Fermoy, semi-finalists in the competition last year, trailed by 0-6 to 1-1 at half-time and were struggling in the middle third.
Midfielders Nollaig Ó Laoire and Gearóid Ó Goillidhe were performing effectively and Cill na Martra were relentless in their pursuit of scores.
Furthermore, Caoimhín Ó hUidhir was excellent from placed balls — he nailed four frees in total including three in the opening half — while the exciting Shane Ó Duinnín drilled over two excellent points.
However, five first-half wides were to prove costly for Cill na Martra.
Fermoy’s two first-half scores were registered within 90 seconds of each other as Ronan O’Callaghan’s goal, created by Pádraig de Róiste and Kieran Morrison, was followed by a fine Martin Brennan point. But they had to wait until the second minute of the second half for their next score as Ruairi O’Hagan registered the first of his three pointed frees.
It was the spark Fermoy required to ignite their challenge. They began forcing Cill na Martra into giving away a succession of frees which O’Hagan and Coleman generally punished.
Coleman stepped up to equalise six minutes into the second half, 1-3 to 0-6.
Yet, Antóin Ó Cuana restored Cill na Martra’s advantage courtesy of an inspiring left-footed shot. O’Hagan, though, curled over a free to level again for Fermoy on 42 minutes and from that stage they were never headed despite the efforts of Daniel Ó Duinnín, scorer of two frees to keep his side within touching distance.
Tomás Clancy fired in a sideline which bounced over Antóin Ó Conaill’s crossbar giving Fermoy the lead for only the second time.
And Coleman followed up with another free to push Fermoy 1-6 to 0-7 clear on 45 minutes.
It was the game-defining four-minute spell for Fermoy. Daniel Ó Duinnín bookended an O’Hagan free with those two of his own with left one point between the protagonists with four minutes of regulation time remaining, 1-7 to 0-9. Cill na Martra had to compete in the closing minutes without the talismanic Nollaig Ó Laoire as the ex-Cork defender was dismissed for a second bookable offence on 57 minutes.
A Coleman free increased Fermoy’s lead but Ó hUidhir reduced the deficit approaching additional-time. Nevertheless, Pádraig Clancy popped up to secure Fermoy’s victory.
R O’Callaghan 1-0, L Coleman (0-3 f), R O’Hagan (0-3 f) 0-3 each, M Brennan, T Clancy (0-1 s/l), P Clancy 0-1 each.
C Ó hUidhir 0-4 (0-4 f), S Ó Duinnín, D Ó Duinnín (0-2 f) 0-2 each, G Ó Goillidhe, A Ó Cuana 0-1 each.
L Coleman; J Pyne, J Day, A Baragry; P Clancy, T Clancy, P Murphy; R O’Callaghan, J Hutchings; S Ahearn, D O’Carroll, M Brennan; K Morrison, R O’Hagan (capt), P de Róiste.
K Dorgan for Ahearn (36).
A Ó Conaill; M Ó Goillidhe, C Ó Laoire, D Ó Conaill; T Ó Corcora, G Ó Mocháin, A Ó Cuana; N Ó Laoire (capt), G Ó Goillidhe; D MacLochlainn, C Ó hUidhir, M Ó Conchúir; D Ó Duinnín, C Ó Suilleabháín, S Ó Duinnín.
R Ó hUidhir for Ó Suilleabháín (45), D Óg Ó Laoire for G Ó Goillidhe (blood sub 60).
Mark Maher (St Finbarr’s).