On a heavy pitch, the reigning holders assured themselves of two Group A points as four unanswered points at the outset of the second half opened up an 0-11 to 0-6 lead. Though WIT, with Waterford’s Jake Dillon impressing and Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy reliable from frees, managed to get back to within a goal late on, UCC’s stout defending ensured that they wouldn’t be denied.
Cormac Murphy and Paudie Prendergast hurled well in the half-back line while Jamie Barron, withdrawn from corner-forward, provided a good outlet. In addition, Brian Murray got on a lot of ball at midfield and manager Eddie Enright was pleased at the outcome, even if the game was not the best.
“The pitch was poor and the game was poor,” he said, “there was only a point in it at half-time and we started well in the second half.
“It was a bit disjointed after that and maybe we lost our way a little bit, so we’ll have to work on that now, to be honest.
“We were getting caught in the first half, their half-forward line was getting a bit too much time on the ball but we counteracted that well for the most part.”
Four frees in the first 10 minutes from Conor Lehane — who was dealt with well by Pauric Gahan for the most part — had UCC off to a good start but Dillon inspired a WIT revival. His second point, after a nice catch from Joe O’Dywer’s pass, levelled the game at 0-6 each but the visitors could not forge ahead.
Brian Murray’s point just before half-time ensured they led at the interval, and though some wasted chances could have put them further ahead, they assembled a sizeable lead in the nascent stages of the second period.
Despite Thomas Hamill showing up well in the WIT defence, UCC’s smarter play, with Rob O’Shea showing nice touches, was yielding a better reward.
Cormac Murphy and Willie Griffin were also on target and in contrast WIT were failing to find the posts.
A couple of Eoin Murphy frees had them back in it, but UCC sub Alan Cadogan’s late point opened up a four-point gap.
Murphy went for a goal from a 20m free in injury time but his effort was deflected out for a 65 and then Lehane wrapped things up with the final puck to ensure UCC would prevail.
They take on IT Carlow next Thursday while WIT meet St Patrick’s/Mater Dei, needing a win to remain in contention for qualification for the quarter-finals.
Scorers for UCC: C Lehane 0-7 (six frees), B Murray 0-2, C Murphy, R O’Shea, W Griffin, J Barry (1s), A Cadogan 0-1 each.
Scorers for WIT: E Murphy 0-5 (frees), J Dillon 0-3, G O’Brien 0-1.
UCC (Cork unless stated): D McCarthy; S Maher (Tipperary), D Glynn (Kilkenny), P O’Sullivan; J Barry (Tipperary), P Prendergast (Waterford), C Murphy; B Murray, D Roche; B Lawton, D McCormack (Tipperary), R O’Shea; W Griffin (Limerick), C Lehane, J Barron (Waterford).
Subs: A Cadogan for Lawton (42), C Spillane for Griffin (53), T Butler (Tipperary) for McCormack (59).
WIT: S O’Keeffe (Waterford); G Teehan (Kilkenny), P Gahan (Kilkenny), J Maher (Tipperary); T Hamill (Tipperary), J O’Dwyer (Tipperary), S Murphy (Wexford); C Kenny (Kilkenny), S Roche (Waterford); P Mahony (Waterford), H Kehoe (Wexford), E Murphy (Kilkenny); L McGrath (Tipperary), J Dillon (Waterford), G O’Brien (Waterford).
Subs: J Langton (Kilkenny) for Kenny (39), J Hayes (Kilkenny) for Roche (42), M Power (Kilkenny) for S Murphy (55).
Referee: A Kelly (Galway).