Goals from Conor McCarthy and Mark O’Sullivan gave Cork City a first league win in nearly three months as they held on to take the points at the Regional Sports Centre.
There had ten winless domestic games since City beat UCD 1-0 on May 20, but this result moves the Rebel Army up to seventh, just three off Sligo Rovers with a game in hand.
City had the first chance, in the fourth minute.
Having opened his account with the equaliser at the end of extra time last week, Ronan Hurley almost doubled his tally as he linked well with O’Sullivan in the area but his low effort was wide.
However, opportunities for the visitors were in the minority in the opening half, with Waterford – level on points with City going into the game but with a game in hand – beginning to assert themselves.
Walter Figueira on the left flank for the hosts looked dangerous and a good Colm Horgan challenge was needed to deny him on 14 while Tom Holland’s driving run set up a chance for Michael O’Connor nine minutes later but the attacker’s shot was straight at Mark McNulty.
On the right-hand side, Zack Elbouzedi was showing signs of threatening for the Blues and when Holland fed him he drifted in from the right but failed to sufficiently test McNulty while another half-chance for Elbouzedi, set up by Figueira, saw Conor McCormack get in a good block at the expense of a corner.
Eleven minutes before half-time, it was Figueira’s turn to knife through the City cover but, while he managed to get in his shot, Dan Casey averted the danger.
City did manage to interrupt the flow of chances on 38 as Colm Horgan’s cross from the right wasn’t claimed by Matthew Connor but the fall wouldn’t fall kindly for O’Sullivan and former City man Kenny Browne was able to clear.
Kevin O’Connor went close with a long-range curling effort after that, though in injury time Waterford passed up a great chance as Rob Slevin shot wide from a Holland corner.
At half-time, Alan Bennett was introduced for Casey and he was immediately involved, first making an important block on an O’Connor shot and then nearly scoring at the other end from a Kevin O’Connor corner, with Rory Feely intervening.
That led to another corner though and O’Connor’s delivery to the near post was volleyed home by captain Conor McCarthy for his second goal in as many games.
With the confidence flowing, City looked to push on and O’Sullivan’s pass gave Buckley a chance but he curled his effort well wide.
On the hour mark, Waterford had their best chance to equalise.
Once again, Holland was the source with a good ball from a free kick but, from a central position, Slevin couldn’t work McNulty, though there were home shouts for a penalty.
They were to rue their profligacy ten minutes later as City found that important second goal.
When O’Sullivan was found by Buckley’s pass, he still had a lot to do but he shimmied and twisted his way through before sending a low shot beyond Connor.
Waterford struggled to respond to that, but on 88 they gave themselves hope as Rory Feeley’s cross was headed in by JJ Lunney to set up a nervy closing period for City.
Feely did head over and there was another penalty appeal, but the Rebel Army held out.
WATERFORD: Connor; Feely, Browne, Slevin, Lynch; Holland (Bone 72), Lunney; Elbouzedi, Chvedukas (Galvin 70), Figueira; O’Connor (Walsh 76).
CORK CITY: McNulty; Horgan, McCarthy, Casey (Bennett half-time), Hurley; McCormack (Byrne 86), Morrissey; Stokes, Buckley, K O’Connor; O’Sullivan (Crowley 83).
Referee: R Matthews (Westmeath).