In a lively encounter, GMIT provided a significant challenge for UCC, who demolished DCU at the Mardyke last week.
This was a far more exacting test for Paul O’Connor’s promising team, but they were crafty enough to deal with GMIT’s enthusiasm. Having played into the teeth of a huge wind, UCC trailed 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval and when Stephen Moylan bagged an opportunistic goal six minutes after the restart, it looked good for the visitors.
But GMIT were gritty and determined clawing their way back into the reckoning as Jimmy Gelston pointed a free before Conor O’Donnell poked a 41st minute goal.
Suddenly GMIT led by 1-8 to 1-5, but UCC demonstrated real character to claim the next three points as Dan McCormack registered from play either side of a Pauric Mahony free.
Gelston clipped a free to put GMIT ahead again, but UCC concluded the hour with a real flourish, scoring four of the last five points.
The influential Shane Bourke and Mahony were prominent when it really mattered, both firing critical points as UCC prevailed and O’Connor was encouraged.
“We are very happy,” he said. “We knew from last year in the quarter final when we played here that it was going to be very difficult. With the conditions it was always going to be a dogfight and it proved to be.
“We wouldn’t be the biggest team left in the competition, but we have guys that can motor and that can hurl. Iin the Fitzgibbon you have to play theopposition, but you also have to play the conditions and it was like that.
“Our priority every year is to get to the weekend. We are not there yet, but we have a home quarter-final which will help. We have next week off so we have a bit of time to work and to prepare, but we are looking at the runner’s-up of the WIT, CIT, and UCD group. They are three very, very good teams so the ball is in our court now, it is up to us to make it.”
GMIT manager Michael Geoghegan was disappointed his under-rated charges were unable to stage an upset despite a wholehearted display.
“We knew they had a decent squad with lots of inter-county talent, but we knew it would be a battle. We believed that because we had organisedourselves well that we could win, but we just came up that little bit short.”
Scorers for UCC: W Griffin 0-4 (3fs), S Moylan 1-0, S Bourke, P Mahony (3fs) 0-3 each, D McCormack 0-2.
GMIT: J Gelston 0-6 (5fs), C O’Donnell 1-1, A Lynch, N Mannion, W McNamara 0-1 each.
UCC: D McCarthy (Cork); S Maher (Tipperary), J O’Callaghan (Cork), K Murphy (Cork); J Barry (Tipperary), D Fives (Waterford), W Egan (Cork); S Corry (Cork), B Murray (Cork); S Bourke (Tipperary), D McCormack (Tipperary), P Mahony (Waterford); B Hartnett (Cork), S Moylan (Cork), W Griffin (Limerick).
Subs: E O’Sullivan (Cork) for Griffin (50).
GMIT: J Keane (Galway); G O’Halloran (Galway), D Maher (Tipperary), B Mulrooney (Offaly); C Forde (Galway), G Mahon (Galway), S Coughlan (Offaly); K Waters (Offaly), W McNamara (Limerick); J Gelston (Galway), A Lynch (Clare), C O’Donnell (Clare); J Liddy (Clare), C O’Brien (Galway), N Mannion (Galway).
Subs: C Cannon (Galway) for O’Brien (39), J Hanrahan (Galway) for Waters (52).
Referee: A Stapleton (Laois).