A two-goal salvo from Patrick Curtin proved decisive as new-look Kerry proved too strong for a battling UCC side in this quarter-final at Fitzgerald Stadium.
Kerry now face Limerick at home next Sunday in the semi-final.
UCC proved a far sterner test than the previous week's rout of IT Tralee and, in fact, UCC were quicker off the blocks and raced 0-3 to 0-0 clear inside the opening five minutes with points from Conor Cox, Gavin O'Grady ('45') and Brian Coughlan but, once Kerry got going, the result was always inevitable.
Four unanswered Kerry points from Darran O'Sullivan (free), Mikey Geaney, Curtin and Paul Geaney had Kerry 0-4 to 0-3 in front by the 13th minute and, with Kieran Donaghy proving that his marriage on Friday next has not unnerved him, Kerry began to win midfield.
Despite eight first-half wides, the contest was settled by Curtin who showed nice telepathy with Geaney in the inside line and Curtin netted in the 15th minute after a neat one-two with Geaney and then in the 26th minute when he collected from Kieran O'Leary and rifled the ball to the UCC net.
Kerry led 2-7 to 0-5 at the interval and the play deteriorated in the second half, as UCC got numbers behind the ball and Kerry's intensity dropped. It was Kerry U-21 star Conor Cox, playing with the students, who caught the eye, kicking four second-half points.
"Overall, it is mission accomplished," Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice said. "We have a game again next weekend. I felt that it was a kind of a flat performance.
"We did not start great as UCC were quick out of the blocks. Once we got a foothold in the game, we got on top around the middle, we got the couple of goals that gave us the platform to build on.
"We mixed the good with the bad, we had some great passages of play, we got a couple of good scores but we made a share of basic errors in possession as well but we are here and it's January 13. There are bound to be mistakes made.
"I felt that in the second half, we played the game on UCC's terms, they were a bit more solid defensively and they had numbers behind the ball. We were probably putting the ball up for grabs too much. Overall, we are happy that we have a game again next week"
Fitzmaurice confirmed Anthony Maher will return for the semi-final with Donaghy unavailable.
SCORERS – Kerry: P Curtin 2-2; P Geaney 0-3 (1f); J Buckley 0-2; M Geaney, Darran O'Sullivan, M O'Donoghue, K O'Leary, BJ Keane 0-1 each. UCC: C Cox 0-7 (3f); P Acheson, B Coughlan, G O'Grady ('45') 0-1 each.
Kerry – B Kealy; M O Se, M Moloney, F Fitzgerald; J Lyne, J Sherwood, K Young; K Donaghy, J Buckley; M Geaney, Darran O'Sullivan, M O'Donoghue; K O'Leary, P Curtin, P Geaney. Subs: B J Keane for D O'Sullivan ( h-t), T O Se for F Fitzgerald ( 52 ), P O'Connor for K O'Leary ( 52 ), A O'Mahony for M O'Donoghue ( 57), A Garnett for K Donaghy ( 64)
UCC – S Mellet; J O'Sullivan, P Galvin, F McNamara; P Crowley, N Daly, T Clancy; P Acheson, D O'Sullivan; K O'Driscoll, B Coughlan, JB Spillane; C Cox, E Buckley, G O'Grady. Sub: P Lucey for B Coughlan ( 57).
Ref – D O'Mahony (Tipperary).