Clare U20 2-07 Cork U20 1-12

It proved an anxious first defence of their Munster and All-Ireland crowns for Cork who were met with late surges in both halves before finally shaking off stubborn hosts Clare.

In the end, a seven-point unanswered start to the second period, including five from Blake Murphy placed balls would be sufficient to prevail despite seeing their six-point cushion whittled down to just two before the relieving sound of the final whistle.

With seven of last year's All-Ireland-winning side making an appearance, Cork's added experience just about shaded matters as joint-captains Murphy (9) and Mark Cronin (2) along with goalscorer Jack Murphy did the majority of the scoring damage.

The holders began in confident mood as a brace of Blake Murphy frees were accentuated by a fortunate goal for opportunist namesake Jack after a '45 was spilled by a defender at the edge of the square in the 11th minute. 

However, despite facing into the conditions, the hosts hit back almost immediately when Shane Meehan opened Clare's account before teeing up Emmet McMahon to slide the ball into the net at 1-02 to 1-01 by the turn of the second quarter.

Mark Cronin stopped the rot but his subsequent goal attempt would be inadvertently kept out by team-mate Fionn Herlihy, whose rebound was also repelled by defender John Murphy.

Blake Murphy did convert the resulting '45 to restore a three-point cushion but by then, a determined Clare had the bit between their teeth and would actually inch ahead for the first time by the 25th minute.

A Mark McInerney free was surpassed by the score of the game as a patient build-up involving Eoin and Cillian Rouine, Emmet McMahon and Diarmuid O'Donnell teed up McInerney for the Banner's second goal to move 2-02 to 1-04 clear.

Half-time couldn't have come at a more opportune time for the champions, who duly regrouped and re-emerged a far more potent side on the turnover.

Punishing Clare's increased indiscipline, six placed balls without reply followed, five from chief marksman Blake Murphy as Cork eased 1-11 to 2-02 clear by the turn for home.

It wouldn't be as straight-forward as that though as a home resurgence including three points from Mark McInerney lowered the arrears to just three in additional time.

However, the host's fading hopes of a full reprieve would be denied at the death as Eoin Rouine's shot under pressure sailed over the bar.

Having blown off the cobwebs, Cork now meet Kerry in the Munster Under 20 final for the fifth successive season, this time in Austin Stack Park in Tralee next Wednesday at 7pm.

Cork: Josh O'Keeffe; Diarmaid Phelan, Daniel O'Mahony, Colm O'Shea; David Buckley, Bill Foley, Brian Lynch; Jack Lawton, Daniel O'Connell; Jack Murphy (1-00), Aodhán Ó Luasa, Brian Hayes; Mark Cronin (0-02, 0-01f), Fionn Herlihy (0-01), Blake Murphy (0-09 0-07f, 0-01'45, 0-01m). 

Subs: Eanna O'Hanlon for Foley (Half-Time), Eoghan Lehane for Lynch (35 mins), Conor Corbett for Hayes (35 mins), Sean Desmond for Phelan (63 mins), Jack Kelleher for Corbett (65 mins)

Clare: Tom O'Brien; Manus Doherty, Michéal Murray, Ciarán McMahon; Daniel Walsh, Cillian Rouine, Sean Conway; Oisín Looney, Eoin Rouine (0-01); John Murphy, Emmet McMahon (1-01), Thomas Clancy; Diarmuid O’Donnell, Shane Meehan (0-01, 0-01f), Mark McInerney (1-04, 0-03f)

Subs: Morgan Garry for O'Donnell (36 mins), Gavin D’Auria for Murray (52 mins), Eoghan Thynne for Clancy (53 mins), Cian McDonough for Conway (60 mins)

Referee: Brendan Griffin (Kerry)