By John Fogarty
Cork 0-23 Waterford 1-15
Cork set up a first Munster final date with Clare since 1999 with a polished performance against a supposedly wilier Waterford outfit in a sun-drenched Semple Stadium.
The Déise looked rusty at times but there can be no doubt that their downfall was of Cork’s making as Kieran Kingston’s side once more confounded the odds having beaten 2016 All-Ireland champions Tipperary four weeks previous.
Cork were three points to the good up to the 46th minute when Maurice Shanahan finished off a goal move, which should have been called back for a Cork free.
But Cork’s response was impressive: they converted the next three points to restore that advantage, Bill Cooper’s thundering shoulder on Kevin Moran for Conor Lehane’s point in the 52nd minute a real statement of intent.
Waterford did close the gap to two but scores from Michael Cahalane, Pa Horgan (free) and Seamus Harnedy sent them into a five-point lead that their opponents really only threatened to eat into when Shanahan seemed to be held in the parallelogram but his pleas were ignored.
Watched by a 33,163 crowd, the heat of the day was matched by the hurling from the outset.
Cork were out of the traps smarter, Horgan and Darragh Fitzgibbon hitting points before Waterford hit three on the trot, two of them from Stephen Bennett.
The sides were level again in the ninth and 13th minutes but in that space Austin Gleeson pulled off an outrageous score.
Horgan had a goal chance in the 14th minute after losing Noel Connors but blazed the shot wide although Conor Lehane sent over a brace, one of them a marvellous effort from close to the sideline.
Mark Coleman’s influence was key for Cork and they went three up in the 19th minute as Mark Ellis sent a strike over from distance.
Waterford, perhaps a little sluggish after their 11-week break, hit back with two in the space of a minute.
A Horgan free either side of one from Pauric Mahony kept Cork in control but the margin became a solitary point when Jamie Bannon fired over a score after Tadhg de Burca had expertly beaten Shane Kingston to a ball.
A further two Cork goal chances came within 60 seconds of each other but Stephen O’Keeffe was level to each of them, the first an angled effort by Alan Cadogan and the second a terrific denial of Horgan from point blank range.
Waterford cleared their lines and ended up pointing via Kevin Moran to square the game at 0-10 going into the break.
Scorers for Cork: P. Horgan (0-10, 7 frees, 1 65); C. Lehane (0-4); S. Harnedy (0-2); D. Fitzgibbon, M. Coleman (sideline), M. Ellis, B. Cooper, A. Cadogan, M. Cahalane, L. O’Farrell (0-1 each).
Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony (0-5, 1 free); M. Shanahan (1-1, 0-1 free); Stephen Bennett, A. Gleeson, J. Barron (0-2 each); Shane Bennett, K. Moran, B. O’Halloran (0-1 each).
CORK: A. Nash; S. McDonnell (c), D. Cahalane, C. Spillane; C. Joyce, M. Ellis, M. Coleman; B. Cooper, D. Fitzgibbon; L. Meade, C. Lehane, S. Harnedy; P. Horgan, A. Cadogan, S. Kingston.
Subs for Cork: M. Cahalane for S. Kingston (55); D. Kearney for S. Fitzgibbon, L. O’Farrell for L. Meade (61); B. Lawton for C. Lehane (inj 69); D. Brosnan for A. Cadogan (70+3).
Sent off: C. Spillane (second yellow, 62).
WATERFORD: S. O’Keeffe; S. Fives, B. Coughlan, N. Connors; C. Gleeson, T. de Burca, Philip Mahony; J. Barron, K. Moran (c); Stephen Bennett, Pauric Mahony, M. Walsh; A. Gleeson, M. Shanahan, Shane Bennett.
Subs for Waterford: T. Ryan for Stephen Bennett (48); B. O’Halloran for Shane Bennett (54); D. Fives for S. Fives (58); J. Barron for A. Gleeson (63); P. Curran for M. Walsh (66).
Referee: B. Kelly (Westmeath).