Wexford 1-24 Westmeath 1-16

Ian Byrne helped himself to 1-07 as Wexford got their Leinster SHC campaign off to a winning if unconvincing start in Mullingar.

The Slaneysiders were outplayed in the final 15 minutes or so and will feel they simply must improve against holders and All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in a fortnight's time.

But progression was paramount in the quarter-final tie and they achieved that with eight points to spare against a Westmeath side who took an hour to get going.

In fact, it wasn't until a serious injury to free-taker Derek McNicholas late on that the hosts found their best form, sniping 1-4 in the closing stages to leave Wexford with some questions to answer.

McNicholas left the field on a stretcher after an apparent neck injury, necessitating 12 minutes of injury-time.

Liam Dunne's visitors barely needed to play above fourth gear for the first 60 minutes or so. They were 15 points ahead at one stage.

It was a worrying day, injury-wise, for Westmeath who were also rocked before throw-in by the loss of Shane Power in the warm-up. The Clonkill defender crumpled to the ground after being apparently struck on the face guard by a stray ball.

He received medical attention for a number of minutes before being helped off the field clutching his face.

With Gary Greville also ruled out, it meant Westmeath had two changes to their official full-back line.

They held their own initially, and the sides were level at 0-02 apiece after 10 minutes.

But four Wexford points without reply from Paul Morris, Byrne and Jack Guiney put clear daylight between the sides for the first time.

Westmeath managed just one point from open play in the entire first-half. It came from Joe Clarke, the late replacement for Greville.

The rest of their scores came from the hurl of McNicholas.

Wexford were far more economical in attack. Conor McDonald helped himself to two points and midfielders David Redmond and Harry Kehoe chipped in three points between them.

Wexford were full value for their 0-15 to 0-6 half-time lead and a Byrne goal three minutes after the restart all but sealed victory.

It was a fine strike across goal after a probing solo run down the right.

The Ferns man added another point from a free before Daithi Waters and Paul Morris got scores. Westmeath looked frustrated at times and picked up five yellow cards.

But they did at least finish strong and with Kilkenny on the horizon, Wexford will be frustrated that they couldn't match them in the closing stages.

Wexford: M Fanning; E Moore, M O'Hanlon, L Ryan; A Shore (0-01), L Chin, D O'Keeffe; D Redmond (0-03), H Kehoe (0-01); J Guiney (0-01), D Waters (0-02), I Byrne (1-07, 0-06f, 0-01 65); P Morris (0-05, 0-01f), C McDonald (0-03), L Og McGovern (0-01).

Subs: K Foley for Guiney, R Jacob for McGovern, G Sinnott for Kehoe, S Tomkins for McDonald, P Doran for Byrne.

Westmeath: S McGovern; K Duncan, T Doyle, L Varley; A Craig, A Clarke (0-01), A McGrath; E Price, C Boyle (0-01); A Devine (0-01), D McNicholas (0-05, 0-05f), J Clarke (0-01); N Dowdall (0-02), B Murtagh (1-04, 0-01f), D Clinton.

Subs: E Corrigan for Price, K Murphy (0-01) for McNicholas.

Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).