Promoted two years ago, after 70 years in the lower ranks, Knockainey, inspired by county players Pat Kirby and Eugene Mulcahy, got the perfect start with a 10th minute goal from Donncha O'Brien, both sides having earlier shared eight wides.
However, more seasoned Bruree took up the running and points from Pat Lane, John O'Brien, JV O'Brien and Stephen O'Halloran had them ahead.
The half was drawing to a close when Pat Kirby had Knockainey's first point, followed by another from Donncha O'Brien, and it was left to JV O'Brien to put Bruree in front 0-7 to 1-2 at the break.
With 12 first half wides, Bruree clearly needed to sharpen up. Knockainey kept hanging in there in the third quarter and were still just two in arrears coming into the final furlong.
The tide turned in their favour for only the second time when Brian O'Shea beat keeper Declan Sexton, and Pat Kirby gave them more breathing space.
Ken Madden opened a three points lead at the end of normal time, but they had to sweat it out as Steve McDonogh strode up to take a 21 yards free.
He sliced his shot and it went over the crossbar. There was still time for McDonogh to rally his troops with another point, but Knockainey, coached by former Waterford player Sean Prendergast, stood firm.
Scorers for Knockainey: P. Kirby 0-5, B. O'Shea, D. O'Brien 1-1 each, M. Ryan 0-2, K. Madden 0-1.
Bruree: John O'Brien 0-4, P. Lane 0-3, E. Morrissey, S. McDonogh, JV O'Brien 0-2 each, S.O'Halloran, C.O'Brien 0-1 each.
KNOCKAINEY: K. Madden; J. Leo, W. O'Brien, T. Mitchell, E. Mulcahy, A. Kirby, M. Bagnell; P. O'Connell, P. McNamara; P. Madden, D.O'Brien, B.O'Shea, M. Ryan, P. Kirby, D. Madden. Subs: K. Meade for O'Connell, M. Burke for D. Madden.
BRUREE: D. Sexton; C. Sexton, P. Sexton, J. Frawley, S. McDonogh, S. O'Halloran, JP Murphy; E. Morrissey, JV O'Brien; S. O'Connell, J. O'Brien, D. Hogan, C. O'Brien, D. O'Keeffe, P. Lane.
Referee; J. O'Mahony (Kildimo).
TOM CARMODY provided a winning start to the championship for Croom with a 56th minute goal in a lively encounter at Kilmallock.
Garryspillane, without the injured Frankie Carroll, were marginally the better side in the opening half and with Donie Ryan in scoring form, led 0-6 to 0-5 at the break against a Croom side once again minus the services of the injured Stephen Lucey.
The game sparked to life immediately on the changeover when Pat Tobin beat Croom keeper John Cahill with a snap shot, and Colm Hickey added a point to leave it 1-6 to 0-6.
Croom kept snapping away with Peter Lawlor and Jim Quirke edging them that bit closer. Padraig Hyland and Hickey provided further comfort for Garryspillane but they had it all to do again after Marcus Cregan broke through in 52 minutes to level at 1-10 each.
Both defences tightened up but Carmody did manage to find a way through in 57 minutes to give Croom the initiative, and they stayed there to the finish.
Scorers for Croom: M. Cregan 1-3, T. Carmody 1-2, M. Riordan, P. Lawlor 0-2 each. J. Quirke, P. Cahill 0-1.
Garryspillane: D. Ryan 0-4, P. Tobin 1-2, P. Hyland, C. Hickey 0-2 each, T.J. Ryan 0-1.
CROOM: J. Cahill; R. Kelly, L. Ryan, N. Cregan, P. Reidy, M. Riordan, N. Cahill; N. Riordan, P. Cahill; J. Quirke, P. Lawlor, T. Carmody, M. Cregan, P. Keyes, S. Moore.
GARRYSPILLANE: D. Hayes; J. Sheehan, D. Ryan, S. O'Donnell, S. McGrath, T.J. Ryan, P. O'Donnell; D.O'Dea, M. O'Brien; T. O'Donnell, D. Ryan, C. Hickey, P. Hyland, P. Tobin, J. Ryan.
Referee: D. O'Driscoll (Ballinacurra Gaels).