Cork 3-16 Waterford 3-16
A controversial injury-time free from Eoin Kelly rescued Waterford from what would have been a heartbreaking defeat to Cork in the second of today’s All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals at Croke Park.
Waterford, the National League and Munster champions, led by five points during the first half with Dan Shanahan notching a trademark goal.
Four Joe Deane points helped Cork get back on level terms by half-time at 0-10 to 1-7.
The sides swapped goals through Paul Flynn and Neil Ronan (penalty) during the early stages of the second half, Waterford maintained their advantage but as the clock ticked on wides began to blight the Deise’s play.
Cork, for whom Sean Óg O'hAilpín was in colossal form, snuck through for two more goals - Kieran Murphy from Sarsfields batted home in the 61st-minute and Ronan netted on the rebound five minutes later - and a Kevin Hartnett point pushed Gerald McCarthy’s men into a 3-16 to 2-15 lead.
It looked like it might be game over for Waterford but Stephen Molumphy tapped home to the net in the 69th-minute, reacting well after a brilliant save by Donal Og Cusack from a Flynn shot.
With time running out and Cork 3-16 to 3-15 ahead, Waterford carved out another goal-scoring chance as Eoin McGrath meandered through the Rebels defence before unleashing a fierce shot.
Cusack produced another top drawer save to deny McGrath and also got across to smother Flynn’s shot on the rebound but as players converged on the Cork goalkeeper, referee Brian Gavin ruled that Cusack had fouled the ball and Kelly stepped up to send this gripping semi-final to a replay.
The arch rivals, who met in an epic Munster semi-final last month and were tussling today for the ninth time in the championship since 1999, made no late changes to the teams selected during the week.
Lining out for the sixth time this summer thanks to their involvement in the qualifiers, Cork were hit with a sucker punch in the 10th minute when Shanahan drove home a superb goal to the bottom right corner of the Cork net.
The big Lismore clubman, who scored 5-4 in his previous two games, then swept over one of the points of the championship from almost the front row of the Hogan Stand and Waterford were 1-5 to 0-3 ahead.
Waterford began the game in determined fashion with livewire Molumphy pointing after only 20 seconds. Deane levelled two minutes later before Waterford missed a series of chances with John Mullane being blocked, Shanahan wayward from an acute angle and Kelly hitting another wide.
Centre-back Ken McGrath, who was immense throughout, showed his forwards how it is done in the fifth-minute by launching over a monster of a free.
Cork fought back to level through Deane and Neil Ronan cancelled out a Mullane point on the run before the Deise put their foot on the pedal and motored five points clear.
A Molumphy point was followed by Shanahan's rapid-fire haul of 1-1 and the tide seemed to be turning further in Waterford's favour when goalkeeper Clinton Hennessy made a deft double save to prevent a Cork goal.
Cork were struggling to hit top gear although Ben O'Connor, from a '65', and Tom Kenny, who showed great pace and poise to point off his left, kept the 2005 champions in touch with well-taken points.
O'hAilpin raised Cork hopes with a inspirational point, O'Connor and Deane added further scores and the Rebels squared up the tie at 0-9 to 1-6 in the 29th-minute when O'Connor pointed a free he won himself.
A Ken McGrath free ended a scoreless spell for Waterford that had lasted 15 minutes and Mullane was unfortunate when his overhead effort marginally missed the mark.
But Waterford were giving away frees in scoreable positions and Deane's 35th-minute placed ball levelled the sides for the fifth time shortly before the half-time whistle.
Having failed to feature in the first half, Paul Flynn really announced himself in this semi-final when he fastened onto a Molumphy pass and sent a scorching shot off the turf and past the dive of Cusack, just 18 seconds into the second period.
Waterford pushed four points ahead when Shanahan flung over a score from the left but they were never truly out of sight and Cork got an ideal chance to reply when Kieran Murphy was brought down by McGrath for a penalty.
Neil Ronan stepped up to rip a powerful shot to the net and make it a one-point game at 2-8 to 1-10. Kelly and O'hAilpin then traded scores with the latter's point coming after neat link-up play between Cusack, Jerry O'Connor and substitute Niall McCarthy.
Points from Kelly and Flynn sandwiched a Jerry O'Connor score as Waterford kept their heads above water, leading by 2-11 to 1-12 as the game entered its final quarter.
Ronan and Kelly both raised further white flags as the intensity heightened. Deane registered his fifth point of the afternoon on 56 minutes only for Flynn to take his tally to 1-2 - all of which came in the second half - three minutes later.
Nonetheless, a wastefulness suddenly came into Waterford's play with captain Michael Walsh and centre-back McGrath hitting some poor wides. Almost immediately, Cork began to show the type of finishing which won them two All-Irelands in 2004 and 2005.
Murphy instinctively hared onto a loose ball that Ronan had scooped up and the Sarsfields clubman showed great improvisation to bat the ball tennis-style to the Waterford net as McGrath looked to hook him.
Cork were ahead and growing in confidence. Seamus Prendergast brought them back down to earth with a point before John Gardiner stepped up to bisect the uprights for the Rebels.
Shanahan, who had been starved of ball for much of the second half, popped up on the left wing to draw over a superb point to draw the sides level again and a replay looked on the cards.
Cork though had no such thoughts and a fantastic run and shot from the marauding Kenny ended with Ronan goaling on the rebound to put Cork three points clear.
Substitute Kevin Hartnett made it four and Waterford were on the cusp of bowing out of the All-Ireland championship to Cork for the third successive year.
But Molumphy and Kelly had other ideas and the sides will have to do it all again next weekend at Croke Park in what will be their fifth encounter in league or championship this year.
Incredibly, Cork are still to break their duck as Waterford have won three of the previous four matches, two in the league and the Munster semi-final.
Scorers: Cork: N Ronan 2-2, J Deane 0-5, B O'Connor 0-3, S Og O'hAilpin 0-2, T Kenny, J O'Connor, J Gardiner, K Hartnett 0-1 each. Waterford: D Shanahan 1-3, S Molumphy, P Flynn 1-2 each, E Kelly 0-4, K McGrath, J Mullane 0-2 each, S Prendergast 0-1
CORK: D Og Cusack; S O'Neill, D O'Sullivan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, R Curran, S Óg O'hAilpín; T Kenny, J O'Connor; B O'Connor, T McCarthy, P Cronin; N Ronan, K Murphy (Sarsfields), J Deane (capt).
Subs used: N McCarthy for T McCarthy, K Hartnett for J O'Connor, C Naughton for N McCarthy.
WATERFORD: C Hennessy; E Murphy, D Prendergast, J Murray; T Browne, K McGrath, A Kearney; M Walsh (capt), E Kelly; J Kennedy, S Prendergast, P Flyynn; J Mullane, D Shanahan, S Molumphy.
Subs used: E McGrath for Kennedy, B Phelan for Murray.
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly)