Tom Kingston’s panel, as had been well documented in advance of this fixture, is awash with inter-county talent. It was simply a case of how he would line them out.
In all bar the full-back set, UCC had a regular inter-county starter in every line. There was Waterford’s Conor Gleeson and All-Star Mark Coleman at 6 and 7, Darragh Fitzgibbon at midfield, Michael Breen at centre-forward, and left corner-forward Shane Kingston. That’s not even mentioning Kilkenny’s John Power or Tom Devine of Waterford at left-half and full-forward, respectively.
The latter had to be withdrawn with what appeared to be a calf injury 18 minutes in. The options on the bench were endless. Management went with Robbie O’Flynn and the Cork senior panellist helped himself to 1-1, their top-scorer from play on this cold night.
At the time of Devine’s departing, UCC were 0-6 to 0-5 ahead. The opening quarter went tit for tat, CIT centre-forward Mikey Kearney responding to whatever the visitors conjured up. The Waterford man nailed their opening four scores and would double that tally over the course of the hour. He was guilty of some poor second-half wides but were it not for the ones he converted, this game as a contest would have been over from a very early juncture.
As it was, Jerry O’Neill and Kearney edged CIT in front. The hosts had opted to pull a member of their full-forward line out the field in a bid to cut down on the space available to UCC’s many marquee players and Frank Flannery’s charges certainly made life difficult for their opponents.
Five of the last six scores of the opening half, however, was struck by UCC students. Shane Forde, O’Flynn, Kingston (0-2, 0-1 free) and the hard-working Michael Breen propelling the University into a 0-11 to 0-8 interval lead.
Not put out by the flurry of scores conceded before Fergal Horan’s half-time whistle, CIT raised an early second-half gallop with goalkeeper Patrick Collins (free) and Kearney quickly cutting the deficit back to the minimum.
They were unable to maintain this tempo, however. The energy spent in attempting to live with UCC eventually took its toll and they would only score twice more in the closing 28 minutes. From the 42nd to the 63rd minute, they went scoreless.
A three-in-a-row burst from the winners established daylight and although Kearney pulled one back — 0-14 to 0-11 read the scoreboard — it was terribly one-sided thereafter.
Two Mark Coleman frees sandwiched a placed ball effort from Shane Kingston and UCC wrapped up the win when Robbie O’Flynn pounced on a Sean O’Donoghue delivery for the game’s sole green flag five minutes from the end.
Full-back David Griffin and Breen, the UCC captain clipping three points from centre-forward, swelled their lead to 10 come the final whistle.
UCC entertain UCD at the Mardyke next Wednesday. A win there for Tom Kingston’s charges would ensure a home quarter-final.
S Kingston (0-5, 0-3 frees); R O’Flynn (1-1); M Breen (0-3); M Coleman (0-2 frees), J Power (0-2 frees), R Cahalane (0-2 each); S Forde, T Devine, D Fitzgibbon D Griffin (0-1 each).
M Kearney (0-8, 0-5 frees); P Collins (0-2, 0-2 frees); E Heffernan, J O’Neill (0-1 each).
J Barry (Castlelyons); S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), D Griffin (Carrigaline), E Gunning (Na Piarsaigh); C O’Leary (Valley Rovers), C Gleeson (Fourmilewater), M Coleman (Blarney); R Cahalane (Ballymartle), D Fitzgibbon (Charleville); M O’Brien (Ferrybank), M Breen (Ballina), J Power (Carrickshock); S Forde (Na Piarsaigh), T Devine (Modeligo), S Kingston (Douglas).
R O’Flynn (Erin’s Own) for Devine (18 mins, inj); C Browne (James Stephens) for Forde (42); S Hayes (Mallow) for Kingston, G Linehan (Kilbrin) for O’Brien, N Cashman (Blackrock) for Cahalane (all 58).
P Collins (Ballinhassig); E Healy (Ballymartle), D Fanning (Pallasgreen), K Galvin (Clara); D Noonan (Glen Rovers), E Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore), C Prunty (Abbeyside-Ballinacourty); R Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore), K O’Neill (Watergrasshill); A Coffey (Nenagh Éire Óg), M Kearney (Ballyduff), J O’Neill (Courcey Rovers); T O’Connor (Inniscarra), J Looney (Aghada), C Hammersley (Clonoulty-Rossmore).
J Good (Tracton) for Coffey (HT); D Hartnett (Mountmellick) for Healy (40 mins); C Keane (St Finbarr’s) for O’Neill (46); M Ryan (Clonoulty-Rossmore) for Heffernan (50).
F Horgan (Tipperary).