UCC were left hanging on at the finish as their six-point lead with eight minutes left was ultimately whittled down to two, but they deserved their success here.
Both teams were affected by crucial personnel changes from the drawn match with UCC able to welcome back Waterford senior duo Darragh Fives and Philip Mahony into their line-up. In contrast Carbery were hit by injuries to Ger O’Driscoll and Eoin Kelly while Cork U21 football commitments ruled out Jamie Wall and Mark Sugrue.
UCC made the early running with both Seamus Harnedy and Jack Ahern causing problems early on for the Carbery rearguard as they enjoyed a 0-5 to 0-2 lead after 12 minutes. However Carbery received a massive boost in the 16th minute when Danny Twomey bundled the rebound to the net after Ronan Crowley’s initial shot was blocked.
UCC’s response was clinical with Harnedy showing a terrific turn of pace before rattling the net with a fierce drive. With William Egan in outstanding form in defence, UCC continued to dominate but they were rocked by another Carbery goal before the interval. A long ball forward by Jason Hickey evaded the rearguard and the alert Mikey Bradfield stole in to flick home his side’s second goal and leave them just 1-7 to 2-3 adrift at the break.
UCC emerged for the second half in strong fashion as they atoned for the poor shooting they had displayed in the first half. Dan McCormack was in fantastic form at centre-forward and while his goalbound effort in the 41st minute went just wide, he did strike some classy points. When Ahern raised a white flag in the 52nd minute, they were 1-13 to 2-4 ahead and cruising.
However Carbery mounted a powerful late charge. Ross Cashman blasted a penalty to the net and with Donough Lucey and Conor O’Driscoll driving their challenge on from the back, they placed the UCC defence under huge pressure. Yet the students held on to take the honours at the finish.
Scorers for UCC: J Ahern 0-5 (0-3f), S Harnedy 1-2, D McCormack 0-4, W Griffin, W Egan (0-1f), A O’Sullivan, A Breen 0-1 each.
Scorers for Carbery: R Cashman (1-0 pen, 0-1f), D Twomey 1-1 each, M Bradfield 1-0, J Hickey 0-2, D Lucey, R Crowley (0-1f), C O’Driscoll 0-1 each.
UCC: P O’Brien (St Ita’s, Cork); K Ryan (Ruan, Clare), J O’Callaghan (Inniscarra, Cork), T Curran (Ballinameela, Waterford); P Prendergast (Lismore, Waterford), D Fives (Tourin, Waterford), W Egan (Kilbrin, Cork); A O’Sullivan (Castlelyons, Cork), P Mahony (Ballygunner, Waterford); M Howard (Passage, Cork), D McCormack (Borrisoleigh, Tipperary), M Grace (Mooncoin, Kilkenny); J Ahern (Killeedy, Limerick), S Harnedy (St Ita’s, Cork), W Griffin (Adare, Limerick).
Subs: A Breen (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick) for Griffin (21), B Bergin (Clonakenny, Tipperary) for Breen (50), S Keane (Whitechurch, Cork) for Howard (59).
CARBERY: J McSweeney (Bandon); C O’Driscoll (St Oliver Plunkett’s), J O’Donovan (Bandon), P Crowley (Bandon); D Lucey (Bandon), R Cashman (Kilbrittain), D Hickey (Kilbrittain); D Sweetnam (Dohenys), M Sexton (Kilbrittain); J Hickey (Bandon), F Keane (Newcestown), D Crowley (Bandon); M Bradfield (Newcestown), D Twomey (Newcestown), R Crowley (Bandon).
Subs: P O’Sullivan (St James) for Bradfield (55).
Referee: D Kirwan (Éire Óg).