Kildare, Kerry and Donegal enjoyed winning starts to their All-Ireland U21HC 'B' campaigns today.
The closest of the first round games was in Arklow where Kildare held off a late Wicklow rally to win by 1-14 to 1-12.
Shane Ryan's 16th minute goal helped the Lilywhites to a commanding 1-9 to 0-3 interval lead, but the hosts staged a fine second half comeback which saw them draw level on 1-12 apiece with four minutes to go thanks to an Enda Donohue '65. But Kildare replied with late points from Ryan and Kevin Aherne to set up a meeting with Kerry, who were 2-20 to 2-9 winners over Down in Mullingar.
The Kingdom have dominated this competition in recent years and pulled away in the second half after Down had only trailed by two points, 1-5 to 0-10, at the break.
Meanwhile, Donegal will face Sligo in the quarter-final next weekend after they accounted for Tyrone by 3-13 to 2-4 in Killyclogher.