CASTLEKNOCK 1-13, GARDA 1-5 - Castleknock gave a much-improved second-half performance in accounting for a battling Garda by eight points in their Dublin Adult Football League Division 4 encounter at a breezy Somerton Park last Saturday evening.
In doing so, the hosts maintained the pressure on fellow unbeaten side Scoil Uí Chonaill at the top of the table and there was a determination and structure to their game that augers well for the remainder of the campaign.
Similar to their match with Scoil Uí Chonaill a month ago, Garda fought tooth and nail for every ball but their good approach play, especially in the opening-half was once again undermined by some errant shooting and they lost their way to a degree after the restart.
They could not have asked for a better start however, as full-forward Brian Daly slalomed through the home defence before applying a clinical finish beyond Cian O'Hara in the second minute.
The hosts struggled initially to gain primary possession against an excellent Garda midfield pairing of James O'Donnell and Donal O'Connell with the former in particular illuminating the evening with a series of excellent fetches.
However, they finally opened their account through the polished left-boot of Tommy Corcoran in the fifth minute and they took the lead somewhat against the run of play when awarded a penalty three minutes later.
Jamie Tunney's run onto Shane Boland's exquisite pass was truncated by a challenge from Ronan Mulligan and Rory Corcoran sidefooted a confident penalty into the left-hand corner of David Moynihan's goal.
Keith Halley was especially influential for the visitors in the early exchanges and a precise pass in the 12th minute allowed Willie Skelly to turn and restore parity with a well-taken score.
Garda's tactic at running directly at the Castleknock defence was bearing fruition at this stage and another run, this time from corner-forward Ger Reddy, culminated in them regaining their lead at the end of the first quarter.
Gradually, the hosts began to impose themselves on proceedings with Boland and Thomas Shiels to the fore and successive points by Cathal Daly and Tommy Corcoran restored their narrow advantage by the 20th minute.
Despite Skelly landing another fine score soon after, Castleknock were beginning to click through the gears and late points by Daly and Rory Corcoran ensured they enjoyed a flattering 1-5 to 1-3 interval lead.
The second-half resumed with a free apiece from both Rory Corcoran and Tommy Corcoran but Castleknock's challenge appeared to be handicapped by the 39th dismissal of full-back Paul Mulvihill for a second yellow-card.
It failed to inconvenience them and they registered the score of the game when Kevin Kindlon embarked on a mazy run from the sideline through a plethora of defenders before clipping over from 20m.
That score seemed to demoralise the visitors who could only add points from Skelly and Daly in the second-half and their evening deteriorated when Dennis Ellard was dismissed with three minutes left.
The hosts took advantage of the extra space to pull clear with late scores by Tommy Corcoran and substitute Cian Spillane, with the margin of double scores at the end failing to reflect Garda's efforts.