UCC laid down a real marker as they impressively overcame defending champions UL by six points.
Kerry's Shane Conway stole the show, with nine points. Chris O'Leary and Shane Kingston also impressed.
Hosts UL, without a raftt of big names, struggled to match a physical and pacy UCC.
Barry Murphy netted a penalty but he had stepped over the 21m line and his score was ruled out.
The teams were level ten times, but in the final quarter UCC kept UL at arm's length.
Kilkenny's Martin Keoghan was the Limerick side's best player, followed by Shane Golden and Ronan Lynch.
An urgent improvement is required by UL, who have no more home games in the competition, ahead of Thursday's clash with NUIG.
UCC must build on this encouraging display, starting on Wednesday against UCD.
Scorers - UCC: S Conway 0-9 (4fs), C O'Leary 0-7 (5fs 2 '65s'), S Kingston 0-3, R O'Flynn, M O'Halloran 0-2 each, M Coleman (s-l), C Brown, D Griffin 0-1 each. UL: M Keoghan, B Murphy (4fs) 0-4 each, J Morris 0-3, S Golden, R Lynch (1f, 1 '65') 0-2 each, I Galvin, T Morrissey, K O'Brien, J Henle, S Veale 0-1 each.
UCC - J Barry; N O'Leary, E Gunning, D Lynch; C O'Leary, P O'Loughlin, D Griffin; E Murphy, M Coleman; R Donohoe, C Brown, M O'Halloran; S Conway, M Keogh, S Kingston. Subs: K Dwyer for Lynch (52), D Walsh for Griffin (61), C Roche for O'Halloran (61)
UL - J Power; A McGuane, P Maher, E Cody; R Lynch, C Cleary, J Henley; S Golden, J Shelley; I Galvin, K O'Brien, T Morrissey; M Keoghan, J Morris, B Murphy. Subs: T Hannan for Shelley (41), B Coady for Henley (48), S Veale for O'Brien (49), C Darcy for Murphy (53), M Carey for Maher (57).
Ref - F Horgan (Tipperary)