Holders Cuala finished strongly to eventually pull away from a determined Thomas Davis and register a 1-22 to 0-15 victory in their Group 4 encounter at Bray Emmets on Saturday evening.
The visitors gave an excellent account of themselves, with their lack of experience at this level betraying them on occasions as they lost their composure in front of goal at key times.
There was little to separate the teams in the opening half, with Sean Reilly's five frees just reward for a plentiful amount of Thomas Davis possession with their tally augmented by points from play by Daire Kerr, Kevin Ward and Reilly.
However, Con O'Callaghan broke through for 1-2 during that period and with Liam Murphy and Sean Moran sharing five points, the hosts entered the break with a 1-9 to 0-8 interval lead.
The contest remained competitive upon the restart but gradually the hosts took control as Darragh O'Connell and O'Callaghan clipped over wo points apiece while Murphy's seven second-half frees ensured an unconvincing win for the champions.
Elsewhere in Group 4, Na Fianna had too much firepower for near neighbours Setanta, finishing on the front foot to record a healthy 5-32 to 1-16 win at St Mobhi Road.
Last year's beaten finalists, St Brigid's, were far more convincing as they eased to a facile 1-17 to 0-6 win over a lackluster Whitehall Colmcille in Russell Park.
The hosts took control from the first whistle, leading by 0-7 to 0-0 after twelve minutes and the contest was effectively settled by the break as they enjoyed a 0-11 to 0-4 interval advantage.
Any hopes of a Whitehall comeback were quickly dispelled after the break as Eoghan Dunne netted in the 34th minute and Colmcille's struggles were reflected in not one of their six scores coming from open play.
Dunne's 1-2 was added to by five Paul Winters points with Cathal Doyle, Cian O'Sullivan and Conor O'Brien chipping in with two points apiece over the hour.
There was another home success at Páirc Naomh Uinsionn as first-half goals from Johnny Walsh and Cian McBride helped St Vincent's to account for St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh by 2-21 to 1-16.
Those goals were the key difference in a relatively even opening half that saw Cian Boland land six points for Plunkett's, to leave his side trailing by 2-9 to 0-9 at the break.
Boland continued to impress in the second-half, taking his personal tally to ten points by the close, but his efforts alongside a Stuart Mullen goal and three points from Cillian Hayes proved in vain as Vinnies took the spoils thanks to ten John Hetherton points and five Rian McBride scores from play.
Lucan Sarsfields were another team to enjoy their home comforts as they defeated Ballinteer St John's by 2-18 to 1-14 at the 12th Lock.
Matthew Dunne's fortuitous goal in the first-half took the wind from the Ballinteer sails and although they kept in touch primarily through the free-taking of Seamus Fenton and a strong showing at midfield from Iain Ó hEithir, Lucan confirmed their win through a superb second-half goal from Chris Crummey.
SHC 'A' Group 1: St Vincent's 2-21 St Oliver Plunkett's/ER 1-16; Lucan Sarsfields 2-18 Ballinteer St John's 1-14.
SHC 'A' Group 2: Craobh Chiaráin 1-18 Scoil Uí Chonaill 1-9
SHC 'A' Group 3: St Brigid's 1-17 Whitehall Colmcille 0-6; Faughs 1-18 St Jude's 1-18.
SHC 'A' Group 4: Na Fianna 5-32 Setanta 1-16; Cuala 1-22 Thomas Davis 0-15.