The East Cork side, prior to yesterday evening’s win, had failed to emerge from the divisions/colleges section since 2009 and manager Fergal Condon marvelled in a rare victory over a talent-laden UCC outfit.
Cork senior Cormac Murphy, Kilkenny’s John Power and Waterford pair Tom Devine and DJ Foran gave a formidable look to this UCC team, but it was the lesser-known lights from Imokilly who shone brightest; Willie Leahy and Cork minor pair Billy Dunne and John Looney impressing most.
Paudie O’Sullivan, along with the aforementioned trio, contributed 0-16 of their 0-20 tally and Condon paid tribute to the unstinting work-rate of his forward unit who were without talisman Seamus Harnedy.
“We feel tonight’s win is a scalp based on the fact that UCC have so many good players, and our fellas really stuck in,” said the winning manager.
“I’ve been going on about Willie [Leahy] for a long time. He is a very good player. John Looney is very skilful and then in the other corner you have Billy Dunne, two Cork minors, two young lads who are very willing to learn.
“Paudie is trying to train the two of them and they are collectively working hard.”
Imokilly enjoyed a three-point advantage returning to the dressing-room at the break, Paudie O’Sullivan’s accuracy from the placed ball proving the difference.
The Cork senior finished the half with five points, four from frees, with Leahy (0-3) and Looney (0-2) also catching the eye.
The divisional outfit were successful in holding down the UCC danger men; John Power, DJ Foran and Tom Devine exerting no great influence.
Aaron Stafford, Looney, O’Sullivan and Leahy moved Imokilly into an early lead and although DJ Foran and a string of fine scores from centre-forward Barry Lawton edged the Western Road nursery 0-5 to 0-4 ahead after 12 minutes, it was the sole occasion they would hold the inside lane over the 60 minutes.
Lawton, who finished the half with five white flags, kept the UCC account ticking over, but it was the over-reliance on the Castlemartyr centre-forward that, ultimately, proved their undoing. Lawton and Ballinahassig’s Michael Collins provided the bulk of UCC’s second-half tally and they failed to regain parity at any stage coming down the home stretch, despite twice reducing the deficit to the minimum.
Two massive frees from goalkeeper Declan Dalton, a Paudie O’Sullivan sideline cut and a fine effort from sub Dillon Cahill in the final quarter ensured Imokilly’s progress.
P O’Sullivan (0-7, 0-5 frees, 0-1 sc); W Leahy (0-5); J Looney, D Dalton (0-2 frees), B Dunne (0-2 each); A Stafford, D Cahill (0-1 each).
Barry Lawton (0-9, 0-6 frees); M Collins (0-4); T Devine, DJ Foran, K Morrison, P Curran (0-1 each).
D Dalton (Fr O’Neill’s); B Ó Tuama (Castlemartyr), C Barry (Castlelyons), T Carroll (Castlelyons); C O’Brien (St Ita’s), T Geaney (Carrig Na bhfear), M O’Keeffe (Fr O’Neill’s); Brian Lawton (Castlemartyr), A O’Sullivan (Castlelyons); J Looney (Aghada), W Leahy (Aghada), A Stafford (Aghada); B Dunne (Fr O’Neill’s), P O’Sullivan (Cloyne), C Spriggs (Cobh).
D Cahill (Cloyne) for Spriggs (36 mins), P McMahon (Fr O’Neill’s) for Stafford (48).
J Barry (Castlelyons); S Hegarty (Dungourney), S Roche (Shamrocks, Waterford), G Murphy (Newcestown); M O’Brien (Ferrybank, Waterford), P Prendergast (Lismore, Waterford), C Murphy (Mallow); T Devine (Modeligo, Waterford), K Morrison (Fermoy); Barry Lawton (Castlemartyr), J Power (Carrickshock), M Collins (Ballinhassig); D Geary (Fermoy), DJ Foran (Portlaw, Waterford), J O’Sullivan (Ballygiblin).
B Phelan (Ballinameela) for Geary (HT), P Curran (Dungarvan) for O’Sullivan (40 mins).
B Coniry (Crosshaven).