There was little between two well-matched teams and it looked like extra-time might be needed to decide the outcome. However, the home side hung on to claim the silverware and a welcome boost ahead of the Sigerson Cup.
Nine points from Sean O’Shea was the difference with the Kerry player proved invaluable from frees, including one superb effort from near the corner flag that edged them 0-11 to 0-9 ahead with five minutes remaining.
James Naughton got one back for UL right on the hour mark and the visitors pushed forward for the equaliser. However brilliant work from Sean Powter, helping out in his own half-back line, alleviated the danger. His delivery picked out substitute Cathal Bambury and the resultant free from O’Shea steadied the ship for UCC.
UL were the more competitive in the first-half moving 0-5 to 0-3 ahead on 23 minutes with Naughton (2), Keelan Sexton, Denis Daly and Conor Finucane on target. UCC got their noses in front for the closing stages kicking three unanswered points from O’Shea (2) and Cian Dorgan and the hosts led 0-6 to 0-5 at the break.
UCC maintained that narrow lead up to the three-quarter stage (0-9 to 0-8) and they were also grateful to influential goalkeeper Eoghan O’Brien. Despite both sides registering a succession of wides – UCC guiltier than UL - Naughton levelled from a placed ball entering the final 10 minutes. Sub Stephen Sherlock answered with a point on 54 minutes before O’Shea made it a two-point game. And while UL refused to give in, O’Shea’s late free ensured victory for UCC.
S O’Shea (0-9, 0-7 frees), J Foley, C Dorgan and S Sherlock (0-1 each).
J Naughton (0-5, 0-4 frees), K Sexton (0-3), D Daly and C Finucane (0-1 each).
E O’Brien (Kerry); F Clifford (Kerry), J Foley (Kerry), M McSweeney (Cork); K Crowley (Cork); S Cronin (Cork), C Kiely (Cork); P Lucey (Kerry), J Kennedy (Tipperary); S Powter (Cork), S O’Shea (Kerry), K Flahive (Cork); E Courtney (Clare), C Dorgan (Cork), K Spillane (Kerry).
S Sherlock (Cork) for E Courtney, A Barry (Kerry) for P Lucey, C Bambury (Kerry) for K Spillane.
B Redmond (Mayo); S Courtney (Kerry), D Quinn (Donegal), J Mason (Mayo); C O’Dea (Clare), B O’Keeffe (Kerry), P Lillis (Clare); G Hegarty (Limerick), F Ó Cuanaigh (Galway); J Naughton (Limerick), D Daly (Kerry), N Rabbitt (Longford); C Finucane (Clare), K Sexton (Clare), E O’Connor (Limerick).
F McDonagh (Mayo) for N Rabbitt, B Sweeney(Kerry) for E O’Connor, E Lawless (Kildare) for F McDonagh, N McDermott (Cavan) for C Finucane.
Seamus Mulvihill (Kerry).