Louth lay waste to Westmeath after break
Westmeath's visit to Haggardstown against was billed as a 'four-pointer' by both camps in the build-up, and it was Louth who drew first blood (0-12 to 1-6) in the likely battleagainst relegation with an impressive second-half display.
Trailing by two points a minute after the break, the hosts kicked six without reply in a 20-minute spell to repeat their Division 3 League final success over a depleted Westmeath.
Shorn of their Garrycastle contingent and a few hurling defectors, the midlanders paid the price for a glaring lack of firepower in the first half as they ran out of steam completely.
A well-worked goal from Callum McCormack had given the visitors a slight edge in a scratchy first period.
Louth forged two points ahead early on through Darren Clarke and Ronan Carroll, but Trevor English pulled one back for Westmeath and a minute later they hit the front courtesy of McCormack's goal, set up by Alan Giles and Philip Sheridan.
Louth recovered with points from Carroll, Clarke and Paddy Keenan, but Kieran Martin and McCormack made it 1-3 to 0-5 at the break.
Martin kicked an early free to extend Westmeath's lead after the restart, but, inspired by 2010 All Star Paddy Keenan, the hosts took complete control.
Liam Shevlin and Clarke levelled the scores before Keenan fired three points and set up Aaron Hoey.
A couple of late points from Giles made for a nervy final few moments, but Clarke put the seal on a crucial win with a late free.
Galway fielded the fresher-faced team at Celtic Park, but Alan Mulholland's charges showed grace under pressure to close out a well-earned 1-15 to 1-11 victory against an out-of-sorts Derry.
Having seen Derry claw their way back to within a point with eight minutes remaining, the Tribesmen settled themselves and four coolly taken scores from Michael Martin, Cathal Kenny and Nicky Joyce (two) gave them a somewhat unexpected victory.
The result was well deserved for the Connacht men, who laid the groundwork in the first half.
Having trailed by 1-3 to 0-3 after Cailean O'Boyle's fisted goal on 17 minutes, Mulholland's side dominated the second quarter during which they outscored the Oak Leafers by 1-5 to 0-1. Gareth Bradshaw scored the goal for Galway, who gave veteran Joe Bergin a run as a substitute in the second half.