AIDAN O'Rourke could scarcely have asked for a smoother takeoff to his exciting new journey with Louth, as the Reds cruised to a comfortable five-point win over UCD on Sunday.
Apart from an early bout of turbulence from the Students, it was largely plain-sailing for the home side, with two timely goals ensuring a safe landing for O'Rourke and his experimental line-up.
The manager is still running the rule over his extended squad before he digs out his scalpel for the National League, but he certainly wasn't reckless and, for all the experimenting, his first Louth XV also boasted a large dollop of experience.
His hand was forced somewhat by a stomach bug in the camp in the build-up to the game, but while he dished out two debuts in his fullback line to Bernard Mulligan and Gary Connolly, played Cathal Bellew and Adrian Reid in wingback roles and Dessie Finnegan in midfield, his front six was packed with familiar faces, who ultimately made the difference against a porous UCD defence.
At times Louth were able to work the ball from back to front with alarming ease, with Clarke's 33rd minute goal a perfect case in point. Adrian Reid caught Meath's Ciaran Lenehan ballwatching with a peach of a crossfield ball to Andy McDonnell. He picked out Jim McEneaney, who selflessly teed up the simplest of tap-ins for Darren Clarke.
Just before that Louth had taken the lead for the first time in the match with a McEneaney point, and in truth UCD were full value for their early ascendency.
Ironically it was probably Niall Kilroy's ninth minute goal that jolted their hosts to life, who despite being on level terms at two points apiece, were second best in most areas.
They slowly found their feet and then some rhythm, and with McDonnell and Ronan Carroll pulling the strings, Clarke, McEneaney and Reid took full advantage with some excellent movement up top.
A five-point half-time lead - 1-9 to 1-4 - was maybe a bit flattering and UCD worked hard to reduce it to three on two occasions after the interval, but another welltimed and cleverly manufactured goal put Louth firmly back in the driving seat.
Adrian Reid was again the catalyst, setting Carroll off on a trademark run through the UCD defence before laying off to David Reid, who in turn set up McEneaney for another straightforward finish.
A Clarke point soon after put seven between the sides and toil as they might in the closing the stages, the Students never looked like making any serious inroads into the deficit.
He might be new to the job but overall O'Rourke probably got pretty much what he expected from his front six. With Shane Lennon, Derek Maguire, Colm Judge and JP Rooney to come back into the reckoning and some young guns like Daniel O'Connor, Shane O'Hanlon, Ruairi Moore and Eoin O'Connor also putting the pressure on, the battle for jerseys 10-15 will be fierce.
Midfield will be equally cutthroat with James Califf, Brian White, Ronan Carroll, Brian Donnelly and maybe even Dessie Finnegan or Declan Byrne vying for one spot alongside Paddy Keenan.
However, like a number of his predecessors, O'Rourke might find constructing a settled and solid defence a little more difficult, but if Sunday is anything to go by he's accessing all of his options - and then some.
Along with two debutants, he played three men who would be more recognisable as forwards in his halfback line, with Adrian Reid in particular impressing in his new role at left half back.
O'Rourke is not lacking in talent at the back, with Padraig Rath - who came on as a sub on Sunday - Ray Finnegan, John O'Brien, Liam Shevlin, Mick Fanning, Declan Byrne and Gerard Hoey waiting in the wings and Dessie Finnegan unlikely to continue at midfield for very long.
Unearthing the best combination and pinning down a full-back and centre-half will be the real challenge, but experimenting is what the O'Byrne Cup is all about and Meath and Longford should provide a much sterner test in the coming days.