Ballymun Kickhams couldn’t quite live with holders Kilmacud Crokes in a tightly-matched contest on Saturday night at Parnell Park, as the holders got their Dublin Senior Football Championship campaign off to the perfect start.

Group 1 is one of the ones to watch in this year’s competition with Na Fianna and St Sylvester’s also in the mix and this game proved to be every bit as competitive as expected.

Kickhams had the better of the opening few minutes, but had only a Dean Rock point, won by bobbing and weaving until he found space amid the Crokes defence, to show for it.

His partner in the Dublin forward line Paul Mannion was equally prolific at the other end, slotting the leveler.

Seven minutes in, Philly McMahon conceded a penalty for a shove in the Crokes forward line, and Mannion’s casual slot into the bottom left of the goal put Crokes in charge, and led to a period of dominance in which Pat Burke should probably have hit a second goal, but dragged wide as Craig Dias pulled the strings for the southside club.

Kickhams recovery was solid, though, as they created some decent chances of their own.

Rock was doing much of the damage as the gap was cut to less than a goal at 1-4 to 0-5, with Crokes growing wide count limiting their effectiveness.

Ballymun, in the absence of Evan Comerford, struggled with kick outs, though, and Crokes went in 1-6 to 0-5 ahead.

Mun briefly closed the gap back to two points early in the second half, but Crokes quicky edged away again, and kept Kickhams at arms length without much in the way of game-altering moments in the third quarter of the contest.

Kickhams did pull back to within a single point midway through the first half, with Philly McMahon’s sharp run up top and finish.

They looked to be growing into the game with Ted Furman particularly effective as Rock was shifted back into the half forward line. The narrow gap was threatening to Crokes, but not enough to ever look like the champions had lost control.

The key moment, though, came with two minutes remaining, when late substitute Stephen Williams broke through the Ballymun defence.

His half-blocked shot crept over the goalline and put the game to bed, with Crokes final winning margin five points, 2-13 to 0-14.

With better point shooting, this could have been far more comfortable for Crokes.

As it is, it’s early season, there’s room for improvement, and both sides will take positives.

Crokes will be confident of progressing, while Ballymun now face two must-wins to emerge from the harshest of groups, and play Sylvester’s next.