MEATH booked themselves into an early season duel with old rivals Dublin with a 2-13 to 0-13 O'Byrne defeat of LONGFORD in Ballymahon yesterday.
Inspired by a creative and scoring blitz from centre-forward Joe Sheridan, the Royals turned a four-point half-time deficit (0-10 to 1-3) into a commanding lead midway through the second half, with Jamie Queeney landing the first goal before Sheridan's 43rd-minute strike put the result well beyond Glenn Ryan's men.
In WESTMEATH, Brendan Hackett got his managerial career off to a losing start, his Lakeland county charges going down on the wrong side of a hefty 0-18 to 0-8 defeat by last year's finalists DCU.
LAOIS, meanwhile, found better fortune against third-level opposition, setting up a clash with Kildare after Cathal óg Greene's late goal gave them a 2-9 to 1-9 victory over DIT, for who Diarmuid Connolly netted a penalty and four frees.
An inexperienced WICKLOW side were hammered 2-18 to 0-11 points by O'Byrne Cup champions LOUTH in Baltinglass -- Brian White (1-6 (6f) and JP Rooney (1-2) netting the goals for Peter Fitzpatrick's men, while CARLOW went down to ATHONE IT by 0-12 to 0-8 and OFFALY skated past KILKENNY'S challenge in Thomastown, 1-23 to 0-6.
In the Dr McKenna Cup, St Oliver Plunkett's/ Eoghan Ruadh's Gareth Smith made an impressive debut for CAVAN, though his new team did go down to DONEGAL by 0-11 to 0-9 in Breffni Park.
Smith, who switched his allegiances to Cavan this year, kicked 0-7 -- six frees -- and his performance represented one of the few bright spots for manager Tom Carr on an otherwise disappointing afternoon.
TYRONE'S 2008 All-Ireland-winning minor star Kyle Coney decorated his senior intercounty debut by scoring five points from play in a spectacular performance for Mickey Harte's men.
Coney, who turned his back on an AFL contract with Aussie Rules outfit Sydney Swans, lined out at wing forward and contributed handsomely to the Red Hand's 0-26 to 0-10 win over ST MARY'S while DOWN'S recently returned Martin Clarke bagged 1-6 as the Mourne men eased past Queen's in Newry.