It wasn't all plain sailing but Cork ultimately pulled clear for a 13-point victory in Mallow yesterday.
Kieran Kingston's Rebels led by 1-12 to 0-14 at half-time but two points Shane Nolan put Kerry ahead soon after the resumption.
Unfortunately for Fintan O'Connor's visitors, that was as good as it got, with Cork reasserting themselves through two Shane Kingston points and a Mark Coleman free. They never looked back after that, with Kerry limited to just two more points.
Kingston, son of the Cork manager, finished with nine points - the same as Nolan for Kerry - while Cork also had Darragh Fitzgibbon and Michael Cahalane showing up well in attack.
Fitzgibbon's early goal put them 1-5 to 0-4 in front, but while they led by 1-8 to 0-6 after Bill Cooper's point, Kerry couldn't be shaken off.
Cork's defence didn't help their cause, with a worrying tally of frees conceded, and Nolan and Michael O'Leary had nice scores for the Kingdom as they drew to within one and then they pushed ahead early in the second half.
But they couldn't put Cork under further pressure and the swift response from the home side ensured that a crisis wasn't allowed to develop.
Kingston and sub Luke Meade augmented their lead and Cahalane might have grabbed a second goal but Kerry goalkeeper and captain Aidan McCabe did well to tip his shot over the bar.
Scorers - Cork: S Kingston 0-9 (3fs), D Fitzgibbon 1-2, M Cahalane 0-4, S Harnedy (2fs), L Meade, M Coleman (3fs) 0-3 each, B Cooper 0-2, L McLoughlin, B Lawton 0-1 each. Kerry: S Nolan 0-9 (7fs), J Conway 0-3, M O'Leary, P O'Connor 0-2 each, M Boyle, J Egan 0-1 each.
Cork - P Collins; D Griffin, S McDonnell, K Burke; D Cahalane, C Joyce, M Coleman; L McLoughlin, B Lawton; S O'Keeffe, S Harnedy, S Kingston; M Cahalane, B Cooper, D Fitzgibbon. Subs: S O'Donoghue for Burke (12, injured), L Meade for Harnedy (h-t, injured), A Cadogan for O'Keeffe (58), C Murphy for D Cahalane, C O'Leary for McLoughlin (both 61).
Kerry - A McCabe; S Weir, R Horgan, B Lyons; J O'Connor, D Dineen, T O'Connor; D Collins, P O'Connor; M O'Leary, M Boyle, B O'Leary; J Goulding, S Nolan, J Egan. Subs: J Conway for B O'Leary (6, injured), T Casey for Goulding (42), P Boyle for M O'Leary, P Lucid for Egan (both 53), J Godley for O'Connor (58).
Ref - T Walsh (Waterford).