The fixture was switched at the 11th hour from St Conleth’s Park and the heavy underfoot conditions brought about by the morning’s rain made it very difficult for attractive football.
The champions were made to work hard by a resolute St Mary’s. They clearly frustrated their illustrious opponents and though trailing by 0-4 to 0-2 at the interval, found their belief growing as the game progressed.
Matters improved further for the underdogs when Cork IT were reduced to 14 men. Cork attacker, Paul Kerrigan, was sent off in the 47th minute on a second yellow card for a careless tackle on Ciarán Campbell.
When Antrim’s CJ McCourt slotted a free a minute later, CIT led by just 0-7 to 0-5, and with St Mary’s launching attack after attack against 14-man opposition, a major shock looked on the cards.
The Leesiders were nowhere near their fluid best but those late four points dug them out of a hole.
All Star, Daniel Goulding, showed his class and leadership in that crucial period. First, he set up raiding corner-back Ross O’Dwyer, who cut inside from the right before finishing calmly with his left foot. Goulding added two points soon after, with the first a breathtaking effort from play, from outside the 45m line and near the right touchline. Those scores knocked the stuffing out of an industrious St Mary’s unit and Gary Sayers had the final say with a neat point.
CIT could have had the affair wrapped up by the break were it not for eight wides. Despite dominating possession, they had to rely on three Goulding frees and a brilliant score from another member of Cork’s All-Ireland final forward line, Colm O’Neill.
Kevin Niblock responded with two points from play for the Ulster men and it was still all to play for at the break.
Despite playing into the wind, it was St Mary’s who dominated the third quarter. McGourty and O’Neill exchanged scores but Martin Pollock reduced the deficit to one again.
Goulding converted a free from distance that was vehemently contested by the Belfast team’s management and a fisted point from the Éire Óg man increased the gap to three. Kerrigan’s dismissal and McGourty’s second free followed though and it was the turn of the CIT management to become agitated.
A couple of defensive switches seemed to work the oracle though as St Gall’s duo Niblock and McGourty were quietened, and a strong finish pulled them through.
CORK IT: L Sheehan (Kerry); N Galvin (Cork), R Carey (Cork), R O’Dwyer (Cork) 0-1; S O’Donoghue (Cork), A Walsh (Cork), C O’Driscoll (Cork); S O’Hare (Waterford), P O’Flynn (Cork); G Sayers (Kerry) 0-1, P Kerrigan (Cork), A O’Sullivan (Cork); D Goulding (Cork) 0-7(5fs), BJ Walsh (Kerry), C O’Neill (Cork) 0-2.
Subs: S McCarthy (Cork) for BJ Walsh (43); J Fitzpatrick (Cork) for McCarthy (53) St Mary’s: T Harney (Tyrone); M Slane (Tyrone); K O’Boyle (Antrim), M Digney (Down); C Campbell (Tyrone), B Canavan (Tyrone), B Óg Maguire (Fermanagh); J Kelly (Tyrone), M McKenna (Tyrone); M Murray (Tyrone), K Mossey (Tyrone), M Began (Armagh); P McAleer (Tyrone), K Niblock (Antrim) 0-2, M Pollock (Antrim) 0-1.
Sub: CJ McCourt (Antrim) 0-2(fs) for McAleer (25)
Referee: C Reilly (Meath)