Colm Cooper’s 20th championship goal proved to be the decisive score as Kerry secured their 75th Munster Senior Football Championship title at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney.
Cooper struck for the only goal of the game six minutes from the break to give Kerry a deserved 1-10 to 0-06 interval lead against a struggling Cork side.
Cork eventually rallied to shoot six points in succession in the second-half but Kerry held on for victory and a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals with a 1-16 to 0-17 success.
Cork made three late changes with Noel O’Leary, Aidan Walsh and Donncha O’Connor coming in for Tomas Clancy, Pearse O’Neill and Patrick Kelly, but they struggled from the outset.
Indeed, Kerry looked set to ease their way to the Munster title when a dominant opening half display saw them lead by 1-10 to 0-6 at the interval.
They would have been further ahead had they not hit eight wides, including a great goal chance from James O’Donoghue after 25 minutes.
But Cooper showed him how to do it four minutes later when he slotted the ball into the right corner after a good run from Declan O’Sullivan had created the opening.
Cork made three more changes for the start of the second-half and it was a much improved display from the Rebels in the second-half.
Former Antrim player James Loughrey and Daniel Goulding found the target for Cork, but Kerry pulled further in front with two points from Cooper and one each from O’Donoghue and Marc O Sé helping them to lead by 1-14 to 0-08 after 48 minutes.
Cork responded and enjoyed their best spell of the game which yielded six points in succession from Goulding (two), Donncha O’Connor, Ciaran Sheahan, Aidan Walsh and Brian Hurley to reduce the margin to 1-14 to 0-14 with eight minutes remaining.
Bryan Sheehan eased the pressure on Kerry with a free from distance but it was cancelled at the other end with Loughrey’s second score.
Peter Crowley and Hurley then exchanged points and Goulding’s seventh point left two between them after Kerry goalkeeper Brendan Kealy had turned a goal chance from Hurley around the post for a 45, but the Kingdom held on for a deserved victory.
Kerry: B Kealy (0-01f); M O’Sé (0-01), M Griffin, S Enright; T O’Sé, K Young, P Crowley (0-01); A Maher (0-01), J Buckley (0-01f); P Galvin (0-01), C Cooper (1-3, 0-03f), D Walsh; Darran O’Sullivan (0-01), Declan O’Sullivan (0-02), J O’Donoghue (0-03).
Subs: K Donaghy for Walsh (56 mins), F Fitzgerald for T O Sé (59 mins), E Brosnan for Young (60 mins), B Sheehan (0-01f) for Buckley (62 mins)
Cork: K O’Halloran; E Cadogan, M Shields, D Cahalane; J Loughrey (0-02), P Kissane, N O’Leary; G Canty, A Walsh (0-01); F Goold, D O’Connor (0-02, 1f), J O’Rourke (0-01); D Goulding (0-07, 0-04f, 0-02 ’45), B Hurley (0-02), P Kerrigan (0-01).
Subs: A O’Connor for Cahalane (34 mins), T Clancy (Clonakilty) for Cadogan (35 mins), P O’Neill for O’Rourke (35 mins), C Sheahan (0-01) for O’Connor (54 mins).
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).
Highlights and analysis of all the weekend’s action on The Sunday Game from 21:30 on Sunday 6 July on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only). Expert and fan reaction on Take Your Point from 18:00 on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).