This section does not cite any sources. The county had to wait until 1939 for its next appearance at All-Ireland level, this time losing narrowly to Kerry by 2-5 to 2-3 in the final. All-Ireland success finally came in 1949 when Meath beat Cavan in the final by 1-10 to R M Yana PDF-6.
During this period, their Leinster Championship rivalry with Louth became legendary: in the six provincial championships between 1948 and 1953 the sides met each year. The 1949 match went to three meetings, while those of 1950 and 1951 were replayed. Meath’s team of the 1960s was characterised by a chronic inability to score until after half-time, but might have reached the 1964 All-Ireland final had a goal by Jack Quinn not been controversially disallowed in the semi-final. After the 1966 final defeat, centre-back Bertie Cunningham declared that « next year, we will come back and win the All-Ireland ».
Meath won the National Football League in 1975 and looked a promising prospect for the All-Ireland. Defeat at the hands of Kevin Heffernan’s Dublin team, however, was an indication of what was to come. Meath looked far from All-Ireland Championship material when losing to Wexford in 1981 and Longford in 1982. Boylan’s initial appointment was greeted with scepticism as it had always been known that he was a capable hurler, but his role in football had been seen as merely repairing the players, not training them.
Boylan’s first task was to prepare Meath for an opening match against a Dublin team led by legendary midfielder Brian Mullins. In 1984 the GAA initiated a one-off competition called the Centenary Cup, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the GAA’s foundation. Centenary Cup final was ultimately played between Meath and Monaghan. The 1980s team progressed cautiously towards victory. They missed full-back Mick Lyons for the 1984 Leinster final against Dublin and in 1985 slipped up against Laois in the semi-final.
In 1991, the Leinster GAA Council decided to abandon the seeding system that had kept the previous year’s finalists in opposite sides of the Leinster Championship draw. As a result, Meath and Dublin, having played the previous five Leinster finals, were drawn against each other in the Preliminary Round of the 1991 Leinster Championship. The third meeting of the teams was expected to be close, but because the Dublin players were younger and more resourceful, as time went on Dublin were expected to gain the upper hand. The third game, though, again ended in a draw, even after extra time, and a fourth match was required. At this stage it seemed impossible for either team to overcome the other. A tired Meath had finally qualified for the First Round of the Leinster Championship, and played the next match against Wicklow, which also ended in a draw, before Meath emerged victorious in yet another replay. Meath then proceeded to beat Laois in the semi-final, before overcoming Offaly to win their hardest-fought Leinster title yet.