It was a victory that didn't look likely at half-time, when the Dublin students could only manage a 0-5 to 0-2 lead after playing with a very strong wind, but they produced a marvellous second half to set up an intriguing final against Queens at Parnell Park tonight.
"I'm elated at the victory," said coach Niall Moyna. "We've been trying to establish Gaelic games in the college and this win will do wonders. This is the 25the anniversary of the university and it's fantastic to be contesting the Sigerson final for the first time.
"We played the better football overall and there can be no dispute about the result. It wasn't looking too good for us at half time but the lads played some great possession football playing into the wind. When we play the short passing game few teams will beat us. We have 15 very good players who are very comfortable on the ball. But we have nothing won yet. There is still another big game ahead of us.
"Queens sent us packing last year and the final is an opportunity for us to redress that. It's going to be another mammoth task for us but we are more than capable of winning."
DCU had many stars but none shone brighter than the towering Owen Lennon at midfield. The Monaghan player found it difficult in the opening half against Michael Cussen but thundered into the game on the changeover, when he had a hand in most of his side's scores.
Not far behind him were Johnson and Conor Mortimer, who tormented the UCC defence, while Declan Lally and Brian Cullen were excellent in defence.
UCC were a big disappointment. They defended well in the first half against the wind and must have been confident turning over just three points adrift. However, their forwards, in particular Fintan Gould, John Hayes and Donncha Walsh, never threatened the DCU goal, despite applying enormous pressure in the closing stages.
Defensively UCC were excellent, with Donal Og O'Donovan, Rory McCarthy and captain John Whycherley seldom beaten.
Given the strength of the wind, it appeared DCU needed at least a six-point half-time lead if they were to have any chance of winning, and their 0-5 to 0-2 lead didn't look good enough.
However, there was a huge improvement in their play on the changeover, with Owen Lennon in particular giving them control at midfield. When Mortimer and Johnson stretched their lead with a point apiece inside five minutes of the second half UCC looked in real trouble.
DCU's possession game had UCC on the back foot for long periods and it took the visitors 17 minutes to register their next score.
For all their territorial advantage, however, the home side were only four points to the good with seven minutes to go, and when Donncha Walsh and Ronan Hussey kicked a point apiece in quick success, the game was there for the taking.
UCC laid siege to the DCU goal in the closing minutes and Liam Ó Lionain's fisted effort for a goal was deflected out for a fruitless 45.
It was backs-to-the-wall for the home side as UCC mounted one final attack but their only reward was a Fintan Gould point from a close-in free as DCU hung on for a deserved victory.
Sadly, some of the gloss was taken off their victory by the treatment meted out to UCC manager Des Cullinane, who was verbally abused by players and officials when he went to the DCU dressing room to congratulate them.
: DCU: S. Johnson 0-4; C. Mortimer 0-2 (0-1 free); B. Brogan, S. Smith 0-1 each. UCC: R. Hussey 0-2; C. Brosnan, D. Walsh, M. Cussen, F. Gould (free) 0-1 each.
: S. Cluxton; B. O'Reilly, K. Reilly, P. Casey; D. Lally, B. Cullen, G. Mullins; O. Lennon, R. McConnell; B. Brogan, B. Egan, R. Flanagan; C. Mortimer, S. Smith, S. Johnson. Substitutes: M. Moffett for Smith; N. Cooper for K. Reilly; K. Hanratty for Brogan.
: K. O'Halloran; D. Og O'Donovan, M. Shields, N. Horgan; R. McCarthy, D. Limrick, J. Whycherley; P. Kelly, M. Cussen; F. Gould, C. Brosnan, P. O'Connor; R. Hussey, D. Walsh, J. Hayes. Subs: L. O Lionain for O'Connor; B. Mulvihill for Hayes.
: D. Coldrick (Meath).