Wonderful Waterford roared to a commanding 1-21 to 1-11 victory over Cork in front of 3,765 spectators at Pairc Ui Rinn tonight.
Man of the Match Shane Bennett (who finished his Leaving Certificate at 5pm this evening and bagged 1-4 from wing back), Patrick Curran (0-12) and Tadhg De Búrca excelled for the victors but this was a superb all-round team effort as Waterford claimed their first victory in this competition since 2009 to set up a provincial semi-final date with defending All-Ireland champions Clare in Ennis on July 15th.
With nine members of the 2013 All-Ireland MHC-winning squad on their starting XV and seven of the Na Deise senior team that dumped the Rebels out of the Munster SHC at Thurles earlier this month, Derek Lyons' charges gradually forced a stranglehold on the game and registered seven of the last eight points of the first half to turn a 0-5 to 0-2 deficit into a 0-9 to 0-6 interval advantage.
With the breeze behind them, Damien Irwin's men had started purposefully but Waterford flexed their considerable muscle more and more as the opening period unfolded. Five of their first-half scores came from Curran placed balls and centre back De Búrca pulled the strings, while both sides were guilty of some wayward shooting before the short whistle sounded.
Rebels midfielder Martin Brennan opened the scoring with a sweet strike from play and wing forward Kevin O'Neill followed suit as the hosts led by two points inside as many minutes.
Ballysaggart's Shane Bennett crept forward from left half back to open the visitors' account in the fourth minute. But that score was cancelled out when Mark O'Connor (free) was happy to take his point after Killian O'Connor was felled in front of the posts.
DJ Foran and Fermoy clubman Brennan traded points as the Leesiders led by double scores after ten minutes, 0-4 to 0-2. Hunting in ravenous packs early on, determined Cork overturned possession and created an opening for Luke Meade and the Newcestown clubman made no mistake; Waterford replied with a routine Curran free and a nonchalant '65' from the same player and Ryan Donnelly finally tied the scores up for the first and only time with a popshot after the favourites had recorded a series of worrying sides.
Curran's third point (free) had the Suirsiders ahead for the first time in the 20th minute and Shane Bennett drilled over their fifth successive score from deep inside his own half 60 seconds later. A simple Curran free made it 8-5 with seven minutes left before the break.
A beautiful O'Connor free from the right wing finally put an end to Na Deise's six-point scoring streak. But some poor Cork shooting was punished by another machine-like Curran free as the victors led by three at the interval.
The Rebels started the second half on the front foot with a point from half-time substitute David Geary but senior star Austin Gleeson replied instantly. Gleeson had the sliothar in the net but play was called back for a free-in, which Curran converted. Shane Bennett's third score made it 0-12 to 0-7 after 33.
With selectors John Mullane and Tony Browne urging wind-aided Waterford on from the sideline, it was mostly one-way traffic now. Brennan smashed his third point into the teeth of the wind and over the bar but Stephen Bennett responded immediately before Curran notched his first point from play and seventh in total to leave six between them. Mark O'Connor measured a Cork free to perfection and home goalkeeper Patrick Collins stood up to deny Waterford corner back Shane McNulty a goal after Curran (free) had added to his rising tally.
Cork centre back and captain Conor Twomey from Newtownshandrum nailed a free but Curran replied with his second from play, which meant that six points separated the teams at the three-quarters stage. Curran's tenth widened the gulf and a brilliant Shane Bennett point - his fourth - effectively settled the game as a contest: 0-18 to 0-12 with twelve minutes remaining.
Colin Dunford and Geary flashed over scores at either end; Curran bagged his third from play and Meade slotted a beautiful consolation Cork goal between the advancing Billy Nolan's legs after turning his man in the 57th minute. Almost immediately at the other end, Man of the Match Bennett kicked the Waterford goal with an improvided roundhouse swipe of the right boot, having seen his initial effort saved on the line. Curran provided the last score as a strong Na Deise side advanced to the last four in the province and a mouthwatering clash with the Banner.
Waterford - B Nolan; S McNulty, K Bennett, C Gleeson; M Harney, T De Burca, Shane Bennett (1-4); A Gleeson (0-1), T Devine; C Dunford (0-1), Stephen Bennett (0-1), DJ Foran (0-1); R Donnelly (0-1), D Lyons, P Curran (0-12, 7f, 1'65). Subs: M Kearney for R Donnelly, Cathal Curran for M Harney, B Phelan for DJ Foran, B O'Sullivan for Shane Bennett.
Cork - P Collins; D Browne; A Dennehy, S O'Donoghue; D Noonan, C Twomey (0-1f), N Cashman; R Cahalane, M Brennan (0-3); K O'Neill (0-1), K O'Connor, D Casey; M O'Connor (0-3f), A Spillane, L Meade (1-1). Subs: D Geary (0-2) for K O'Connor, D Lee for M O'Connor, K Histon for D Noonan, S Hegarty for A Dennehy.
Referee - F Horgan.