Kilmacud Crokes3-19 Ballyboden St Enda's1-10
A devastating second-half display saw Kilmacud Crokes cruise to an impressive fifteen point victory over near neighbours Ballyboden St Enda's in their Dublin Minor Hurling League Division 1 encounter at Páirc Uí Mhurchú last Sunday morning.
The visitors trailed by three points as the break but they clicked into gear in the second-half and their wealth of attacking options proved too much for a battling Boden outfit, who would have learned much in their first competitive outing of the year, despite the negative result.
Darragh Butler enjoyed an influential role for the winners in a less than familiar role at full-forward but it was further out the field that Kilmacud exerted a control on matters with wing-back Jim Gibbons delivering an exceptional display throughout.
Ronan Hayes was another player to produce a mature performance in the Crokes engine room while the pace and accuracy of their wing-forwards Johnny Maher and Feargal Whitely ensured Kilmacud enjoyed tangible reward for the generous amounts of possession that the visitors enjoyed.
For the hosts, it was a disappointing conclusion after a lively first-half showing in which Ballyboden received the perfect start in the 3rd minute when corner-forward Ruairí Kirwan reacted quickest inside the square to poke home after Michael Boland's free had dropped short in front of goal.
Although Tom Fox converted a tricky free soon after, the balance of play was definitely in St Enda's favour initially and the lively Boland turned sharply to increase his side's advantage after six minutes. The Ballyboden full-forward continued to inconvenience the Kilmacud defence in the early stages and a more economical home outfit inched further ahead thanks to the ubiquitous Boland.
Despite the sticky nature of the pitch, Whitely's pace was beginning to cause panic down Boden's right flank but some poor options in front of goal ensured Crokes struggled to reduce their arrears despite some advantageous positions.
Maher did manage to add a brace of frees for Kilmacud before scoring his side's first point from play at the end of the first quarter but the hosts replied impressively with Aidan Mellett and Luke O'Donoghue pointing to leave three points between the sides.
Whitely finally opened his personal account with a classy score in the 21st minute and it proved tit-for-tat up until the half-time whistle with Mellett showing a great touch to complete his brace as St Enda's enjoyed a deserved 1-7 to 0-7 interval lead.
That momentum was maintained within seconds of the turnaround as Boland clipped over an excellent score but it proved a false dawn for the hosts, who failed to score from play for the ensuing thirty minutes.
In contrast, the fluency that was missing from Kilmacud in the first-half, proved a feature of the tie as they struck 2-4 inside eight minutes to open up a sizeable lead.
After Seán Dunbar and Alex Considine had pointed, Whitely jinked inside the Boden defence before applying a clever finish across Oisín Carolan for his side's first goal in the 36th minute.
Hayes and Gibbons added to their burgeoning belief with further points and in the 39th minute, Butler used all his physique and determination to muscle his way past a phalanx of defenders with a tidy finish from six yards the almost inevitable result.
Boland offered brief respite for the hosts when pointing a 41st minute free but the game was put beyond their reach two minutes later as Butler batted home after Carolan had worked wonders in denying Stephen O'Dwyer's initial shot.
With gaps appearing in the home defence, the pace of Whitely became increasingly prominent and two superb points inside a minute showcased his progressive influence.
At the opposite end of the field, Eoin Sheehy and Cathal Keane offered the visitors a solid defensive spine while their counter-attacking ability allowed Considine and Whitely to put further distance between the sides in what was a hugely encouraging and satisfying start to the season for Collie Maher's charges.
Scorers - Kilmacud Crokes: F Whitely 1-4, J Maher 0-7 (0-5f), D Butler 2-0, T Fox (0-1f, 0-1 '65'), J Gibbons, A Considine 0-2 each, S Dunbar, R Hayes 0-1 each. Ballyboden St Enda's: M Boland 0-6 (0-3f), R Kirwan 1-0, A Mellett 0-2, L O'Donoghue, R Byrne 0-1 each.
Kilmacud Crokes: C Fleming; C McNicholas, E Sheehy, S McEntee; J Gibbons, C Keane, C O'Dwyer; T Fox, R Hayes; J Maher, A Considine, F Whitely; S O'Dwyer, D Butler, S Dunbar. Subs: M Roche for S O'Dwyer (47), M Connor for McEntee (50), C Ryan for C O'Dwyer (51), K Lanigan for Fox (52).
Ballyboden St Enda's: O Carolan; D Byrne, K Cronin, C Kelly; S McDonnell, L Corcoran, T Deane; J Murphy, L O'Donoghue; A Mellett, N Hester, C Kennedy; R Kirwan, M Boland, R Byrne. Subs: K Weldon for D Byrne (12), C Ryan for O'Donoghue (45), S Gorman for Kennedy (51), C Barton for McDonnell (54).
Mentors - Kilmacud Crokes: Collie Maher, James Ó Cléirigh, Dermot "Chuck" Connor, Paddy Lenihan. Balyboden St Enda's: Andrew Coffey, Dave Sweeney, Dan Boland, Daragh Spain, Naoise Maguire, Conor McCormack.
Referee: James Brennan (Faughs)
Wides: Kilmacud Crokes 9 (6+3) Ballyboden St Enda's 4 (2+2)
Conditions: Heavy and sticky surface after incessant overnight rain.
Player of the Game: Jim Gibbons (Kilmacud Crokes)