Down by six at half-time, the Kerry side looked all but out of it, unable to deal with the influence of Upperchurch-Drombane midfielder Paul Shanahan and the fluency of Andy Kinane, Colm Stapleton and Pat Shortt up front.
But the motivational words of manager Maurice Fitzgerald and his lieutenants worked a treat as they proceeded to outscore the Tipp champions by 2-7 to 0-2 in the second half.
Those goals followed an early Bryan Sheehan free, for a foul on himself, and came in the 35th minute via a well-placed low shot by Aidan Walsh after a quickfire passing move with Paul O’Donoghue, and then a fisted effort into the net by Daniel Daly to put St Mary’s ahead for the first time.
Anthony Cournane added a fine point, side-footing it over the bar after taking a pass from Walsh, and after Paul Shanahan knocked over his fourth from play for Upperchurch-Drombane, Mary’s proceeded to dominate the remainder of the tie.
They hit five points without reply between the 40th and 54th minutes before a lone Upperchurch effort from a Colm Stapleton free.
It was an outcome which looked unlikely during the first half, with Shanahan superb while Stapleton readily punished any fouls committed by the Kerry men.
Andy Kinane too, playing on the half-forward line, was proving a handful while James Barry made his presence felt when he provided a pass for Pat Shortt who blasted to the net after neatly sidestepping Mary’s goalkeeper Austin Constable to put Upperchurch-Drombane 1-8 to 0-5 in front at the interval.
The much-decorated Bryan Sheehan in midfield came more into the game as it wore on and that helped as St Mary’s took control and set up a fixture with Corofin.
D Daly 1-3 (1F), A Walsh 1-1, N O’Driscoll 0-3, B Sheehan 0-3F, D Daly 0-1, A Counane 0-1
P Shanahan 0-4, C Stapleton 0-4F, P Shortt 1-0, A Kinane 0-2.
A Constable, P Cournane, B Curran, C O’Shea, C Quirke, D Daly, D O’Sullivan, B Sheehan, L Sheehan, N O’Driscoll, P O’Donoghue, A Walsh, S Cournane, D Daly, A Cournane.
D Casey for L Sheehan (40m), A Hutchinson for P Cournane (47m), L O’Connell for A Walsh (54m).
L Ryan, C Ryan, M Ryan, P Stapleton, G Ryan, A Kinane, J Ryan, P Shanahan, M Ryan, C Stapleton, P Ryan, G Grant, J Barry, P Shortt, E Shortt.
TJ Butler for J Ryan (42m), D Grant for C Ryan (56m), M Greene for P Ryan (59m).
Richard Moloney (Limerick).