SEVEN points from Ryan Clifford helped Cork IT edge past visitors St Patrick's Mater Dei of Drumcondra yesterday afternoon to reach the semi-finals.
Despite an excellent start, the home side could quite easily have been ambushed in this tie, as a game St Pat's outfit battled hard and almost caused an upset.
That had looked a remote possibility when Kilkenny's Colin Fennelly found the net for CIT inside 40 seconds, and unanswered points from Patrick O'Connor (two), Fennelly and Clifford were added in the opening 15 minutes.
In contrast, St Pat's were struggling despite playing with the wind, racking up a considerable number of wides. But three points in a row, including two by Tom Breen, helped them into the game and at half-time they trailed by 1-6 to 0-4.
Seven minutes into the second half, they had cut the deficit to just a point, 1-7 to 1-6, when Ian Duggan struck for a goal after a lovely Paudie Kehoe pass, and with Kehoe and Clifford engaged in a free-taking shootout, the game remained tight.
St Pat's only pulled level once, however -- for less than a minute -- and in the end CIT had just enough nous to see themselves over the line.
Scorers -- Cork IT: R Clifford 0-7 (6f), C Fennelly 1-1, P O'Connor 0-2(2f), C Casey 0-1. St Patrick's Mater Dei: P Kehoe 0-5 (5f), I Duggan 1-0, T Breen, J Farrell 0-2 each.
CORK IT -- T Quaid; J O'Callaghan, E Dillon, J Herlihy; S McDonnell, R Cashman, C Leahy; S White, L McLoughlin; P O'Connor, C Casey, M Bowles; M O'Sullivan, C Fennelly, R Clifford. Subs: P Gould for White (43), S Corcoran for O'Sullivan (48), E Cronin for Casey (58), S Daniels for Herlihy (60).
ST PATRICK'S MATER DEI -- E Reilly; D Wafer, A Murphy, N Ring; M Quilty, B Travers, C Whelan; I Duggan, L Ryan; C Maher, J Farrell, A Dermody; G Spollen, P Kehoe, T Breen. Subs: N Breen for Dermody (43), B Timmons for Spollen (48), Spollen for Duggan (50-51, blood).
Ref -- P Casey (Waterford).