A Jack O’Connor point in the second minute of injury-time progressed Kerry to a seventh Munster MFC final in a row.
Trailing by 0-7 to 1-3 early in the second-half, Kerry appeared to have made the decisive burst when kicking six unanswered points to move 1-9 to 0-7 ahead.
But Cork slowly ate into their opponents’ advantage and drew level when Conor Corbett rattled the net in the 61st minute. This one had extra-time written all over it only for Kerry sub Jack O’Connor to fist the winner.
The victory extends Kerry’s winning-run at minor level to 26 games.
Cork would have been the more disappointed with the interval scoreline of 1-3 to 0-6. All told, they should have been in front. Yes, they struggled early on as Kerry racked up an early 1-1, but between the eighth and 33rd minute, they outscored their hosts by 0-6 to 0-1.
Having recovered from the setback of Paul Walsh’s seventh-minute goal, Cork had the deficit cut to the minimum by the 18th minute.
Here is where they became slightly wasteful, slightly unlucky.
Conor Corbett, who kicked each of their four first-half points from play, had his goal shot blocked by the body of Dan Murphy. In the subsequent action, Niall Harnett and Aodhán Ó Luasa - the contributor of two first-half frees - put through Corbett for another goal chance. This time, the crossbar denied the Clyda Rovers corner-forward. And when Sean McDonnell dropped a point effort shortly after, one wondered if Cork would ever get back on level terms.
On 23 minutes, Corbett had them level, with the same played edging the visitors in front approaching the break.
Kerry could have had a second goal if Patrick D’Arcy offloaded to the unmarked Paul Walsh in first-half stoppages. It didn’t materialise, although Walsh did have the final say of the half when kicking Kerry’s first score in 16 minutes to tie up matters.
They'll bid for a sixth consecutive Munster minor crown next month.
Scorers for Kerry: P Walsh (1-3, 0-2 frees); R Ó Beaglaoich (0-2 frees), D McCarthy, J O’Connor (0-2 each); D Rahilly, J Kennelly (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cork: C Corbett (1-4); A Ó Luasa (0-4, 0-4 frees); N Harnett, J Kelleher (0-1 each).
Kerry: M Kelliher (Glenflesk); K O’Donoghue (Legion), C Moriarty (Annascaul), C Flannery (Dingle); D McCarthy (Kenmare), D Murphy (Rathmore), D Mangan (Laune Rangers); P O’Shea (Kilcummin), D Lyne (Legion); D Rahilly (Rathmore), P D’Arcy (Glenflesk), K Falvey (Annascaul); J Kennelly (Ballydonoghue), P Walsh (Brosna), R Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht).
Subs: J O’Connor (Beaufort) for Rahilly (40 mins); D Dineen for Kennelly, S Quilter (Austin Stacks) for D’Arcy (both 55).
Cork: D Doody (Buttevant); D Connolly (Glanworth), D Buckley (Newcestown), C O’Donovan (Glanmire); F Cronin (Cullen), D Phelan (Aghada), E Nation (Nemo Rangers); N Hartnett (Douglas), J Harte (Douglas); H Murphy (Éire Óg), D O’Sullivan (St Finbarr’s), E Cooke (Ballincollig); S McDonnell (Mallow), A Ó Luasa (Naomh Abán), C Corbett (Clyda Rovers).
Subs: M O’Neill (Buttevant) for McDonnell (27); J Kelleher (Canovee) for O’Sullivan (46); G Carey (Buttevant) for Harte (47); R Lombard (Ballyhooley) for Harnett (55); J O’Shea (Urhan) for O’Donovan (57).
Referee: S Lonergan (Tipperary).