Clinical Cork earn high praise from Counihan
An impressive start from All-Ireland champions Cork set the tone as Conor Counihan's team easily advanced past Waterford in the semi-final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
While Cork were rarely stretched by the visitors, the Rebels still produced an excellent performance, dealing well with the task at hand and showing little signs of complacency.
And Cork manager Counihan was pleased with their fine start. "We got a good start and it was always going to be difficult for Waterford then," he said. "We played some of our best football for a long time in the first 20 minutes, the goals probably knocked them back a bit.
"It was two teams, one playing quite well and the other not playing as well as they can -- though they had a period before half-time when they got a goal and a few points."
He added: "You always want to be the best you can be, but at times we made basic errors, which we'll have to work on, but all in all you can't be too critical."
It has been one of the criticisms levelled at this Cork team -- that they do not score enough goals and fail to kill off teams -- but here they attempted to do so early on, having registered 3-7 in the first 19 minutes, Waterford having mustered only two points.
The first of those goals carried plenty of good fortune, as centre-back John Miskella's ball from between the '45' and '65', intended for Daniel Goulding, was misjudged by Waterford goalkeeper Kieran Cotter and the ball bounced into the net.
That made it 1-1 to 0-1 with four minutes gone, but the second goal, on nine minutes, had no luck attached to it as the Rebels carved open the Waterford defence.
They possibly overdid things, Donncha O'Connor playing a sideline ball to Ciaran Sheehan and taking the return before twice exchanging passes with Patrick Kelly, who then palmed across goal towards Goulding for an easy finish.
The points were flowing over as well, as Sheehan scored a beauty on 12 minutes and Goulding got another before the third goal. Kelly's perfect pass into the path of Alan O'Connor set things in motion, the midfielder just getting his toe to the ball to send it to Goulding and his handpass allowed Paul Kerrigan to finish clinically past Cotter.
But, amazingly, the Rebels would then go 14 minutes without scoring as Waterford added three points with Brian Phelan applying a top-quality strike, and while Aidan Walsh ended Cork's drought with a fine score, Waterford still finished stronger.
Brian Wall's effort crept just over Alan Quirke's crossbar before Gary Hurney was pushed in the small rectangle by Eoin Cadogan, the corner-forward taking the penalty himself and sending Quirke the wrong way.
Clearly Cork were given a lecture at half-time about letting Waterford back into contention. Cork's fourth goal arrived within 18 seconds of the restart as Walsh and Donncha O'Connor combined to give Goulding a chance, which he took with relish.
After that goal, the game was a procession as Cork continued to go for the jugular while Waterford were completely stifled, barely getting a sniff of a chance.
Goulding was unlucky not to get his hat-trick on 41 minutes when his ground shot was blocked by Kieran Connery after he had dispossessed Cotter.
But substitute Fintan Goold ensured that the Rebels scored five goals in a championship match for the first time since the 1993 All-Ireland semi-final win over Mayo, with a brilliant top-corner finish moments later.
Corner-back Eoin Cotter and substitute David Goold also got in on the scoring act, though Waterford did glean some consolation as Brian Wall's free from 35 yards eluded Quirke and bounced in.
It was mere window-dressing on the scoreline, however, and Cork's passage to face Kerry in the final was never going to be blocked.
Counihan dismissed any notions that the two finalists won't know what level they are at following their respective facile semi-final victories.
"I think the teams know themselves well now at this stage, there's no tricks up the sleeve," Counihan said afterwards.
"Cork people always like going to Killarney and we're looking forward to it, we know that there's only a point or two in it at any time."
Scorers -- Cork: D Goulding 2-2, P Kerrigan 1-3, J Miskella 1-2, F Goold 1-0, F Lynch, D Goold 0-2 each, P Kelly, A Walsh, C Sheehan, E Cotter, D O'Connor (0-1f), G Spillane 0-1 each.
Waterford: B Wall (1-0f) , G Hurney (1-0 pen) 1-1 each, T Prendergast, S Fleming (0-1f) 0-2 each, S Briggs, B Phelan 0-1 each.
CORK -- A Quirke 6; E Cadogan 6, E Cotter 7, M Shields 8; G Canty 7, J Miskella 9, P Kissane 6; A O'Connor 7, A Walsh 8; C Sheehan 7, P Kelly 8, F Lynch 7; D Goulding 8, D O'Connor 6, P Kerrigan 8. Subs: F Goold 8 for Sheehan, N Murphy 6 for Walsh (both 39), G Spillane 7 for Miskella (45), D Goold 7 for Goulding, D O'Sullivan 6 for Shields (both 55).
WATERFORD -- K Cotter 7; M O'Gorman 6, T O'Gorman 7, K Connery 6; E Walsh 6, S Briggs 5, T Grey 6; M Ahern 5, B Phelan 6; B Wall 7, P Hurney 6, W Hennessy 5; G Hurney 6, S Fleming 6, T Prendergast 6. Subs: R Ahearne 6 for Hennessy (33), T Connors 6 for P Hurney (44), C Phelan 6 for K Connery (47), K Power 6 for B Phelan (54), J Hurney 6 for Walsh (57).
Ref -- P Fox (Westmeath).