It was a result that didn’t look remotely likely early on, as the sides were level five times in the opening half. But the Leesiders went to town on Waterford in the second half, and the title was in safe keeping long before the final whistle.
Cork had many stars. Anthony Nash was a competent goalkeeper, ably fronted by team captain Dara McSweeney, John Carey and Ross Cashman.
Eoin Dillon and Leigh Desmond lorded it at midfield while up front Stephen Moylan, Mark O’Sullivan, Maurice O’Sullivan and Luke Farrell scored freely.
Waterford played with the aid of the strong wind in the opening half but it was Cork who made the better start with a Luke Farrell point after just 30 seconds.
Cork were quickly into their stride and had the better of the early exchanges. Farrell should have goaled in the fourth minute with only the Waterford ‘keeper to beat but failed to strike the sliotar.
The dominance of Mark O’Sullivan at centre forward meant the pressure on the Waterford defence was immense, and the Dripsey man helped himself to two excellent points which helped the home side into an 0-4 to 0-2 lead after 10 minutes.
Given they had the advantage of the wind, surprisingly the Waterford full-forward line played too far out from the Cork goal which gave Nash time to clear his lines.
However his credentials were tested in the 12th minute when Patrick Hurney raced clear, but the Kanturk man made a superb save and it sparked off a tremendous scoring burst by Cork. In the space of four minutes the lethal Cork forwards scored 2-3 without reply, to lead 2-10 to 0-7 after 25 minutes.
Stephen Moylan led the scoring burst with two points, before Desmond was on the end of a great passing movement to finish to the net.
On the puck-out Cork were back again this time for Mark O’Sullivan to goal after Rory Dwyer set him up and the title looked destined for Leeside for the sixth time in this decade.
However, Waterford weren’t quite ready to give up the chase and a goal by Jamie Kearney gave them hope. But at the other end, they were grateful to keeper Ian O’Regan who saved superbly from Luke Farrell and at the break, Cork were comfortably in front at 2-11 to 1-7.
Waterford threatened to make a game of it on the changeover when Hurney slipped home a goal in the 36th minute but it was only a token score.
Cork’s pace and skill were key factors, and they nipped any threatened recovery by the Decies men with goals by Maurice O’Sullivan and Lorcan McLoughlin which helped them into a 4-15 to 2-8 lead by the three quarter stage.
Waterford’s cause wasn’t helped by the loss of full-back John O’Leary to a red card, and Cork finished with a litany of points to regain a title they last won in 2006.
Scorers for Cork: Maurice O’Sullivan 2-3; L Desmond 1-7 (0-5 frees, 0-1 65); Mark O’Sullivan 1-2; S Moylan 0-5; L Farrell 0-3; L O’Loughlin 1-0; R Dwyer 0-1, B Ring (free), J Jordan 0-1 each.
Waterford: D Howard 1-1; B Hannon 0-4 (frees); J Kearney, P Hurney 1-0 each; P Fitzgerald 0-2; P, Kearney, L Lawlor 0-1 each.
CORK: A Nash; B Coleman, D McSweeney, B Murphy; J Carey, R Cashman, J O’Leary; E Dillon, L Desmond; R Dwyer, Mark O’Sullivan, L McLoughlin; Maurice O’Sullivan, L Farrell, S Moylan.
Subs: J Jordan for Cashman (40); E Clancy for B Murphy (50); A Mannix for Dwyer (55); B Ring for Farrell (55).
WATERFORD: I O’Regan; B Wall, J O’Leary, K Flynn; J Coffey, S Kearney, W Henley; D Murphy, P Fitzgerald; P Nurney, D Howard, J Kearney; B Hannon, L Lawlor, P Kearney.
Subs: R Power for D Murphy (40); P Molumphy for Henley (52); S Hannon for P Kearney (55); D Hickey for J Kearney (55).
Referee: N Cosgrove (Tipperary)
lCORK will play Galway on August 8