By limiting their defeat to a three point margin the hosts also managed to squeeze through to the quarter-finals at the expense of Waterford IT.
Both teams were tied on points and scoring difference, but UCD advance because they scored two more points than WIT managed in their two round-robin matches.
Those permutations were the source of much dispute and consternation after the final whistle, but what wasn’t up for debate was that LIT deserved to win this match.
They played a technically snappier brand of hurling for most of the tie, and when it looked like a wind-aided UCD might come from behind to snatch the win in the second half they dug deep to dredge up a late winning burst. Even without their injured stars Joe Canning and Seamus Callinan, who watched from the sideline, LIT looked like a better balanced team than UCD who were over-reliant on Tipperary’s Noel McGrath.
The sides were level 1-1 to 0-4 after 12 minutes, but thereafter LIT started to take a grip and outscored the hosts by seven points to three in the remainder of the first half.
Rather than strike hit-and-hope efforts into their forwards, they were finding their men with nicely angled deliveries and LIT corner-forwards Sean Tobin and Stephen Lambert in particular, made the most of such a supply.
When LIT tacked on two quick points after half-time to move into a 1-10 to 0-7 lead it looked like they might win this match comfortably, but then UCD came roaring back.
McGrath was the catalyst for everything good they did, punishing LIT indiscipline with accurate free-taking and chipping in with a converted sideline and a nice point from play too while Liam Rushe was giving them a great outlet at full-forward.
With just three minutes of normal time remaining a Rushe point brought UCD level and it seemed like they had all the momentum, but instead it was LIT who found the finishing burst.
A Bernard Gaffney free edged them ahead, and then two fine points in injury-time from impressive midfielder Paul Browne and lethal corner-forward Tobin made a hard-earned victory safe.
As round-robin Group A winners, LIT will now play NUIG in the quarter-finals, while UCD have a daunting task against a University of Limerick team dripping with inter-county talent.
Scorers for LIT: P O’Brien 1-1, B Gaffney 0-4 (3f), S Tobin, S Lambert (0-3) each, P Browne, S Collins, W Hyland, D Reale (0-1) each.
Scorers for UCD: N McGrath 0-10 (0-6f, 0-1 sideline, 1 ‘65), W Walsh 0-2, L Rushe, K Hogan, J O’Loughlin (0-1) each.
M Ryan (Tipp); E Glynn (Clare), C Cowan (Tipp), C Cooney (Clare); P Donnellan (Clare), J McInerney (Clare), J O’Keefe (Tipp); P Browne (Limerick), P O’Brien (Limerick); S Collins (Clare), W Hyland (Laois), D Reale (Limerick); S Lambert (Clare), B Gaffney (Clare), S Tobin (Limerick).
J Ryan (Galway); J Doyle (Wexford), S Cummins (Kilkenny), O Gough (Dublin); N Prendergast (Kilkenny), E O’Shea (Kilkenny), S Norton (Kilkenny); C MacGiolla-Bhride (Dublin), D Fox (Galway); J O’Loughlin (Laois), L Rushe (Dublin), D O’Connor (Dublin); N McGrath (Tipp), K Hogan (Kilkenny), W Walsh (Kilkenny).
Sub: C Allis (Limerick) for D O’Connor (41)
Referee: O Elliott