McGrath was at his inspirational best in the middle of the field and also contributed an impressive 11 points .
Waterford IT, backed by a stiffish breeze, had a flying start with quick fire points from play by Bernard Burke and Eoin Murphy, who ended the hour sharing the scoring honours with McGrath.
The game’s only goal, so decisive in the end, came just before the break and was finished with delightful opportunism by corner-forward Domhnaill Fox. That gave UCD a 1-7 to 0-8 interval lead and, with the advantage of the elements to come on the turnover, the Dublin students looked to be in the driving seat.
They were even more so when McGrath notched four points inside nine minutes to put UCD in an even more commanding position.
However, Dublin star Liam Rushe, on whom UCD placed such considerable reliance, was making little headway at full-forward, and it was WIT who thundered back into the game, with the outstanding Eoin Murphy at corner-forward proving to be their ace marksman with some quality scores.
Point by point the deficit was trimmed back by a determined WIT, and when they narrowed it to the minimum, 1-11 to 0-13, with eight minutes still remaining the prospect of extra time loomed large.
The UCD defence held firm, however, and, with McGrath continuing to mop up possession, they scored the final two points of the game to seal victory.
The first was rifled over superbly by substitute Kevin McLoughlin, which McGrath had set up for him, and finally and fittingly it was the Tipperary star himself who closed out the scoring in the 56th minute to round off his massive contribution to UCD’s victory.
WIT’s great run in the Fitzgibbon Cup in recent years will have left them hugely disappointed with their exit, but no blame can be attached to their stellar centre-back Enda Barrett, Noel Connors, Brian O’Meara, and scorer-in-chief Eoin Murphy.
Scorers for UCD: N McGrath (0-11, 0-5 frees, 0-2 65s’, 0-1 s/l); D Fox (1-0); J Gilligan, K O’Loughlin(0-1) each.
Scorers for WIT: E Murphy (0-11, 0-8 frees, 0-1 65‘); B Burke and B.
O’Meara (0-1) each.
UCD: J Ryan (Galway); D Nash (Clare), M O’Hanlon (Wexford), J Dougan (Dublin); O Gough (Dublin), C Allis (Limerick), S Norton (Kilkenny); J Gannon (Kilkenny), N McGrath (Tipperary); J Gilligan (Dublin), W Walsh (Kilkenny), G Synnott (Wexford); D Fox (Galway), L. Rushe (Dublin), D Plunkett (Dublin).
Sub: K O’Loughlin (Dublin) for Gilligan.
Waterford IT: A Power (Waterford); S O’Keeffe (Waterford), K Joyce (Kilkenny), N Connors (Waterford); C Hough (Tipperary), E Barrett (Clare), S Murphy (Wexford); J O’Dwyer (Tipperary), J Dowling (Kilkenny); B O’Meara (Tipperary), L Harney (Kilkenny), E Moore (Wexford); E Murphy (Kilkenny), J Dillon (Waterford) B Burke (Galway).
Subs: M Sheedy (Tipperary) for O’Dwyer; E Madigan (Waterford) for O’Keeffe(38).
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).