The match had assumed the look of one that goals would have a big bearing on, long before the 46th minute when Naughton pounced.
His Newtownshandrum club-mate Jack Herlihy flighted in a long ball that Naughton rose to touch down, before whipping past Anthony Nash into the far corner of the UCC net.
It provided the finishing touch to a sublime third-quarter display from CIT that gave them enough of a scoring cushion to rely on during a rocky closing spell.
CIT have secured a coveted home quarter-final next Wednesday, most likely against UCD, while UCC will be on their travels to either NUI Galway or St Pat’s Drumcondra.
The game was defined by three phases. The first-half was largely evenly contested; the third quarter saw CIT become the proprietors, while the final quarter belonged to UCC as they executed a strong burst. At 0-8 to 0-6 in front at the midway mark, UCC were the more satisfied force.
Shane O’Neill anchored their challenge from full-back, Richie Foley and Kevin Hartnett gave them a grip in the half-back line and wing-forward Shane Burke made a real impression in tapping over points.
After 15 minutes UCC had built a 0-5 to 0-3 advantage yet they did not increase that margin before the interval. CIT’s midfielders Jack Herlihy and Adrian Mannix got through a pile of work, and also strode forward to aid attacks which assisted their team’s ability to keep in touch. A late first-half Ryan Clifford free pared the margin to one, but UCC’s Bill Beckett restored that two-point separation before the break.
If the opening 30 minutes had been characterised by the helter-skelter play and manic exchanges, CIT redefined the third quarter with more composed and methodical play. They got better contributions from key forwards Brian Corry and Naughton, while Clifford and substitute Padraig Goold were also effective.
They rattled off five points in a row after half-time before UCC’s John Mulhall eased the pressure on his side with a 42nd minute point. But that score only served as a brief interruption to CIT’s dominant flow. Indeed UCC were grateful for an outstanding double-save by Nash and another block from O’Neill that succeeded in keeping their rearguard intact. Yet when Naughton finally found the net for CIT, it was coupled with points from Gould and Clifford that put them steaming ahead at 1-14 to 0-9.
The match looked a done deal at that stage, but it swerved onto a different course for the final quarter. UCC roused themselves to construct a formidable response with the twin scoring force of Mulhall and Burke stepping up. Burke clipped over three from play, Mulhall fired three from frees and CIT’s only reply was a Corry effort.
Suddenly it was tight again entering injury-time at 1-15 to 0-15. But UCC could not create the goal opening they badly needed, and Corry added the insurance point for CIT in injury-time.
Scorers for CIT: R Clifford 0-5 (0-3f), C Naughton 1-1, A Mannix (0-2f), B Corry 0-3 each, J Herlihy 0-2, T Murphy, P Gould 0-1 each.
UCC: J Mulhall (0-3f, 0-1 sideline), S Burke 0-5 each, E Murphy 0-2 (0-2f), S Moylan, E Martin, B Beckett 0-1 each.
CIT: C Barry (Cork); J O’Callaghan (Cork), E Dillon (Cork), C Murphy (Cork); S McDonnell (Cork), R Cashman (Cork), C Leahy (Cork); J Herlihy (Cork), A Mannix (Cork); S Howley (Galway), B Corry (Cork), S White (Cork); C Naughton (Cork), T Murphy (Cork), R Clifford (Cork).
Subs: G O’Driscoll (Cork) for Leahy (24), P Gould (Cork) for Howley (half-time), M Bowles (Cork) for Cashman (48), E Cronin (Cork) for Mannix (55).
UCC: A Nash (Cork); T Geaney (Cork), S O’Neill (Cork), C O’Sullivan (Cork); M Cahill (Tipperary), R Foley (Waterford), K Hartnett (Cork); E Martin (Wexford) D Hanley (Limerick); S Burke (Tipperary), B Beckett (Kilkenny), J Mulhall (Kilkenny); S Moylan (Cork), E Murphy (Cork), P Barry (Cork).
Subs: S Cotter (Cork) for Martin (46), B O’Sullivan (Limerick) for Murphy (48), G Mulcahy (Limerick) for Barry (52).
Referee: David Copps (Limerick)