Cork eventually had three points to spare over Limerick in this Munster JFC semi-final at Páirc Uí Rinn but they needed a strong finish.
The visitors belied their underdog status to keep pace with the hosts for much of the encounter, and they led by 0-13 to 0-12 after Jimmy Barry-Murphy's fifth point in the 52nd minute.
Cork, All-Ireland champions in five of the past 10 years, never panicked, however. While Sean Kiely shot wide with a goal chance, Alan Barry levelled and then first-half sub Seamus Hickey put them ahead with his third point.
While Seamus O'Carroll looked to have tied things again for Limerick, his effort came off the post and Cork made sure of the win with points from Mark Sugrue and Hickey.
Cork looked to set to dominate when they led through early points from captain Kiely and Hickey. But some bad wides set them back and Limerick eventually got going.
Michael Lyons, a late replacement before throw-in, kicked two points while Barry-Murphy and Jason Mullins were also on target as they led by 0-4 to 0-2.
O'Carroll could have extended that lead further but he shot wide with a goal attempt on 13 and Cork - with Cillian Brosnan impressing at midfield - regained the lead as Sugrue, Anthony O'Connor and John Corkery all scored.
Limerick couldn't be shaken off, though, and by half-time the sides were level again (0-7 apiece) with matters fairly balanced on the resumption too.
Only once in the third quarter did either side manage to get two points in a row, Barry and Hickey the stand-outs in the Cork attack while Barry-Murphy began to really come to the fore for Limerick. He tied matters again at 0-11 each on 45 minutes and, though Barry put Cork in front again, Limerick looked to have put themselves in the box seat.
Ryan levelled the game for the tenth time and then O'Carroll threaded a lovely pass for Barry-Murphy, allowing him to smartly convert and leave Cork looking over the abyss. When Kiely - earlier shown a red a card in error by referee Alan Kissane, who had intended to display a yellow - shot wide, it looked like it might just be Limerick's day. However, Cork kept their composure to reach the final.
Scorers - Cork: S Hickey, A Barry 0-4 each, M Sugrue (0-1f) 0-3, S Kiely 0-2, J Corkery, B Coughlan, A O'Connor 0-1 each.
Limerick: J Barry-Murphy 0-5 (3f), M Lyons, J Mullins (0-2f) 0-3 each, S O'Carroll, K Ryan 0-1 each.
CORK - A Seymour; AJ O'Connor, C Hyde, J McLoughlin, S Kiely, J Collins, B Daly; M Ó Laoire, C Brosnan; J Corkery, B Coughlan, M Sugrue; A O'Connor, P Condon, A Barry. Subs: S Hickey for Coughlan (7, inj), Coughlan for Condon (38), D Murphy for Hyde (48), P Daly for Corkery (50-52, blood).
LIMERICK - G Greaney; S Barrett, K Brosnan, B Hannigan; T McCarthy, M Sheehan, J Naughton; D Ward, T McMahon; W Cronin, S O'Carroll, K Ryan; J Barry-Murphy, J Mullins, M Lyons.
Subs: T Butler for Ward (16), B Fanning for McMahon (34), K Barry for Naughton (43), M O'Donovan for Ryan (49), T Quilligan for Lyons (52).
Ref - A Kissane (Waterford)