Horan's double puts Kilmacud on road to win
Kilmacud 3-12 Ballyboden SE 1-11
The clash between Ballyboden St Enda's and Kilmacud Crokes was billed as the tie of the round and the protagonists did not disappoint in a contest that highlighted the quality widely associated with the senior championship in the capital.
The outcome was just rewards for a Crokes team that largely played the game on its own terms and while they endured a number of sticky passages throughout the encounter, they possessed the required poise and maturity to finish in the ascendancy against a Boden team that struggled for fluency in attack throughout.
Shane Horan proved the scoring hero for Kilmacud as his side led 2-6 to 0-6 at the interval, his two goals coming inside a minute at the end of the first quarter handing his side both the buffer and the belief to withstand the expected St Enda's onslaught after the break.
That arrived within a minute of the restart as Dublin minor of 2016 and '17 James Madden, a dangerous and vibrant performer from the first minute to last, raced through for an excellent individual goal to reduce his team's deficit to just three points.
Crucially, and this was a recurring theme throughout the match, Kilmacud were able to reply with their strong midfield pairing of Conor Casey and Craig Dias both pointing within three minutes of Madden's goal to help restore their team's momentum.
That momentum was generated from the outset as Crokes started on the front foot with a sublime Tom Fox pass allowing Cian O'Connor the space to fist over in the second minute.
Dan O'Brien doubled that advantage a minute later and a Pat Burke free in the fifth minute was as positive an opening that Kilmacud could have wished for.
Boden have a wealth of experience and talent in their ranks and it was no surprise to see them hit back as Madden opened their account with a score that highlighted his pace and skill. Darren O'Reilly and Colm Basquel added to Madden's score as parity was restored by the ninth minute but this period of ascendancy failed to yield further scores and St Enda's were left to rue three poor wides once Horan grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.
There seemed little danger as he gathered possession around centrefield in the 13th minute but after trading passes with Dias, he embarked on a powerful surge through the heart of the Boden defence that culminated in a precise finish past the despairing dive of Conor Dooley.
Matters deteriorated for St Enda's two minutes later with Horan left in far too much space as he flicked Liam Flatman's well-judged pass cleverly past the out-rushing Dooley for a goal of immense quality.
With Kilmacud forcing a number of turnovers from a Ballyboden team that struggled for width throughout, the initiative remained with the Stillorgan outfit and points from Paul Mannion and the lively O'Connor ensured a 2-6 to 0-6 advantage.
After that aforementioned flurry of scores at the start of the second-half, Boden enjoyed their most dominant period and whittled their deficit down to two points by the 43rd minute as Madden, Ryan Basquel and Colm Basquel all pointed.
However, they failed to score for the ensuing 12 minutes and as they chased the game, their exposed defence was picked off to perfection as O'Brien fed substitute Callum Pearson for an immaculately-taken goal in the 54th minute.
Pearson, a Dublin U21 last year, revelled in the space afforded to him as he clipped over two further points, completing a convincing and well-merited success for a Crokes team that must now become favourites to top this most difficult of groups.