Westmeath's Late Late Show at home
Westmeath 1-13 Meath 1-13
Westmeath's defence of the O'Byrne Cup wobbled before a pointed free in the fourth minute of injury time from John Heslin steered it back on course in Mullingar on Saturday.
Nothing less than a win would was sufficient for Meath who are now out of contention.
Though they had nine different scorers compared to five for the home side and led at the end of full time, Meath failed to close out the contest.
"Realistically we should have killed the game off," said team boss Andy McEntee.
A draw from their new last group game against Louth on January 4 will secure Westmeath a place in the semi-final.
St Loman's clubman Heslin, who was playing on his home pitch Lakepoint Park, was the most influential player on the field - particularly in the first half - when he hit four frees and one point from play to help his side to a 1-7 to 1-5 internal lead.
Meath introduced five subs at the break and another four including All Star nominee Donal Keogan by the hour mark. They finally found their rhythm between the 56th and 63rd minutes kicking four unanswered points to led by two (1-13; 1-11).
But late scores from Westmeath substitute Alan Neary and Heslin - his sixth free- left the sides level at full time. Meath James McEntee was sent off near the end after picking up a second booking.
While the new rules had a minimum influence Andy McEntee believes there will be fewer goal chances because of their introduction. He is not a fan - particularly of the 'marks.'
"If a fella gets a mark inside his first reaction is going to put up his hand instead of playing on. As a result I think it will be counter-productive.
"There is a mark inside the two 50s as well as in the middle of the field.
"We are making our game a game of Aussie Rules," suggested the Meath boss.
Scorers: Westmeath: J Heslin 0-7(6f), C McCormack 1-0, K Martin 0-3, D Corroon, R O'Toole, A Neary 0-1 each. Meath: S Walsh 0-4 (4f), B McMahon 0-3, D Lenihan 1-0, J O'Connor, C O'Sullivan (1m) T O'Reilly, C Halligan, O O'Brien., C Conlon 0-1 each.