Cork book Munster final place after dramatic late comeback denies Waterford
Waterford 1-20 Cork 1-23
Cork's Munster title defence held by a thread in Thurles where four injury-time points eventually edged them past the challenge of a determined Waterford.
The victory puts them into a provincial final against Clare on July 1, but it was nervy business from the defending champions who trailed by a point at the end of normal time only to see scores from Shane Kingston, Patrick Horgan, Christopher Joyce and Seamus Harnedy get them over the line.
They looked to be in trouble when Tommy Ryan fired home a 55th minute Killinan-end goal for Waterford to leave the Leesiders three points adrift, but they got three of the next four scores before Horgan set up Harnedy for a critical 66th minute Cork goal.
For a team chasing a Munster final place, they had looked curiously out of sorts in the first-half, particularly against opponents hurling for pride alone.
Cork's puck-out returns were poor and they looked complacent in possession, countless clearances blocked down and needless hand-passes going to ground. It was mystifying to see from a team that came to Thurles with destiny in their own hands.
By contrast, Waterford looked fully tuned in, Austin Gleeson deployed in the role of sweeper with Tommy Ryan revelling in the space granted by being a lone presence in the full-forward line.
Pauric Mahony was thriving too around the middle of the field where too much of Cork's hurling lacked the requisite energy to put Waterford under any significant pressure.
The sides were level 0-3 each after eleven minutes, but Waterford out-scored their opponents 0-5 to 0-2 in the next seven minutes, Mahony, Jamie Barron and 'Brick' Walsh - playing his record 74th Championship game - all giving Derek McGrath's team an edge in the middle third.
Cork's inside line of Shane Kingston, Seamus Harnedy and Pat Horgan carrioed an obvious threat but, too often, the players outside them chose to shoot from unpromising positions. It meant the Leesiders had accumulated nine wides by the mid-point, at which stage they trailed 0-11 to 0-15.
Mahony had six of Waterford's points, three from play while Gleeson, thriving in thaqt covering role between the two defensive lines, also landed a monster score from deep inside his own half.
Ryan's goal then seemed to have the Leesiders in trouble, but Waterford eventually ran out of legs and those four injury-time points edged Cork safely through to next month's Munster final.
SCORERS: Cork - S Harnedy 1-3, P Horgan 0-5 (0-2 frees, 0-1 '65'), B Cooper, C Lehane and S Kingston 0-3 each, M Coleman 0-2 (0-1 line cut), D Kearney 0-2, C Joyce, D Fitzgibbon 0-1 each.
Waterford - Pauric Mahony 0-8 (0-4 frees, 0-1 '65'), T Ryan 1-3, J Dillon and B O'Halloran 0-2 each, A Gleeson, J Barron, T Devine, DJ Foran and M Shanahan 0-1 each.
CORK: A Nash, S O'Donoghue, D Cahalane, C Spillane, C Joyce, E Cadogan, M Coleman, D Fitzgibbon, B Cooper, L Meade, C Lehane, D Kearney, S Kingston, S Harnedy, P Horgan. Subs - C O'Sullivan for O'Donoghue (45 mins), M Cahalane for Meade (61 mins), J O'Connor for Fitzgibbon (74 mins).
WATERFORD: I O'Regan, I Kenny, C Gleeson, N Connors, M Walsh, A Gleeson, Philip Mahony, J Barron, Pauric Mahony, K Moran, C Dunford, J Dillon, B O'Halloran, T Devine, T Ryan. Subs - S Keating for Connors (24 mins), DJ Foran for Dillon (40 mins), S Roche for O'Halloran (45 mins), S Bennett for Walsh (55 mins), M Shanahan for Bennett (60 mins).
Referee - J Keenan (Wicklow).