The game had been held up for almost half an hour due to an injury to Cork IT corner forward Mikey Kearney, who landed heavily. An ambulance arrived but thankfully he was well enough to be stretchered off the field, but it appeared he was suffering from concussion.
UCC snatched this win from the jaws of defeat as Cork IT were well in control from the off. They hit three goals in the first quarter, and led by seven points at half-time, but they were eventually pegged back thanks in the main to UCC full-forward DJ Foran who bagged a hat-trick of goals in the second 30 minutes.
What started out as a one-sided affair produced a thrilling finish as Cork IT came close to forcing extra time but Robbie Hanley’s effort came back off the upright to safety.
UCC had many changes from their Fitzgibbon campaign and while they didn’t start Waterford’s Tadgh Burke or Jamie Barron, and Cork’s O’Shea — all three came into the fray midway through the second-half to aid the UCC fight back.
The opening half was all Cork IT as they enjoyed lots of freedom in front of the posts.
Kearney took their first goal clinically after running in along the end line with four minutes gone on the clock. Peter Kelleher, playing at the edge of the square, netted the first of his two majors four minutes later and when he linked up with Hanley soon afterwards, Cork IT were 3-3 to 0-3 to the good with only 10 minutes played.
Tom Devine (4) and David Geary (2) were the pick of the UCC scorers in the first half while corner forward Patrick Curran was on hand to punish any fouls.
By the half they had worked their way back into contention, but they still had much to do, trailing 0-11 to 3-9.
Foran, though, gave them the perfect restart, when immediately from the throw-in he had the sliotar in the back of the net. He then collected a huge free from Padraig Prendergast in the 36th minute and finished magnificently once more.
The scoreboard now read 2-12 to 3-10. Cork IT did regroup with four unanswered points from John Cashman, Noel McNamara, John Cronin and David Collins to push their side five points clear.
However, Foran’s third goal brought UCC to within two points and when Anthony Spillane added an excellent flag, the margin was down to one, 3-14 to 3-13 with nine minutes remaining.
It was at that point that Kearney got injured. Upon the resumption, UCC registered three points on the trot from influential subs Burke and O’Shea (2). Cronin pegged one back for Cork IT but following a remarkable turnaround, it is UCC who go into round two and a meeting with Imokilly.
DJ Foran (3-0), T Devine (0-4), P Curran (0-3, two frees), R O’Shea (one free) and D Geary (0-2 each), T Burke, A Spillane, B O’Sullivan, P Prendergast and J O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
P Kelleher (2-0), M Kearney (1-1), J Cashman (0-6, three frees), J Cronin (0-4), N McNamara (0-2), D Collins and R Hanley (0-1 each).
J Barry (Castlelyons); S Hegarty (Dungourney), S Roche (Shamrocks, Waterford), G Murphy (Newcestown); M O’Brien (Ferrybank), J Byrne (James Stephens), P Prendergast (Lismore); T Devine (Mondeligo), K Morrisson (Fermoy); DJ Foran (Portlaw), B O’Sullivan (Ballygunnar), J O’Sullivan (Ballygiblin); P Curran (Dungarvan), D Geary (Fermoy), A Spillane (Castlelyons).
C Spillane (Castlelyons) for S Roche (16 inj), R O’Shea (Carrigaline) for B O’Sullivan, J Barron (Fourmilewater) for J O’Sullivan (both 40), T Burke for K Morrisson (45).
G Minihane (Courcey Rovers); C Daly (Courcey Rovers), A Dennehy (Charleville), T Lawrence (Brian Dillons); A Coffey (Nenagh), S O’Donovan (Mayfield), C Hammersly (Clonoulty/Rossmore); D Collins (Abbeyside); M Russell (Aghada); J Cronin (Lisgoold), J Cashman (Lisgoold), N McNamara (Kilworth); M Kearney (Ballyduff upper), P Kelleher (Kilmichael), R Hanley (Kilmallock).
K O’Neill (Watergrasshill) for J Cashman (48), S O’Regan (Watergrasshill) for M Kearney (53 inj), D Brosnan (Brian Dillons) for D Collins (58).
Ken Healy (Ballymartle).