A BRACE of frees from Rory O'Donoghue helped Ballyboden St Enda's eke out a narrow one-point win over Castleknock in their absorbing Dublin AFL Division 3 encounter at Sancta Maria last Saturday evening.
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA'S 1-13
The visitors looked to have snatched victory when Stephen Byrne calmly converted a 40-metre free in the 64th minute to push his side a point clear, but an excellent point by substitute Conor Deane levelled matters before O'Donoghue's two frees ensured 'Boden remain on course for a promotion play-off spot.
Full-forward Tommy Corcoran added another point for 'Knock with the last kick of the game, but it was of no consequence.
The result was probably an equitable one given the manner in which the hosts seized control for the final 20 minutes although Castleknock, without 10 regular panellists, will rue a sloppy start to the second half when they failed to translate their dominance on to the scoreboard.
It was the visitors who made the brighter start and Corcoran put the finishing touches to a fine team move when fisting over the crossbar for the opening score in the third minute.
From the resultant kick-out, Evin Kennedy made a glorious fetch and his vision picked out the in-rushing Kevin Kindlon, who calmly slotted the ball beyond Collie Leane from eight metres to push Castleknock four points clear.
O'Donoghue settled 'Boden somewhat through a sixth-minute free, but their opponents were far sharper and Des Carlos restored their advantage two minutes later.
With wing-backs Niall Clarke and Fergal Haran to the fore, St Enda's began to show their true form, kicking three points on the bounce with Carl Molony accounting for two of those before setting up Justin Owens for a facile score following a quick free.
The visitors were struggling to find their inside-forwards, although Martin Brady landed a tidy point in the 20th minute in response to an excellent score from Sam Molony.
The hosts got to within a point with Owens tapping over after Cian O'Hara had made a brave block from O'Donoghue and Gavin O'Gara's monstrous effort ensured that momentum was maintained by Boden. However, a nasty collision between O'Gara and team-mate Shane Hogan approaching the break had an unsettling effect on St Enda's, with Castleknock pushing three points clear by the interval through points by Corcoran and Kindlon.
Brady stretched his side's lead within 20 seconds of the restart, but despite dominating affairs through the efforts of Conor Prunty, Jamie Tunney and Stephen Lynch, the visitors undermined that supremacy with some sloppy attacking play.
With the half punctuated by lengthy stoppages, there was little flow to the contest, but Boden battled on as Carl Molony made light of an acute angle to narrow his side's deficit to just three points by the end of the third quarter.
Those arrears were eroded fully in the 47th minute as Owens made a surging break through the Castleknock defence before finding Carl Molony, who produced a sublime shot from 14 yards that fizzed in off the underside of the bar.
A superb Carlos free in the 52nd minute briefly restored Knock's lead, but 'Boden looked stronger by the final exchanges with the 10 minutes of injury-time producing a fitting conclusion to a tight affair.