Cork topple Waterford in Semple Stadium classic
Waterford 1-15 Cork 0-23
Cork earned a deserved victory over Waterford to book a Munster final date with Clare in a wonderfully entertaining contest on a scorching hot day at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
Pat Horgan hit 10 points for the Rebels to the delight of the large travelling support in red.
Waterford hit 16 wides and conceded far too many frees on a day to forget for the Déise men.
Today was all about Cork, however, and Kieran Kingston deserves huge credit for the way he has transformed his team. They showed more hunger and energy than their opponents and their tackling and blocking were immense throughout.
The sides were deadlocked (0-10 apiece) at the break after a pulsating first-half that saw Cork create three glorious goal chances but fail to convert any of them.
Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keefe made two superb saves to deny Alan Cadogan and Séamus Harnedy respectively shortly before half-time, after Pat Horgan had blasted an early effort wide.
Waterford never looked like scoring a goal at the other end but Pauric Mahony’s accurate point-taking kept them in the contest.
Last year’s Hurler of the Year, Austin Gleeson, showed his talent with a magnificent point that only he could score, but he was not as influential as Derek McGrath would have hoped and was eventually taken off.
Pat Horgan’s frees kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Rebels but they will have left the field at the break wondering how they were only level with the Déise after dominating much of the contest.
Cork maintained their high tempo in the second-half and they opened up a three-point lead before Maurice Shanahan - kept quiet for much of the contest – pegged them back with the only goal of the game.
Shanahan ran straight at the Cork defence and tried to offload the ball, only for a deflection to take it right back into his path – Shanahan fired the loose ball to the net but Waterford never gained any momentum from that score.
Cork scored six of the next seven points, including an inspirational effort from Conor Lehane - who finished with four points from play – straight after a powerful shoulder from midfielder Bill Cooper stopped a Waterford attack.
Lehane limped off with an ankle injury and Cork fans will be praying that he isn’t ruled out for the Munster final.
The Rebels saw out the game comfortably despite losing corner back Colm Spillane to a second yellow card.
Make no mistake about it – Cork hurling is back!
Waterford: S O’Keefe, S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors, T De Burca, A Gleeson (0-2), Ph Mahony, J Barron (0-2), C Gleeson, K Moran (c), Pa Mahony (0-5), St Bennett (0-2), Sh Bennett (0-1), M Walsh, M Shanahan (1-1)
Subs: B O’Halloran (0-1) for Sh Bennett, T Ryan for St Bennett, D Fives for S Fives, J Dillon for A Gleeson, P Curran for M Walsh
Cork: A Nash, S McDonnell (c), D Cahalane, C Spillane, C Joyce, M Ellis (0-1), M Coleman (0-1), B Cooper (0-1), D Fitzgibbon (0-1), L Meade, C Lehane (0-4), S Kingston, A Cadogan (0-1), S Harnedy (0-2), P Horgan (0-10)
Subs: M Cahalane (0-1) for S Kingston, D Kearney for D Fitzgibbon, L O’Farrell (0-1) for L Meade, B Lawton for C Lehane, D Brosnan for A Cadogan
Referee: B Kelly
Attendance: 33, 163