Get a few scores on the board, ease Cork panellists Cathal Vaughan and Donal Óg Hodnett into situations where they could test the UCC defence and force the hosts to chase the game rather than dictate matters. It was hardly a surprise therefore that it felt as if the contest was decided inside the 10th minute.
By that stage, UCC led 1-2 to no score and their dreams of reaching a fifth consecutive finals weekend on Billy Morgan’s watch close to being realised.
Michael Quinlivan’s fifth-minute goal set them on their way. Following good vision by centre-forward Alan Cronin, the Tipperary man did well to create an opening for himself and get his shot away, though CIT netminder David Hanrahan will feel he should have done better.
Conor Cox pointed a free immediately after and then midfielder David Nation added another point. CIT’s concern was such that Peter Daly was moved from centre-back to patrol full-forward Quinlivan, but unfortunately for them it was not a case of it being just one problem.
The UCC defence was not allowing much space when CIT did manage to make some headway and though Nation had to retire injured, sub Seán Kiely slotted in perfectly alongside Ian Maguire in the middle.
In the half-forward line, Luke Connolly was lively while Alan Cronin was simply outstanding. Used at corner-back for Cork against Kildare last week, he displayed his versatility by always being available to receive the ball and rarely, if ever, failed to deposit it in the hands of somebody else in red and black.
Though CIT had managed to get off the mark through a pair of Vaughan points, none of their forwards were able to gain any kind of traction and, turning with a 1-6 to 0-2 deficit, a statement was needed at the start of the second half.
By that stage, they had made three substitutes, but it was a trio of UCC points in quick succession, from Cox, Cronin and Connolly, which put 10 points between them, with all the indications being that that margin would only increase.
In fairness to CIT, that was not allowed to happen. Hodnett shook off a couple of jersey-tugs to weave his way through the defence and fire past Brian Kelly on 36, and but for a good Brian Shanahan block on Jerry O’Connor, they could have had another goal straight after.
That might have made things interesting, but UCC ensured they closed out the game in a controlled fashion. Paul Geaney was unlucky not to get a second goal, Hanrahan saving well, while Quinlivan remained heavily involved, finishing the game with 1-4.
Conor Dorman continued to impress as he drove forward from centre-back and in injury time Maguire capped a fine display with a fisted point when put through.
Not a perfect performance from UCC by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly a good enough base from which to build on ahead of next week’s trip to Belfast.
Scorers for UCC: M Quinlivan 1-4, C Cox 0-3 (all frees), P Geaney 0-2, D Nation, I Maguire, L Connolly, A Cronin 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork IT: D Óg Hodnett 1-1 (0-1f), C Vaughan 0-3 (0-2 frees), B O’Sullivan 0-1.
UCC (Cork unless stated): B Kelly (Kerry); D Culhane (Kerry), E O’Mahony, F McNamara (Kerry); E Healy, C Dorman, B Shanahan; D Nation, I Maguire; L Connolly, A Cronin, B O’Driscoll; C Cox (Kerry), M Quinlivan (Tipperary), P Geaney (Kerry).
Subs: S Kiely for Nation (13, injured), S Keane (Kerry) for O’Driscoll (49), G O’Sullivan (Kerry) for Cox (59).
CORK IT (Cork unless stated): D Hanrahan; E Byrne, B O’Regan, P Kilkenny (Kerry); Seán Finn, P Daly, J Collins; B O’Sullivan (Kerry), K O’Connor (Clare); J Walsh (Kerry), C Vaughan, D Treacy (Limerick); T Hegarty, S McCarthy, D Óg Hodnett.
Subs: J O’Connor for Treacy (30), J Corkery for McCarthy, J O’Donoghue for O’Regan (both half-time), S Cahill (Limerick) for Byrne (46), D Daly (Kerry) for Hegarty (50), C O’Sullivan for Corkery (57).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).