Newly promoted to Division 1B, Kerry defeated a committed Down side in this Christy Ring opener in Tralee, but it was far from a vintage performance from the Kingdom.
Down made a flying start, racing 1-3 to 0-1 clear inside the opening 10 minutes, with Danny Toner getting the goal. Kerry hit back with three long-range points, two from Paddy Kelly and one from Darran Dineen, followed by a Padraig Boyle goal to level by the 13th minute.
Shane Nolan's four points put Kerry ahead and, with Down's wide count reaching nine by the interval, a superb Colm Harty goal gave the hosts a 2-7 to 1-5 half-time lead. Kerry controlled the second half without hitting top form, with Kelly bringing his tally to four from play.
Down substitute Chris Egan shot 1-1 and Toner and James Coyle added some fine points, but Kerry - with keeper Stephen Murphy making two top-drawer saves - eased to victory, despite lacking the fluency of recent performances.
Derry, meanwhile, progressed to the second round after an unconvincing 0-13 to 0-11 victory over Mayo at Owenbeg. Backed by a gale force wind in the opening half, the visitors built up a 0-10 to 0-4 half-time lead thanks largely to Kenny Feeney's eight points from placed balls.
Derry set about eating into the lead right from the restart and were ahead by the 53rd minute, with free-taker Ruairi Convery and John O'Dwyer doing the damage. Derry looked set to pull clear but Mayo fought back and left the hosts nervously relying on an injury-time free from substitute Deaglan Foley to secure their passage.
In Trim, Jack Regan scored 0-10 and Jack Fagan got 1-5 as Meath thrashed 13-man Wicklow 1-21 to 1-5. Dual player Mickey Burke capped a powerhouse display with a brace of points. Wicklow lost captain John Henderson to a straight red card after just eight minutes.
Wind-assisted Meath led 1-12 to 0-2 at half-time and were never in danger after the break. Wicklow lost Eugene Dunne to a second yellow late on
In Ruislip, Luke Hands struck a last-gasp goal at the end of extra-time as London drew a Christy Ring Cup thriller with holders Kildare, 2-23 apiece.
The Lilywhites had earlier needed a goal at the end of normal time, courtesy of Mark Moloney, to deny London in an action-packed contest.
Armagh are among the favourites to win the Nicky Rackard Cup but on the evidence of a cagey 2-16 to 2-11 win over 13-man Louth, they still have plenty of work to do.
Sean Connolly got an early goal for Louth - who lost defenders Johnny Carter and Brian Carter to red cards late on - but Eoin McGuinness soon responded. Top scorer Ryan Gaffney, who finished with 1-6, got a goal to help his side to a 2-6 to 1-8 half-time lead.
Roger Maher struck Louth's second goal and Liam Dwan's accuracy from frees helped level the score at 2-10 each with 62 minutes played. But Armagh put the game to bed with substitute Declan Coulter slotting over three points, including a penalty.
Damian Casey was the stand out player as a hungrier and sharper Tyrone side beat Donegal 1-12 to 0-11 in Letterkenny. The Tyrone captain finished with 1-7. His stunning 11th-minute goal set his side on their way to a 1-6 to 0-8 interval lead, and they were never really troubled in a second half where Donegal lost centre-back Joe Boyle to a second yellow card.
Pauric Dowdall fired a hat-trick for Monaghan as they beat Longford 4-10 to 0-10 in Clones. An early Stephen Lambe penalty helped the hosts to a 1-4 to 0-6 lead, and although Fergal Rafter was dismissed, they refused to let up.
Roscommon progressed after a 3-12 to 0-9 victory over Fingal in Swords. Fingal played the majority of the game with 14 men after Paul Graves' 27th-minute dismissal. Ronan O'Meara got the Rossies' first goal three minutes before half-time, and when Jerry Fallon flicked home a second after the restart, it put the game beyond Fingal. Cathal Kenny grabbed the third.
Fermanagh were too good for visitors Warwickshire in the Lory Meagher Cup, waltzing to a 3-12 to 2-7 win. At one stage the home side were 2-9 to 1-0 ahead through goals from JP McGarry and Ciaran Corrigan. But Warwickshire came back with 1-3 before the break, David Millea grabbing his second goal of the game to leave just six points between the sides.
They cut the deficit to four within minutes of the resumption but Fermanagh found a second wind and, when Corrigan flashed home his second goal after being put through by Daniel Teague, their first win of the season was secure.
Led by man of the match Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch, Sligo stormed to a 4-16 to 2-12 win over Leitrim with a cracking second-half performance after the sides were level at the break.
A 55th-minute Peader Leonard goal was the turning point for the visitors at Ballinamore.
Goals by Ciarán Brennan and Gerard O'Kelly Lynch for Sligo answered Leitrim maximums from Zac Moradi and sub Karl McDermott in the first half.
Sunday Indo Sport