Meath ...... 1-22
Meath ended Wicklow's reign with an impressive showing in this Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland Under 21 HB opener at Trim on Saturday afternoon.
Scoring flourishes in the second and final quarters eased Meath into the next stage of the competition.
Following an evenly contested opening 27 minutes during which time the scores were tied four times Phillip O'Brien's charges cruised into the next round. Five unanswered points in the final six minutes of the opening half set Meath on their way.
They also outscored Wicklow by 1-6 to 0-0 from the 51st minute with the sole goal arriving in the 60th minute courtesy of sub Conor Kearney; a triumph for persistence by the Kildalkey man.
Team captain Jack Regan (who scored 2-7 in last year's All-Ireland final loss to Wicklow) finished with 15 points to his credit with all bar two coming from placed balls.
Six other Meath players got off the mark, including two subs.
Enda Donohoe was Wicklow's main marksman posting all bar two points of his side's total. Mark Lennon and Padraig Doran - members of last year's team - were the other marksmen for the Garden County side.
Wicklow were five points off the pace at the break, 0-6 to 0-11. They stayed in touch with Meath in the third quarter. Their cause was undermined by the dismissal of wing-back Daire Henderson in the 41st minute on receipt of his second yellow card.
Despite numerical deficiency, Wicklow cut the cap to just four points by the 51st minute when Donohoe landed a free into the town goal from his own 45.
Just as in the opening half, Meath finished with a flourish to advance with 13 points to spare.
The visitors were first to settle with Padraig Doran opening the scoring inside 40 seconds. The remainder of Wicklow's first-half scores came courtesy of corner-forward Enda Donohoe. His first effort doubled his side's lead.
Meath had clocked up four wides, playing with the breeze, towards the town goal in the first 10 minutes. They doubled that figure by half-time, but improved thereafter.
Jack Regan's points got them going and the sides were level for the first time, 0-3-all, after 14 minutes.
Then a Regan effort from play gave Phillip O'Brien's charges the lead for the first time. The scores were tied four times inside 12 minutes before Meath pushed on to lead by 0-11 to 0-6 at the break.
Things might have been better for the home side but Wicklow 'keeper Robert Fitzgerald turned Ross Ryan's drive over the bar to leave it 0-10 to 0-6.
Regan posted Meath's other scores in that late flourish to the half that saw them finish with eight wides.
Meath were less wasteful when playing into the breeze and that too had a bearing on the outcome.
Meath - Charlie Bird; Conor Dempsey, Iarla Hughes, Liam Ferguson; Sean Coloe, Ronan Ryan, David Reilly; Luke Martyn (0-2), Sean McGrath; Jack Regan (0-15, 12 fs 1 65), Fergal McCabe, Stefan Kelly (0-1); Ryan Moore, Gavin McGowan (0-1), Ross Ryan (0-1). Subs - Conor Kearney (1-1) for Kelly (41), Josh Wall for Moore (57), Eamon MacDonnchadha (0-1) for McCabe (59), Luke Moran for Coloe (59), Peter Slevin for Dempsey (60).
Wicklow - Robert Fitzgerald; Sean O'Callaghan, Andrew Hughes, Conal McCrea; Daire Henderson, Andrew Kavanagh, Drew Brennan; Mark Lennon (0-1), Jack Doyle; Padraig Doran (0-1), Eoin McCormack, Jack Montgomery; Tiernan Mellon, Wayne Kinsella, Enda Donohoe (0-10, 8fs 1 65). Subs - John Walshe for Mellon (49), Stephen Cruise for Montgomery (51), Padraig Doyle for Brennan (57).
Referee - Aidan Ferguson (Fermanagh)