Twelve points separated the sides by the finish, and while it could have been greater but for looser Cork shooting, the early indications were that the hosts might prove sticky opponents for their fancied visitors.
A pair of Gavin Crotty points had them off to a good start inside three minutes, but they would not score again in the first half while Cork found their feet and had nine points on the board by the interval.
Cork had 11 different scorers, with Cathal Vaughan’s place-kicking perfect. Micheál Ó Laoire ruled the skies at midfield alongside captain Ruairí Deane and Colm O’Driscoll was a livewire at wing-forward while Seán Kiely got forward well too.
Once Cork got in front through points from Colm O’Driscoll and Vaughan (two), they looked far sharper.
A fine Vaughan free from the right in the 25th minute put Cork 0-7 to 0-2 ahead, and while that seemed to invite a licence to attempt Hollywood points, an excellent individual effort from AJ O’Connor ensured the scoreboard ticked over.
Just before half-time, Lynch added another when he was unlucky not to find the net, and Cork led by nine before Brian Phelan ended Waterford’s scoring drought.
A full-blown comeback was never in prospect, however, and Deane could have put things to bed only to fire over.
The goal did come with 11 minutes left, centre-back Rory O’Sullivan rounding off a move involving brothers Colm and Kevin O’Driscoll to make it 1-16 to 0-5. David Power, Stephen Prendergast and John Wall had late Waterford points and Phelan hit the crossbar after a scramble, but it was always Cork’s night.
Cork play the Great Britain representatives early next month in the last four.
Scorers for Cork: C Vaughan 0-6 (five frees), F Lynch 0-4, Rory O’Sullivan 1-0, M Ó Laoire, C O’Driscoll, AJ O’Connor, R Deane, D Harrington, K O’Driscoll, M Vaughan, M Sugrue 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: J Wall (frees), G Crotty, D Power 0-2 each, B Phelan, S Prendergast, D Grey 0-1 each.
CORK: D Hanrahan; AJ O’Connor, E O’Mahony, K Harrington; Richard O’Sullivan, Rory O’Sullivan, S Kiely; R Deane, M Ó Laoire; C Vaughan, K O’Driscoll, C O’Driscoll; E Buckley, F Lynch, D Harrington.
Subs: M Vaughan for Buckley (half-time), P Daly for O’Mahony, M Sugrue for Harrington (both 53), S Hickey for C Vaughan, J Cronin for O’Connor (both 55).
WATERFORD: T Wall; P Crowley, B Prendergast, S Lannon; J O’Mahony, E Rockett, R Hennessy; B Phelan, S Prendergast; D Guiry, B McGarr, D Grey; J Wall, G Crotty, D Power.
Subs: S Bourke for O’Mahony (24), R Ó Ceallaigh for Prendergast (half-time), C Guiry for McGarr (40), C O’Shea for Power, M Curry for D Guiry (both 51).
Referee: S Joy (Kerry).