Cork had to dig deep but inspired by Orla Cronin they produced a trademark improved second-half showing to finally see off Waterford by 2-10 to 0-7 the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship.
The finishing margin was flattering to the champions but they showed all their experience and squad depth to pull clear in the final quarter.
In a game played in horrible conditions, with a strong wind and driving rain, the hosts gave their brave supporters plenty to shout about in the first half, giving them hope that a famous victory might be in the offing with a resolute defensive effort.
Beth Carton made light of the elements that were far from conducive to clean striking, by converting five frees to put Donal O’Rourke’s team 0-6 to 0-4 ahead at the break.
The teams were level four times in the first 20 minutes as Carton exchanged scores with Orla Cotter, and then with Orla Cronin. Cronin pushed Cork ahead for the first time but Áine Lyng responded with Waterford’s first score from play.
It was the home side that had the better of the second quarter once Gemma O’Connor edged the Rebels in front once more. It was the Carton show for the remainder of the half, as she split the posts three times from placed balls to give Waterford that two-point interval advantage.
Cronin had a brace of points to restore parity within two minutes and the teams were still inseparable at the three-quarter mark when the Enniskeane sharpshooter sent a shot to the top corner of the net that gave Brianna O’Regan no chance between the posts.
Niamh McCarthy’s injury-time goal was harsh on Waterford, who will now play Galway in the All-Ireland quarter-final at Semple Stadium on August 3rd, with Tipperary and Limerick also doing battle.
Cork and fellow group winners Kilkenny qualify directly to in the All-Ireland semi-finals, which will take place on August 17.