Down manager Gerard Monan was left to rue missed chances when his side were pipped 2-16 to 1-18 by resilient Meath in the Allianz Hurling League Division Two clash at Pairc Esler, Newry.
Ostensibly it was a meeting between two old rivals but in essence it morphed into a shoot-out between Down's ace marksman Paul Braniff and Meath scorer-in-chief Stephen Clinch.
The fact that the latter won this particular battle by racking up a prodigious 1-12 against Braniff's impressive 1-9 ultimately influenced the outcome.
Monan was left shaking his head in disbelief at his side's 14 wides.
Points from Aidan O'Prey, Danny Toner and the mercurial Braniff had thrust Down into a three-point lead near the end but a late Clinch goal that was embellished by an even later point saw Meath leave with an opening round win under their belts.
Armagh were unlucky to lose 0-22 to 0-14 against London at the Athletic Grounds where two controversial decisions by Antrim referee Gerard Duffy sparked ire within the home support.
With the match delicately poised at 0-18 to 0-13, Duffy turned down strong Armagh claims for a penalty after full-forward Conor Corvan appeared to have been upended and then disallowed a goal by the same player because of having blown for an earlier foul.
Armagh's woes were further compounded when Cathal Carvill was sent off after an off-the-ball tussle, with London's James Egan suffering a similar fate three minutes from the end.
Sub Martin Beggan, on his senior debut, scored a late goal in Fermanagh's 2-12 to 1-11 win against Tyrone.