Trailing 0-8 to 0-3 inside 13 minutes, the North Cork side managed to forge ahead, 0-15 to 0-13, by the 60-minute mark. A trio of UCC points gave the Students the upper hand once more but a Cathal Naughton individual goal proved crucial as Newtown would not trail again.
A last-eight tie with Na Piarsaigh or Bride Rovers beckons, and manager Liam Ryan hopes the great spirit shown can be carried forward.
“It’s great to be able to finish out a game,” he said. “When they got that last free, we were saying: ‘He [Robert O’Shea] has been putting these over all night long’.
“We needed that bit of luck, the lads are out on their feet, they fought hard, there’s a great spirit there. The only thing expected out of them is that they go out and give it 110%.
“You saw it at the end when we won, fellas coming in like the old days. We’re like any other village, we’re deep-spirited, we love our hurling and everyone gets behind you. It was very important for this group to get to the quarter-final. Last year, we won the first round and then got a trimming from Douglas in the fourth round, we didn’t want that to happen again.”
Aside from Naughton, Jamie Coughlan had a big impact in determining the outcome, scoring 12 points, while Ryan Clifford also popped up with some crucial scores. It was their taking over in the half-back line which stemmed UCC’s early dominance, when the College had threatened to run riot.
Five of their starting six forwards had got on the scoresheet inside six minutes as Newtown were left standing, but UCC couldn’t maintain such a hectic pace and gradually they were reeled in. The scoring of O’Shea and Willie Griffin helped UCC to hold off Newtown’s surge, however, and Séamus Harnedy’s third point of the evening gave the College an 0-11 to 0-10 half-time advantage.
In the first minute of the second half, Mark Sugrue had a chance to extend the lead further but William Biggane stood up well to his shot, and though O’Shea put two between the sides, Newtown had found their stride.
They scored five of the next six points, four from the stick of Coughlan, but UCC’s three on the trot threatened to swing the momentum once more.
That was when Naughton intervened, picking up possession 35 yards out and slaloming through the UCC challenges.
There were calls for over-carrying, but at the same time Newtown felt that Naughton was being fouled.
In any case it mattered little, as he fired home from a narrow angle to make it 1-15 to 0-16.
It remained tight, with Coughlan twice answering points from Griffin and Michael Collins before Colm Spillane and O’Shea tied matters once more with just three minutes on the clock.
Newtown were to prevail, though. Coughlan’s 12th point was quickly followed by a nice effort from sub Michael Thompson after Naughton picked him out.
A monster effort from UCC defender Michael Breen — his second — left just the minimum in it as injury time dawned. Breen had a long-ranger wide and there was one final chance, O’Shea with a free from his own 65.
It had the legs but was just off directionally, and the whistle straight after brought about euphoric Newtown scenes of celebration.
Scorers for Newtownshandrum: J Coughlan 0-12 (0-9 frees), R Clifford 0-3, C Naughton 1-0, J P King, G Lane, M Bowles, M Thompson 0-1 each.
Scorers for UCC: W Griffin 0-8 (six frees), R O’Shea 0-4 (three frees, one 65), S Harnedy 0-3, M Breen 0-2, C Spillane, M Collins, J Barron, A Spillane 0-1 each.
NEWTOWNSHANDRUM: W Biggane; G O’Mahony, R Fallon, D Gleeson; J Herlihy, C Twomey, M Ryan; PJ Copse, C Naughton; R Clifford, J Coughlan, G Lane; M Bowles, T O’Mahony, JP King.
Subs: M Thompson for Bowles (44).
UCC (Cork unless stated): PJ Hall (Limerick); M Breen (Tipperary), D Glynn (Kilkenny), S Maher (Tipperary); P Prendergast (Waterford), T de Búrca (Waterford), Cormac Murphy; R O’Shea, M Collins; C Spillane, J Barron (Waterford), M Sugrue; A Spillane, W Griffin (Limerick), S Harnedy.
Subs: Cathal Murphy for Sugrue (39), S Hegarty for Prendergast (51), J Ahern (Limerick) for Cathal Murphy (60).
Referee: D Kirwan (Éire Óg).