With the sides level after UCC’s Tom Hickey and sub Brian Coughlan scored to tie matters, the Sigerson Cup champions pressed in search of a winner but looked like being frustrated in their efforts.
Hickey, scorer of five points, shot wide after good work by Coughlan, and then another chance looked to have gone astray when Éanna Ó Conchúir mishit a delivery towards the CIT goal. The ball was not dealt with by the defence, however, and fell invitingly for midfielder Keane, who fired past Stephen Nyhan from 10 yards to secure victory and a clash with Muskerry in the next round.
Given the way the game went early on — UCC scoring five points in the opening six minutes — it looked as if a repeat of the Sigerson Cup quarter-final between the sides was in the offing, even though both teams were much changed. CIT showed a spirited response, with Daniel Daly’s clever 44th-minute goal putting them ahead for the first time, 1-7 to 0-9.
With midfielder Brendan O’Sullivan, centre-forward Ciarán Keating and Killian McIntyre all impressing, they looked to have the initiative. UCC, with Coughlan showing up well after coming, rediscovered some of their earlier fluency though and ultimately got their reward.
UCC tore into the game from the off, eager to get revenge for last year’s defeat to the same opposition, the first time CIT had beaten them in the championship. Hickey was especially prominent, with centre-forward Kieran Murphy (Glenflesk) also making his influence felt, and soon they were 0-5 to no score ahead, CIT suffering further through the black card to Chris Davies.
While CIT eventually got off the mark through Daly, it did not signal a full-blown fightback, in the first half at least. Shane Power should probably have had a goal for UCC after good work by Hickey and Seán O’Connor but he blazed wide.
At the other end, CIT’s Conor O’Shea had an even better chance only for Seán Mellett to spread himself well and save with his leg.
By half-time, UCC still held a five-point advantage, 0-8 to 0-3, and but for Nyhan it might have been more, the keeper denying Hickey when a point might have been a better option.
The importance of that save was then magnified as CIT hit the ground running in the second half.
With UCC’s shooting inaccurate, CIT took full advantage and by the 42nd minute they had reduced the gap to just a point.
A good Hickey point, engineered by Ó Conchúir, had the hallmarks of stopping the rot for UCC, but then Daly struck. After a clever chipped through ball by CIT’s Kieran Murphy (Kilcummin), he judged the flight perfectly and was able to punch beyond Mellett.
John Corkery then made it a two-point game after good industry by O’Sullivan, but UCC were not gone. Hickey converted a free and then set up Ó Conchúir for a goal chance but his poked effort came back off the post.
Though Daly made it 0-10 to 1-9, Hickey responded with a free and then Coughlan looked to have set up extra-time.
Enter Keane, and his late intervention.
Scorers for UCC: T Hickey 0-5 (three frees), S Keane 1-0, K Murphy 0-3, S O’Connor, S Power (free), É Ó Conchúir (free), B Coughlan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork IT: D Daly 1-4 (two frees), C Keating 0-2, J Corkery 0-2, K McIntyre (free) 0-1.
UCC (Kerry unless stated): S Mellett (Cork); J McGuire, E O’Mahony (Cork), K Histon (Cork); M O’Connor, F McNamara, T Clancy; S Keane, A Murphy (Cork); S O’Connor (Cork), K Murphy, G O’Sullivan; T Hickey, S Power (Tipperary), É Ó Conchúir.
Subs: R Murphy for Power (37), R Cahalane (Cork) for R Murphy (39, black card).
CORK IT (Cork unless stated): S Nyhan; J Cronin, J O’Donoghue, C Davies (Kerry); S Finn, J Collins, C O’Sullivan; B O’Sullivan (Kerry), K Murphy (Kerry); K Kavanagh, C Keating (Kerry), K McIntyre; C O’Shea (Kerry), D Daly (Kerry), J Corkery.
Subs: S Fitzmaurice (Kerry) for Davies (7, black card), K O’Connor for Finn (22), D O’Connor for O’Shea (half-time), Finn for Cronin (48), M Heffernan for McIntyre (53, injured).
Referee: K Murphy (Nemo Rangers).