Cork 0-15 Cavan 1-11
Cork held on by the skin of their teeth to reach the county's first Cadbury All-Ireland Under-21 Football final since 2009, as they edged out Cavan in front of 8,120 spectators in Tullamore.
Six points ahead with 11 minutes remaining, Cork were closing in on an All-Ireland final date with Galway, but Ulster champions Cavan staged a late rally.
Chris Conroy's 54th-minute goal, allied to points from Conor Madden and Paul O'Connor, ensured the gap was cut to the minimum with six minutes remaining.
Mark Sugrue and Dara McVitty then traded points, with a 61st minute point from Conor Moynagh levelling the tie for only the second time and setting up a grandstand finish.
Dan MacEoin popped over his fourth point in the 62nd minute, following a foul on Luke Connolly by goalkeeper Conor Gilsenan.
At least three minutes of injury-time were to be added, but an injury to Madden halted proceedings and Cavan manager Peter Reilly reintroduced Enda Reilly to take a crucial free late on.
However, the Mullahoran clubman failed to convert the 65th minute chance to force extra-time, with referee Liam Devaney blowing the final whistle from David Hanrahan's kick-out.
Cavan fielded the same team which started in all of their games in the lead-up to this All-Ireland semi-final. The Breffni youngsters were bidding to reach their second final in three years, and make amends for their 2011 loss to Galway.
They settled quickest with points from Paul O'Connor and Reilly helping the three-in-a-row Ulster champions to a 0-2 to 0-0 lead after three minutes.
However, Cavan failed to score over the next 13 minutes as Cork got into the game and tagged on four unanswered points.
Defender Brian O'Driscoll popped up to open the Rebels' account in the fourth minute, while points from Dan MacEoin, Luke Connolly and team captain Damien Cahalane ensured a 0-4 to 0-2 lead after 12 minutes.
Cavan cut the deficit entering the second quarter thanks to a point from the right boot of Jack Brady, but Cork began to dominate possession.
Luke Connolly and John O'Rourke fired wides, but the Rebels held a double scores advantage in the 26th minute following points from Luke Connolly and Alan Cadogan.
Cavan bounced back with pointed efforts from Turloch Mooney and Enda Reilly, but a second point from the boot of MacEoin had Cork leading by 0-7 to 0-5 at the break.
The Munster title holders extended their lead to five points inside four minutes of the restart, with Brian Hurley and Mark Sugrue on target and MacEoin added another point soon after.
Cavan worked hard with points from Brady and Reilly, but were unlucky not to take a goal in the 46th minute after Hanrahan denied Chris Conroy.
Reilly's third point cut the gap to four points, and although he was substituted immediately with Conor Madden introduced in his place, the Mullahoran clubman was to have a further impact late on.
Cork moved six points clear with quick scores from Mark Sugrue and O'Driscoll, making it 0-13 to 0-7 with 11 minutes left on the clock, but Cavan were by no means finished yet.
The Breffni youngsters upped the pace and intensity and were rewarded with fine points from Madden and Paul O'Connor, and Conroy sandwiched in his impressive goal.
Cork dominated possession over the next two minutes but their attacks yielded just one score, with Mark Sugrue on target.
Cavan equalised thanks to scores from McVitty and substitute Conor Moynagh. Cork responded to move a point clear, with MacEoin landing his third pointed free in the 62nd minute.
Although Cavan had chances late on, luck was not on their side with Reilly's late miss on his own side being their fifth wide of the half and eighth overall as Cork stood firm for a slender win.
Scorers - Cork: D MacEoin 0-4 (0-4f), M Sugrue 0-3, B O'Driscoll, B Hurley, L Connolly 0-2 each, D Cahalane (0-1 '45'), A Cadogan 0-1 each
Cavan: C Conroy 1-0, E Reilly 0-3, J Brady (0-1f), P O'Connor 0-2 each, T Mooney, D McVitty, C Madden, C Moynagh 0-1 each
CORK: D Hanrahan; C Dorman, D Cahalane, A Cronin; B O'Driscoll, T Clancy, J Wall; S Kiely, I Maguire; A Cadogan, M Sugrue, J O'Rourke; D MacEoin, B Hurley, L Connolly.
Subs used: C Vaughan for Cadogan (56 mins), TJ Brosnan for Clancy (59), J Burns for Maguire (62).
CAVAN: C Gilsenan; J McLoughlin, K Clarke, C Brady; D McVitty, D Sexton, F Flanagan; B Sankey, M Argue; G Smyth, C Conroy, T Mooney; E Reilly, P O'Connor, J Brady.
Subs used: C Moynagh for Sexton, P Graham for Mooney (both 36 mins), C Madden for E Reilly (47), J Dillon for Conroy (56), E Reilly for O'Connor (65).
Referee: Liam Devaney (Mayo)