A highly impressive Knockbeg were well worth their 12-point victory over Luke Dempsey's St Joseph's Rochfortbridge at a bitterly cold Dr Cullen Park.
The Westmeath side opened and closed the scoring, but in between they were outclassed by a Knockbeg side who could have a strong say in the destination of provincial honours this year.
Knockbeg led by 2-4 to 1-2 at half-time, with their second goal coming from the game's outstanding player, Aaron Forbes, who fielded the ball superbly before crashing home a thunderbolt shot. A string of well-taken, unanswered Knockbeg points in the third quarter was supplemented by a David Tomkins goal on 41 minutes, and that put the game well beyond Joseph's, who could muster only two late points.
Scorers – Knockbeg: A Forbes (1f), D Tomkins 1-2 each, E O'Neill 1-1, D O'Reilly 0-2, JJ Mahon, C Hogan, M Kehoe (f) 0-1 each. St Joseph's: K Doyle 1-0, S Murtagh, S Corcoran, F McGuinness (1f), A Glynn 0-1 each.
Knockbeg – D Halpin; L Knowles, D Brophy, K Doyle; A Campion, D Ramsbottom, L Sullivan; JJ Mahon, C Hogan; M Kehoe, A Forbes, D O'Reilly; E O'Neill, D Tomkins, C Dunne. Subs: D Lawlor for Sullivan (42), N Leech for Knowles (49), A McGrath for Forbes (55), M Rennick for Campion (56).
St Joseph's - R Coyne; L O'Reilly, D Rigney, Jason Gorman; C Doyle, L Gallagher, M Hegarty; C Burke, D Giles; Jack Gorman, S Corcoran, K Doyle; F McGuinness, S Murtagh, I Kilcoyne. Subs: G Morgan for Burke (38), S Duncan for K Doyle (42), N McCabe for C Doyle (46), D Raleigh for Jason Gorman (49), A Glynn for McGuinness (58).
Ref – A Lagrue (Kildare).