer Jordan Morris with the 53rd-minute goal from a penalty – to open up a 10-point lead.
It was a vital cushion that allowed Andy McEntee’s men to absorb a mini-Cork revival that included a goal from substitute Joe Grimes.
Morris finished with 1-02 while the return of former captain Bryan Menton for his first action of the year after injury was significant, the Donaghmore-Ashbourne man booting two points and locking down the midfield alongside Ronan Jones.
Goalkeeper Harry Hogan scored 0-05 from frees while Thomas O’Reilly impressed throughout, scoring a point and winning a series of frees that were converted.
The result gives Meath a strong chance of staying in Division 2 with ties against Clare (away) and Derry (home) to come though rock bottom Cork, still with just a point after five outings, are now in real bother.
Their remaining games are against Down (home) and Offaly (away).
Meath was without captain Shane McEntee due to a tour of duty with the Irish Defence Forces so Cillian O’Sullivan wore the armband and led the line well.
The Moynalvey man lined out in a potent full-forward line alongside Shane Walsh and Morris and the trio caused Cork plenty of trouble.
Between them, they accounted for five of Meath’s 11 first-half points with the hosts striding 0-11 to 0-06 clear at half-time.
Meath, with Menton and Jones in strong form, dominated the middle third and ran hard at the Cork defence with the Munster men consistently resorting to fouling to stop them.
That paved the way for goalkeeper Hogan to slot over five points from frees in the opening half alone, O’Reilly winning three of those frees.
Meath’s dynamism and positivity made a welcome change for supporters who’d watched them slump to morale crushing defeats against Galway and Roscommon.
They drew with Down in their previous home game and were fortunate to pinch a late goal to draw again with Offaly in Round 4.
Remarkably, Meath lost the pre-match toss and played into the strong wind on each of those four occasions and suffered the same fate this time though they made light of the stiff breeze.
Brian Hurley was a late addition to the Cork team and showed glimpses of excellence, almost catching Meath’s keeper Hogan out with a looping kick from the left wing that dropped just over the bar.
The Meath defence was largely comfortable though with Robin Clarke, Eoin Harkin and Jordan Muldoon all contributing to the attack at different stages.
Cork enjoyed a brief burst of scoring with three points in a row between the 17th and 22nd minutes, from Stephen Sherlock and Hurley, but Meath’s response was emphatic as they closed out the half with five points in a row to take a commanding half-time lead.
Cork manager Keith Ricken gathered his players into a circle and offered encouraging words before leaving the field for the interval.
It got a little better for Cork before getting a whole lot worse.
They restarted with points from free-taker Stephen Sherlock and former underage star Cathail O’Mahony, cutting the gap to just three points after 48 minutes.
But then came that 1-04 scoring burst from Meath which all but put the result beyond doubt.
Jason Scully was fouled by Kieran Histon for the 53rd-minute penalty that Morris converted – thanks to a rebound off the post and goalkeeper – and there were points too from Scully, James McEntee, Menton and O’Reilly.
Grimes pulled back a 57th-minute goal for Cork after being fed by Ian Maguire but they needed much more and it never arrived as Meath defended for their lives in the closing 10 minutes or so.
Meath: Harry Hogan (0-05, 0-05f); Robin Clarke, Jordan Muldoon, Eoin Harkin; Donal Keogan, Padraic Harnan, Cathal Hickey; Bryan Menton (0-02), Ronan Jones; Jason Scully (0-01), Thomas O’Reilly (0-01), Mathew Costello (0-01); Jordan Morris (1-02), Shane Walsh (0-01), Cillian O’Sullivan (0-02).
Subs: James McEntee (0-02) for Hickey h/t, Eamon Wallace for Scully 60, Bryan McMahon for O’Sullivan 65, Joey Wallace (0-01) for Walsh 65, Ronan Ryan for Harkin 71.
Cork: Micheal Martin; Kevin O’Donovan, Kevin Flahive, Tadhg Corkery; Rory Maguire (0-01), Kieran Histon, Mattie Taylor; Ian Maguire, Colm O’Callaghan; Daniel Dineen, Fionn Herlihy, Shane Merritt; Blake Murphy, Brian Hurley (0-02), Stephen Sherlock (0-05, 0-03f, 0-01 45).
Subs: John O’Rourke for O’Callaghan 19-24 blood, Joe Grimes (1-00) for Merritt 31, Cathail O’Mahony (0-02) for Herlihy h/t, Cian Kiely for Taylor h/t, O’Rourke for Dineen 39-43 blood, Paul Ring for Corkery 44, Mark Cronin for Murphy 57-f/t blood, Brian Hayes for Hurley 62, O’Rourke for O’Callaghan 70-f/t blood.
Referee: Liam Devenney (Mayo).