The win was also a personal triumph for new manager, John Caulfield, and his management team of Noel Healy and Conor Uhl in their first season working with the Cork students.
Caulfield is no stranger to picking up major trophies, having captured two FAI Intermediate Cups with Munster Senior League side Avondale in recent times.
But this latest success for the legendary former Cork City man came the hard way, with a draining 20 minutes of extra-time needed to separate these two battling sides.
English-born striker Luke Burgess, who has represented the Republic of Ireland at under 15 and 16 levels and lives in Dingle, proved to be the Cork side’s hero, drilling home the vital score past James Keane midway into that extra-time period.
It left a devastated NUIG struggling to come to terms at narrowly losing out in the decider for the third year in succession.
Eoin Kilcommins worked hard to set up the goal with a run down the left and a neat pass inside to Shane Hegarty, who then saw his first effort blocked by Martin Conneely.
Hegarty quickly picked up the rebound and played the ball square to the waiting Burgess, who finished with style past the helpless Keane.
It wasn’t the first time in this intensive four successive days of football that Burgess had got UCC out of jail. In a tense quarter-final tie earlier in the week the youngster grabbed his first goal of the season, a late winner against DCU to take UCC into the last four.
UCC also have goalkeeper Kieran McEnery to thank for bringing off a top-class, point-blank save from Brian Conlon in the closing minutes to deny Galway.
UCC should really have wrapped up the game in normal time after both Burgess and Kilcommins spurned scoring chances. While the lively Josh O’Shea, later named Player of the Tournament, saw a couple of his efforts go wide of Keane’s post.
But Cork found it difficult against the towering Galway centre back partnership of Cian Fadden and Conneely who won everything in the air and Galway had their best chance early on when a long throw by Evan Preston-Kelly on the half hour mark led to the games first real opening. Terry O’Doherty controlled it well in the box but Mickey Creane then curled his effort the wrong side of McEnery’s post.
Second-half substitute Alex Lee did threaten for Galway but his finishing let him down on more that one occasion.
So Caulfield has worked his magic once again and taken a major cup to Leeside, while Galway boss Billy Clery will ponder on what he has to do to win a Collingwood Cup after three successive failures.
UCC: K McEnery, S O’Callaghan (K O’Shea 65), M McSweeney, C Forde, A Neville, R Waters, L Burgess, D O’Donovan (S Hegarty 65), R Holmes, J O’Shea, E Hegarty.
NUI GALWAY: J Keane, E Preston-Kelly, C Fadden, M Conneely, S Browne (P Scally h/t), T O’Doherty, J Keane (G Cheevers h/t), C McBrien, E Dunne, B Gaffney, M Creane (A Lee h/t).
Referee: R Glynn (Dublin).