Kerry are Munster Under-20 champions after dethroning Cork with a powerful come-from-behind second half performance that left the defending All-Ireland champions down and out by a 0-17 to 1-09 scoreline.
The Kingdom overturned a four-points half-time deficit by outscoring the Rebels by nine, 0-12 to 0-03, in the second half, to set up an All-Ireland semi-final against Galway or Roscommon on St Patrick's Day.
Neither county had produced their best work in their respective semi-final wins, but Cork came to Tralee slight favourites to retain their provincial title.
By half-time it seemed as if they would make good on that, taking a 1-06 to 0-05 lead into the break. Kerry had other ideas, however, in the second period, and went about their business in a focused manner, kicking over scores with regularity.
Midfielder Darragh Lyne and a free from Paul Walsh got the Kingdom moving early in the second half, and though Cork hit back with a fine long-range score from joint-captain Mark Cronin, it was clear that the momentum had already shifted.
Where Cork had been all power and speed and directness in the first half, now Kerry had the measure of the champions, and were hoovering up most of the ball around the middle and running all the best angles and lines.
Ruaidhri O Beaglaoich won a tap-over free for Walsh, and when Paul O'Shea and Sean Horan pointed the teams were level; 0-10 to 1-07.
Thereafter it was a near Kerry procession with a volley of points – two from O Beaglaoich, one from an advanced mark, and two from sub Sean Quilter to push Kerry 0-14 to 1-08 ahead.
Blake Murphy fired over Cork’s third and final point of the half to make it a two-point game, but Kerry weren’t for catching, with O Beaglaoich (2) and Sean Keane sealing the win.
The first half was a story of two goal chances: one missed by Kerry in the 16th minute and the other converted by Cork in the 25th minute. The game’s only goal was, more or less, the difference between the teams at half-time, with both sides ruing plenty of missed chances.
Kerry were first on the scoreboard through O Beaglaoich's free in the fifth minute, but there were never any more than two points between the teams until Blake Murphy nailed Cork’s goal late in the half.
Patrick Darcy and Killian Falvey converted to edge Kerry 0-03 to 0-01 in front, but Cronin (free) and Jack Murphy replied to level it up. Moments before Murphy’s score, O Beaglaoich got inside his man and teed up Darcy a couple of metres from the goal line, but a moment’s hesitation by the Kerry number 11 allowed David Buckley recover from a slip and make a brilliant goal-line block.
It was 0-04 apiece when Aodhán Ó Luasa dispossessed Dylan Casey and put Blake Murphy through, but the joint-captain still had plenty to do before calmly side-stepping Marc Kelliher and slipping the ball to the Kerry net.
Murphy added two late points to give the Rebels a 1-6 to 0-05 interval lead, even though they had kicked four scoreable shots short into Kelliher’s hands. Kerry were guilty of wastage, too, in that first period, with five wides and a couple of under-hit efforts hurting them on the scoreboard.
The second half was a different story. Kerry could hardly miss, and they booked their All-Ireland semi-final spot with a first All-Ireland title since 2008 still a live issue.
Kerry: Marc Kelliher, Owen Fitzgerald, James McCarthy, Dan McCarthy, Luke Brosnan, Dylan Casey, Sean O’Brien, Darragh Lyne 0-01, Michael O’Gara, Paul Walsh 0-03 (frees), Patrick Darcy 0-02, Killian Falvey 0-01, Paul O’Shea 0-01, Sean Horan 0-01, Ruaidhri O Beaglaoich 0-05 (0-02f, 0-01m).
Subs: Eddie Horan for O Fitzgerald (ht), Sean Keane 0-01 for P Walsh (44), Sean Quilter 0-02 (0-01f) for K Falvey (46), Sean O’Connell for S Horan (49), Dylan Geaney for P Darcy (54).
Cork: Cian O’Leary, Colm O’Shea, Daniel O’Mahony, Diarmuid Phelan, David Buckley, Billy Foley, Eanna O’Hanlon, Jack Lawton, Daniel O’Connell, Jack Murphy 0-01, Aodhan Ó Luasa, Brian Hayes, Mark Cronin 0-04 (0-01f), Fionn Herlihy 0-01, Blake Murphy 1-03.
Subs: Brian Lynch for D Phelan (29), Conor Corbett for A Ó Luasa (ht), Bill Curtin for J Lawton (38), Darragh Hayes for B Hayes (52), Conor Russell for F Herlihy (59).
Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)