Only briefly trailing after Gary O’Driscoll’s 10th-minute goal gave Tralee a 1-1 to 0-2 lead, CIT rallied to lead by 0-9 to 1-4 at half-time and added 1-3 before the visitors opened their second-half account in the 55th minute, by which stage the outcome was well decided.
Inside forwards Donal Óg Hodnett and Hugh Curran were the scorers-in-chief for CIT, Cork U21 star Hodnett finishing with a haul of 1-6 while Curran had five points to his name, four in the first half.
Further out the field there were excellent performances too. Kerry senior panellist Brian McGuire was impeccable at left half-back, augmenting his display with a fine first-half point, centre-back Steve O’Donoghue was solid alongside him and at midfield Peter Daly made his presence felt too.
While Joe Scully impressed at centre-back and O’Driscoll had periods of dominance at midfield, in attack Tralee lacked a cutting edge, with Barry O’Hare their only player to score more than once.
Had they built on the O’Driscoll goal, when he rose to win an Alan O’Donoghue delivery before firing home, it might have been more of a game, but CIT responded with three points in-a-row.
Then, with the game poised at 0-6 to 1-3 and 10 minutes left to half-time, Curran hit two points and McGuire also raised a white flag, though Damien Kelly did pull one back to leave two in it.
After a Hodnett free and a point from Kevin Hallissey, CIT pulled seven clear as the same two players combined, Hodnett profiting from a Hallissey handpass to finish from close range.
Hallissey was denied a goal himself soon after that before O’Hare scored a second for Tralee when he converted the rebound after Rory Deane’s shot hit the crossbar. That cut the deficit to five but a comeback was never a real possibility.
Just to make sure, however, CIT closed out the game well, former Cork player Brian O’Regan involved from centre-forward. O’Donoghue, Hodnett and Curran all scored points and Jerry O’Connor rounded off the win when he hooked the loose ball in after Curran’s shot was saved.
Scorers for Cork IT: D Óg Hodnett 1-6 (0-3fs), H Curran 0-5, J O’Connor 1-0, S O’Donoghue, K Hallissey, B McGuire, P Daly, R O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Scorers for IT Tralee: B O’Hare 1-2 (1f), G O’Driscoll 1-0, B Poff, D Kelly, A O’Donoghue 0-1 each.
CORK IT (Cork unless stated): B Kelly (Kerry); N Galvin, M Griffin (Kerry), D O’Sullivan (Kerry); J Walsh (Kerry), S O’Donoghue, B McGuire (Kerry); P Daly, R O’Sullivan; J O’Connor, B O’Regan, D Leahy (Tipperary); K Hallissey, D Óg Hodnett, H Curran.
Subs: W O’Mahony for Leahy (57), J Dennis (Kerry) for R O’Sullivan (59), J Dineen for Hallissey (66), D Daly for O’Connor (68), J Cronin for D O’Sullivan (70).
IT TRALEE (Kerry unless stated): P O’Sullivan; E Murray (Meath), S Brosnan, D Larkin (Wexford); K Conway (Kildare), J Scully, AJ O’Connor (Cork); R Deane (Cork), G O’Driscoll; S Carroll, B O’Grady, M Brennan; A O’Donoghue, B O’Hare (Louth), B Poff.
Subs: D Kelly for Poff (26), É Flaherty for Conway (48), C O’Sullivan for Carroll (59), A Hegarty (Cork) for O’Driscoll (61), Poff for O’Donoghue (65).
Referee: R Moloney (Limerick).