UL dealt with all a star-studded DIT outfit could muster and then pounced in the 51st minute as Brian Fox scored a goal that was worthy of winning this thrilling encounter.
From the start it was apparent that this would be a high quality game as a highly regarded DIT side featuring the promising Bernard Allen settled, quickly kicking four sweet points during a purposeful 10 minute spell.
UL recovered admirably with David Niblock influential at midfield, while David Moran revelled in his role at full-forward.
Having suffered early on, UL gradually came into the reckoning with Moran sharp from frees. The Kerryman also rifled over a splendid sideline kick that brought the underdogs level in the 14th minute.
DIT went on another scoring burst as Cathal McHugh, Diarmuid Connolly and Gearoid McKiernan all found the range.
Throughout the hour UL demonstrated the pluck and perseverance that is needed to compete at this level and they equalised in the 21st minute.
A penalty was awarded when Niblock was fouled in the square by Donncha Reilly and inevitably Moran’s finish was precise.
Allen, menacing in the corner for DIT, stroked over a delightful point as the favourites went in 0-8 to 1-4 ahead at the end of a lively opening period.
It was similarly interesting after the restart, though, as UL continued to cause problems for DIT, who were frustrated by Niblock’s midfield promptings.
The teams were level nearing the end of the third quarter when Allen struck two immaculate points in quick succession and suddenly it appeared as if DIT were going to shrug off UL’s challenge.
Declan O’Keefe’s charges, though, had other ideas and they were efficient as Moran kicked a free before Brian Fox restored parity again.
Then UL hit the front for the first time in the 51st minute as a crisp Moran pass crafted a goalscoring chance for the pacy Fox, who lobbed the advancing David Lyons.
UL had the lead and they never looked like relinquishing it ensuring manager O’Keefe cut a satisfied figure after the battle.
“There was great character shown all through and I don’t want to take all the credit. I am a great believer in thinking on your feet out on the pitch and I had faith in those young lads.
” I don’t go to any game expecting to lose and the fact that they won the League final against UCC and the manner of their win probably helped us as well. We were lying in the long grass.”
“They had stars, but the fundamentals of football never change. You have to win the ball, you have to show heart and desire and you have to be able to kick scores and we did that today.
“This is a win that nobody else saw coming, but I knew leaving my house in the morning that we had the stuff to do it and the boys applied themselves so well to the cause”.
Scorers for UL: D Moran 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-4f, 0-1 sideline); B Fox 1-1; D Niblock, M Geaney 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dublin IT: D Connolly 0-6 (0-6f); B Allen 0-4; C McHugh 0-2; G McKiernan 0-1.
UL: B Scanlon (Limerick); F Fitzgerald (Kerry), M Dalton (Westmeath), J Lyne (Kerry); D Rhattigan (Galway), N Coyne (Galway), S Hickey (Limerick); A Maher (Kerry), D Niblock (Cork); A O’Donavan (Kerry), P Austin (Tipperary), B Fox (Tipperary); C Dempsey (Mayo), D Moran (Kerry), M Cahalane (Cork). Subs: M Geaney (Kerry) for Cahalane (31), D O’Sullivan (Kerry) for Dalton (40), M Culloty (Kerry) for Fitzgerald (54).
DUBLIN IT: D Lyons (Meath); C Walsh (Monaghan), D Hughes (Monaghan), P Cunningham (Dublin); G Bradshaw (Galway), P Domican (Roscommon), K McLoughlin (Mayo); D Reilly (Dublin), G McKiernan (Cavan); G Guilfoyle (Offaly), A O’Shea (Mayo), A Nestor (Meath); B Allen (Offaly), D Connolly (Dublin), C McHugh (Roscommon). Subs: C Reddin (Dublin) for D Reilly (31), M Reilly (Cavan) for Nestor (40), C Lynam (Westmeath) for McHugh (45), K Martin (Westmeath) for Bradshaw (45), T Cunniffe (Mayo) for Guilfoyle (60).
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down).