UCC were forced to dig deep to remain on course for a third successive title as they saw off UCD in the quarter-final at the Mardyke yesterday.
An unanswered run of 1-3 midway through the second half helped the hosts to turn a goal deficit into a lead by the same margin, and from there they finished strongly to book their place in the finals weekend in Queen's University.
Captain and wing-back James Barry was central to the turnaround – scoring a rather fortuitous goal – while Cork reserve goalkeeper Darren McCarthy made two important second-half saves from John Power and Walter Walsh, when a second UCD goal could have decided the outcome.
In addition, corner-forward Willie Griffin was excellent for UCC, who were forced to line out without the injured Conor Lehane. Griffin finished with 12 points, unerring from frees, while Alan Cadogan was also in good form.
In the first half, however, UCC were in serious trouble as UCD applied greater physicality and ensured that the home players were put under plenty of pressure when in possession. Jack Guiney's frees were a reliable source of scores for the visitors while powerful duo Walsh and Power linked up very well in attack.
Former UCC Cup winner William Egan and Cillian Buckley also impressed for UCD and, when Patrick Murphy found the net just before half-time, it meant that they turned with a 1-9 to 0-8 advantage at the interval.
Points from Domhnall Fox, Murphy and Guiney early in the second period ensured that they withstood any intended UCC onslaught, but eventually the home side began to assert themselves as the game wore on.
Slowly, they reeled in the lead, a booming effort from Barry levelling matters before a similar effort fell just short only to be dropped over the line by UCD goalkeeper Billy Leydon.
From there, they would not be denied and went on to secure the victory.
Scorers – UCC: W Griffin 0-12 (8fs), J Barry 1-1, A Cadogan 0-3 each, D McCormack 0-2, B Lawton, S Harnedy 0-1 each. UCD: J Guiney 0-8 (7fs), P Murphy 1-2, C Buckley, W Walsh 0-2 each, D Fox 0-1.
UCC – D McCarthy; S Maher, D Glynn, P O'Sullivan; J Barry, P Prendergast, C Murphy; B Murray, D Roche; R O'Shea, D McCormack, J Barron; A Cadogan, B Lawton, W Griffin. Subs: S O'Donnell for Cadogan (14-16, blood), C Spillane for Murphy (35), O'Donnell for Roche (42), S Harnedy for Barron (47).
UCD – B Leydon; B Coughlan, W Phelan, J Gannon; J Lyng, M O'Hanlon, W Egan; C Keane, C Buckley; W Walsh, P Murphy, J Power; D Fox, J Guiney, D Treacy. Subs: C O'Shea for Fox (50), J McDowell for Gannon (58), M Vaughan (Clare) for Keane (60).
REF – A Kelly (Galway)