Meath's welcome return to the top-flight ended in disappointment in Healy Park yesterday afternoon as Tyrone pulled away after the break to claim a 1-14 to 1-9 victory.
Despite the reverse, the Royals can derive a fair degree of encouragement from their battling display with the excellence of Darren McCurry in the home attack ultimately proving the difference between the teams.
His performance was all the more eye-catching given the presence of Cathal McShane in the stands with Tyrone supremo Mickey Harte unsure as to the future availability of the talented All Star full-forward.
"I didn't know he was back from Australia," he said. "I had been talking to him before he went out there and knew he was going out for 10 to 15 days at least.
"I didn't know he was back and he didn't tell me he had landed back in our world yet.
"I don't think there is any big deal in that. Whatever way it happens it doesn't matter.
"All we need to know is the final decision. Is he going to be there for us this year or is he going to be in Australia? And when he gives us that final decision we will know where we stand," said Harte.
McCurry kicked 1-6 in total with his 10th minute goal cancelled out by a major from Meath's Bryan McMahon as Tyrone led by 1-5 to 1-4 at half-time.
Meath were left to bemoan a raft of injuries that undermined their challenge with goalkeeper Andy Colgan damaging his knee in the warm-up, to be replaced by Dominic Yorke, who was himself substituted at half-time in favour of Barry Dardis. Colgan's injury came on the back of the non-appearance of regulars such as Mickey Newman, Seamus Lavin, Pádraic Harnan, Shane McEntee, Shane Walsh and Donal Lenihan with manager Andy McEntee disappointed that his team failed to take full advantage of the chances that came their way over the course of the game.
"It was a bit frustrating in that we did a lot of good things in the first half and we did not avail of the opportunities that we created.
"And when you are playing a better class of team, these things always come back to haunt you.
"And it did," he added.
Croke Park was not the only venue that was treated to a thrilling conclusion on Saturday night as Donegal and Mayo played out a 0-19 to 2-13 draw in front of an attendance 8,759 in Ballybofey.
The hosts were in control for the large part, once again looking to the talismanic figure of Michael Murphy for inspiration and his eight points from placed balls appeared set to be the decisive contribution on the night.
However, the introduction of substitute James Durcan in the 65th minute helped turn the tide in Mayo's favour and his spectacular goal in the seventh minute of added time, albeit with a slight deflection, helped rescue a share of the spoils for James Horan's charges.
Donegal will rue some errant shooting in the first-half that saw them kick eight wides and land three attempts short but despite the concession of a fortuitous goal to James Carr at the end of the first quarter, they still enjoyed a deserved 0-9 to 1-4 interval lead.
They continued to dictate the pace of the game after the break with late points by Ciarán Thompson and Murphy looked set to secure the win prior to Durcan's dramatic late intervention.
A weekend of closely-fought encounters was completed in Pearse Stadium, Salthill as Galway withstood a brave Monaghan comeback to eventually prevail by 1-14 to 0-16.
The pivotal score arrived in the 15th minute as Galway corner-forward Robert Finnerty put the finishing touches to a fine move involving Shane Walsh and Michael Boyle to help Galway to a 1-8 to 0-8 advantage by the turnaround with Conor McManus having a penalty superbly repelled by home goalkeeper Connor Gleeson.
Galway extended the advantage to five points by the 43rd minute but then Monaghan struck with five points in-a-row as Kieran Hughes, McManus, Christopher McGuinness, Jack McCarron and Aaron Mulligan all found the range to tie the game at 1-11 to 0-14 with ten minutes left.
A frantic conclusion ensued with points from Walsh and Matthias Barrett proving sufficient for new manager Pádraic Joyce by the end.