Having been 1-12 to 0-14 in front at half-time, the Rebels actually fell behind as Kerry’s main scoring threat, Shane Nolan, got two quick points on the resumption.
The Kingdom would only add two more to that tally, however, as the manager’s son Shane Kingston (two) and Mark Coleman produced an immediate Cork response.
From there, they pushed on, with Shane Kingston finishing with nine points while sub Luke Meade also made his presence felt.
For Kieran Kingston, the win was welcome, but there was an acknowledgement that parts of the performance weren’t up to scratch.
“There were aspects that we were very pleased with, but aspects that we were definitely not pleased with,” he said.
“We’ve an awful lot of work to do. We weren’t happy with what we did in the first half, okay there was a bit of a breeze there, but we got a lot right in the second half and we ran out convincing winners, which is what you’d expect.
“We conceded 10 frees to three in the first half, you can be dubious about some of them but that’s the way it was. Secondly, the use of the ball, taking shots from 80 yards, we had to cut that out and we spoke about it half-time.”
Darragh Fitzgibbon had the early goal as Cork moved 1-5 to 0-4 ahead, but their largest first-half lead was five points and Nolan, Micheál O’Leary and early sub Jordan Conway all impressed in attack as Kerry whittled down the lead.
In the second half, Kingston came to the fore after moving to centre-forward following Séamus Harnedy’s half-time retirement with a shoulder injury which could keep him out for a few weeks.
Michael Cahalane finished with four points and could have had a goal but for a good Aidan McCabe save, and Kingston is looking forward to seeing the newer members of the panel develop.
“The young lads were very good,” he said, “they worked hard and gave us great pace and movement.
“The lads we brought in as subs were excellent too, they gave a great balance to the team, that’s what we’ve been talking about and trying to do but, look, you’ve got to be realistic, it’s January and it’ll take these lads a while to grow into inter-county hurlers.
“We have to be patient with them and give them a chance to come through over the next while.”
Limerick await in the Gaelic Ground next week, though Harnedy will miss that game while corner-back Killian Burke is also set for a spell out after he suffered a suspected broken thumb in the first half.
“We have a few injuries,” Kingston said.
“Anthony Nash was supposed to start but he hurt his back in the warm-up, he should be back next week though. Paul Haughney is out for about six to eight weeks, Séamus took a knock to his AC joint and we have Luke O’Farrell and Mark Ellis coming back too.”
S Kingston (0-9, 3 frees), D Fitzgibbon (1-2), M Cahalane (0-4), S Harnedy (0-2, frees), L Meade, M Coleman (3 frees) (0-3 each), B Cooper (0-2), L McLoughlin, B Lawton (0-1 each).
S Nolan (0-9, 7 frees), J Conway (0-3), M O’Leary, P O’Connor (0-2 each), M Boyle, J Egan (0-1 each).
P Collins; D Griffin, S McDonnell, K Burke; D Cahalane, C Joyce, M Coleman; L McLoughlin, B Lawton; S O’Keeffe, S Harnedy, S Kingston; M Cahalane, B Cooper, D Fitzgibbon.
S O’Donoghue for Burke (12, injured), L Meade for Harnedy (half-time, injured), A Cadogan for O’Keeffe (58), C Murphy for D Cahalane, C O’Leary for McLoughlin (both 61).
A McCabe; S Weir, R Horgan, B Lyons; J O’Connor, D Dineen, T O’Connor; D Collins, P O’Connor; M O’Leary, M Boyle, B O’Leary; J Goulding, S Nolan, J Egan.
J Conway for B O’Leary (6, injured), T Casey for Goulding (42), P Boyle for M O’Leary, P Lucid for Egan (both 53), J Godley for O’Connor (58).
T Walsh (Waterford).