The north Cork men bagged one of the two places on offer from the divisional and colleges section of the competition yet they required extra-time in order to claim the spoils here. CIT overcame a wretched start when they trailed 0-8 to 0-2 after 21 minutes of play to produce a fantastic second-half performance that saw them draw level.
Inspired by superb individual showings from Kerry U21 midfielder James Walsh and Cork U21 attacker Kevin Hallissey, the students pegged Avondhu back in normal time.
But in extra-time Avondhu rose to the challenge. Their greater physique and experience started to tell in crucial sectors, with the inter-county triumvirate of Ray Carey, Paul Flynn and Paudie Kissane anchoring the team splendidly in defence.
Up front Avondhu were bereft of the talents of Cork senior Colm O’Neill, who had been the shining light when they commenced this campaign against Beara. However, Mallow forward Cian O’Riordan took up the scoring mantle as he notched 0-7 with some classy efforts off his left in the opening half and a rousing kick with his right towards the end of extra-time that transpired to be a vital score.
Tom Monaghan was also influential on the scoreboard as he chipped in with 0-4 while Fionn O’Shea and Eamonn O’Connor were others to impact in the Avondhu line-up.
CIT contributed greatly to the contest. They were shorn of the services of Cork U21 pair Aidan Walsh and Peter Daly from the start, and then suffered a dreadful opening to the match. Avondhu poured forward at will and carved open the CIT rearguard to surge ahead. O’Riordan was particularly proficient in this period as he raised four white flags and CIT struggled to gain a foothold in the game.
However, credit must go to their management as they shuffled the cards at their disposal. The key positional switches saw Mark Griffin move to the half-back line, James Walsh come out to midfield, Ciaran Sheehan switch inside to centre-forward and Andrew O’Brien relocated to the edge of the square. Those alterations had an effect before the break as they kept Avondhu scoreless for the closing nine minutes of the half and claimed two important points themselves, courtesy of Hallissey and O’Brien.
Staring at a 0-8 to 0-4 deficit as they emerged for the second half was not as daunting a prospect for CIT. Their defence improved immeasurably, with Aidan Downes, Griffin and Damian O’Sullivan all in impressive form. That had the consequence of frustrating Avondhu but scores were difficult to come by at the other end for long stretches, and the advantage was still with the divisional team as they led 0-10 to 0-6 with 10 minutes left.
But CIT produced a powerful finale to cut their opponents’ lead. Walsh kick-started the revival with a pair of lovely points that sandwiched an Avondhu score by Tom Monaghan. Hallissey cut the gap to two with another impressive point, substitute Pa Joy crowned a brilliant run when he fisted over from a tight angle and then in the 61st minute Walsh tied the game with a wonderful score from the wing.
The initiative at that stage looked to be with CIT but Avondhu showed admirable composure in extra-time. They lead 0-15 to 0-12 at midway with O’Riordan beginning to sparkle once more and Monaghan looking dangerous when fed ball in attack.
In contrast CIT were reliant on Hallissey’s brilliance to keep them in contention at the other end and he lobbed over a 75th minute point that left them only 0-15 to 0-13 adrift.
But Avondhu closed out the game in style with O’Riordan and substitute Eoin Staunton grabbing scores.
Scorers for Avondhu: C O’Riordan 0-7 (2f); T Monaghan 0-4; P Flynn, P Kissane (1f), H Dockery, C O’Sullivan, E O’Connor, E Staunton 0-1.
Scorers for Cork IT: K Hallissey 0-6 (1f); J Walsh 0-4; A O’Brien 0-2; S Kelleher, P Joy 0-1 each.
AVONDHU: C Conway (Clyda Rovers); N Barry (Grange), R Carey (Clyda Rovers), R McEniry (Kildorrery); P Flynn (Ballyclough), P Kissane (Clyda Rovers), C O’Connell (Killavullen); H Dockery (Mallow), F O’Shea (Clyda Rovers); C O’Riordan (Mallow), D O’Mahony (Kilshannig), E O’Connor (Kildorrery); T Monaghan (Kildorrery), T O’Shea (Ballyclough), C O’Sullivan (Clyda Rovers).
Subs: S Fitzgerald (Kildorrery) for Dockery (44), E Staunton (Mallow) for O’Mahony (60).
CORK IT: B Walsh (St Oliver Plunkett’s); N Canty (Bantry Blues), A Downes (Na Fianna), M Griffin (St Michael’s-Foilmore); J Cronin (Lisgoold), D O’Sullivan (Spa), B McGuire (Listowel Emmetts); S Kelleher (Cill na Martra), A O’Brien (Kildorrery); C Sheehan (Éire Óg), W O’Mahony (Clann Na Gael), J Walsh (Knocknagoshel); S McCarthy (Naomh Aban), K Hallissey (Éire Óg), J Dineen (Éire Óg).
Subs: P Joy (Laune Rangers) for McCarthy (26), D Leahy (Arravale Rovers) for Dineen (39), C Kilcoyne (St Michael’s) for Cronin (42), P O’Connor (Cordal) for O’Mahony (48), A Sweeney (Listry) for O’Brien (52), Cronin for Downes (63), S Finn (Glanworth) for Kelleher (68), M Daly (Knocknagree) for O’Connor (74).
Referee: Ger Sweeney (Glenville).