On the night Lehane was unplayable, the Midleton hit-man scoring points from all angles from play and frees and finding the home net with a well-taken 49th goal after he had ghosted inside the IT defence to crash the sliotar past a helpless Conor Clancy in the Carlow goal.
The opening half did not provide much indication it would eventually turn out in a clear-cut 13 point win for the Cork students. In the first minute UCC took the lead through a wonderful 80 metre point from their talented right half back and captain James Barry. The Upperchurch, Tipperary clubman added another wonderful long-range point from play later in the half.
Lehane went for a goal from an early close range free. The effort was blocked. Unfazed the UCC No 14 went out and put the resultant 65 straight between the posts. IT Carlow simply could not cope with the pace and accuracy of the Corkman who had 0-8 behind his name by half time.
The sides were level on nine occasions during an exciting opening half as IT Carlow gave as good as they got. The lead changed hands on a number of occasions before, in the five minutes before half time, the visitors stretched out from being tied at 0-9 each to lead 0-13 to 0-9 at half time.
Lehane pointed a UCC free within two minutes of the restart and then added another out of play before half time substitute Alan Cadogan marked his arrival with a point from play.
IT Carlow found themselves overwhelmed in that second-half. The Cork defence was superb, taking complete control while UCC players were picking out their men with great precision as their lead continued to grow.
Lehane’s goal put UCC 1-19 to 0-11 in front and from there to the end the visitors showed the depth of their hurling skill against an outclassed opposition. In all nine UCC players made the scoresheet, including midfielders Brian Murray, Daniel Roche and substitutes Alan Cadogan, Jack Ahern and Mark Sugrue while right full forward Willie Griffin was a constant thorn in the side of the home defence.
Clare’s All-Ireland hero Shane O’Donnell made a brief appearance for UCC in the game’s final minutes.
Richie Doyle, Barry Harding, Ian Byrne, Stephen Maher and Joe Brennan showed up best for a well beaten home side. They now will have to beat Waterford IT to advance to the knock-out stages.
The winners, who defeated Waterford IT 0-14 to 0-9 in their previous outing, look a very formidable side who will go hard for Fitzgibbon honours. Their teamwork, striking and accuracy were commendable all through – it was as close to a perfect display as this team will come.
Scorers for UCC: C Lehane 1-12 (0-5f, 0-1 65), J Barry, B Murray, D Roche, W Griffin 0-2 each, R O’Shea, A Cadogan, M Sugrue, J Ahern 0-1 each.
Scorers for IT Carlow: S Maher 0-7 (0-5f), J Brennan, C Kenny, I Byrne (0-1f) 0-2 each, D Dowling 0-1.
UCC: D McCarthy; S Maher, D Glynn, P Sullivan; J Barry, P Prendergast, C Murphy; B Murray, D Roche; B Lawton, D McCormack, R O’Shea; W Griffin, C Lehane, J Barron.
Subs: A Cadogan for Lawton (h/t); M Sugrue for McCormack (46); C Spillane for Prendergast; J Ahern for Griffin (53); S O’Donnell for Barry.
IT CARLOW: C Clancy; J Carroll, E Malone, B Harding; C Tobin, R Doyle, S Gardiner; G Brennan, T Carroll; S Maher I Byrne, K Kelly; J Brennan, C Kenny, D Dowling.
Subs: P McEvoy for Malone (injured) (35); M Sexton for Dowling (50); P Ryan for Kenny (56); C Wall for Kenny (56).
Referee: J Owens (Wexford).