CORK 3-15 WATERFORD 2-22
Despite a spirited second-half performance, Cork fell to their fifth defeat of this season's National Hurling League as Waterford closed out their campaign with a deserved win at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Waterford led by 13 points at one stage in the second half - 2-17 to 1-7 - but Cork manager Denis Walsh made two switches which got his side back in contention.
He brought on team captain John Gardiner and put him in at centre-back where Tom Kenny had been operating. This moved Kenny into his regular position at midfield and things soon began to tick.
The Rebels scored two goals in the space of six minutes. Substitute Paudie O'Sullivan, brother of Diarmuid O'Sullivan, kicked home the first and in between points from Pat Horgan, Kenny and Gardiner, corner-back Shane O'Neill slammed home the second.
O'Neill's goal came off one of the best attacking moves of the day as Horgan hand-passed for him to blast past Clinton Hennessy in limited space.
Cork managed to reduce the deficit to a single goal, thanks to points from Jerry O'Connor and Cathal Naughton, but they ran out of steam at the finish.
Waterford took the spoils as two-goal hero Gary Hurney calmed nerves with two late points and Seamus Prendergast was also on target in injury-time.
The win sees Waterford finish fifth in the final Division 1 table and will give Davy Fitzgerald's men a timely boost ahead of their Munster Championship semi-final clash with Limerick next month.
For Cork, they have plenty to work on for their Championship opener against Tipperary but with players of the calibre of the O'Connors, Gardiner and Kenny they could yet rescue the 2009 season and make it memorable for on-the-field matters.
The real damage this afternoon was done in the first half when Waterford galloped into a 1-13 to 1-4 half-time lead.
The Deise signalled their intent early on with a point after 15 seconds from Seamus Prendergast and then a successful '65' from Eoin Kelly.
Cork clawed back the deficit with a sixth-minute goal from corner forward Barry Johnson, who captained Cork in the early months of 2009 during Gerald McCarthy's reign.
Waterford replied with a goal of their own when full-forward Hurney got away from his marker Killian Cronin and struck home after a powerful run.
Points from Jamie Nagle (0-2), John Mullane and Stephen Molumphy stretched the visitors' lead and two more points from free-taker Kelly had eight between the sides.
Hurney's second goal, just after the break, and Kelly's sixth point of the day maintained the one-way traffic.
But Walsh's changes at least made the game competitive and both sides can take heart from aspects of their performance.