A landslide victory for UCC in the first round of the Sigerson Cup at the Mardyke last night.
The home side were virtually assured of their place in the quarter-final after just 15 minutes when they led 1-8 to nil.
And it is difficult to see what either side can take from this mismatch with a whopping 38 points separating the sides at full time.
The visitors will have to regroup and motivate themselves for a loser round game against Dublin IT.
UCC were superior in all sectors and found scores so easy to come by. Their awesome attack cut through the defence with ease blasting seven goals – three in the first half that saw them take a 3-16 to 1-1 lead at the change of ends.
Such was their strength in depth that they only introduced the likes of experienced players Brian Begley (just before half-time) and Conor Geaney and David Shaw at half-time, at which juncture they were well on their way to victory.
UCC go in search of a 22nd title this year (their most recent was in 2014).
They stood a class apart in this fixture and while Billy Morgan and his management team won’t be getting too carried away with this result, they have an abundance of talent which includes a strong sprinkling of inter-county players that all stood out.
Paudie Clifford – brother of David – scored a hat-trick.
Conor Horgan kicked the first two goals in the 11th and 22nd minute, while Gary Murphy and Conor Geaney rowed in with the other two majors.
Killian Spillane was also superb, he finished with five points, a couple angled over were from incredible angles.
UCC blitzed their opponents with seven unanswered points that got them up and running.
As well as Spillane, Cian Kiely, James McEntee, Eimhin Courtney and Murphy were on the scoresheet.
Horgan’s major put them 1-8 to nil ahead before a Gavan Horan point opened the scoring for Athlone IT.
Rian Brady – who was a key player in Mullinalaghta’s stunning Leinster senior club victory – nabbed a goal 10 minutes from the interval.
But UCC drove on again.
By half-time, they had added 2-6 without reply. That included Horgan’s second goal and one from Clifford four minutes before the break.
Coming towards the end of the third quarter, the floodgates opened once again as the Athlone IT rearguard was left exposed.
Padraic Lucey fed Murphy and his finish provided goal number four. Geaney then pounced for number five.
Prior to that the visitors pulled a goal back when Billy Berry scored after his penalty strike was saved by Eoghan O’Brien but he followed up on the rebound.
There was no easing on the throttle though with the sixth and seventh goals arriving in the closing 10 minutes as Clifford completed is hat-trick.
Scorers for UCC: P Clifford (3-1), G Murphy (1-4), C Horgan (2-1), K Spillane (0-5), C Geaney (1-1), E Courtney (0-4), S O’Shea (0-3, 0-1 free), C Kiely and D Shaw (0-2 each), J McEntee, G O’Sullivan and R Buckley (0-1 each).
Scorers for AIT: R Brady and B Berry (1-0 each), D McManus (0-2), G Horan (0-1).
UCC: E O’Brien (Kerry); L O’Donovan (Cork), K Flahive (Cork), G O’Sullivan (Kerry); J McEntee (Meath), D O’Brien (Kerry), C Kiely (Cork); J Kennedy (Tipperary), P Lucey (Kerry); C Horgan (Cork), S O’Shea (Kerry), P Clifford (Kerry); G Murphy (Cork), K Spillane (Kerry), E Courtney (Clare).
Subs: B Begley (Kerry) for D O’Brien (28 inj), M Flood (Kerry) for L O’Donovan (half-time), A Barry (Kerry) for J Kennedy (half-time), C Geaney (Kerry) for S O’Shea (half-time), D Shaw (Kerry) for K Spillane (half-time), R Buckley (Kerry) for C Horgan (38).
AIT: C Haslam (Galway); D Healy (Westmeath), D Carroll (Westmeath), E Tully (Roscommon); E O’Connor (Clare), D McManus (Roscommon), J Smith (Meath); K Maguire (Cavan), G Horan (Kerry); S Keogh (Cavan), R Brady (Longford), D Mullan (Roscommon); R Forde (Westmeath), B Berry (Westmeath), S Maher (Longford).
Subs: C McDonagh (Galway) for J Smith (20), C O’Dea (Mayo) for S Keogh (38), T Lennon (Westmeath) for D Mullen (50).
Referee: Richard Moloney (Limerick).