A record attendance for a Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship final and an individual performance for the ages from Amy O'Connor made it a memorable afternoon at Croke Park as Cork returned to the top in style.

Truth be told, the Rebels probably had their 29th title, and their first since 2018, in the bag by half-time after a brilliant first-half.

But it turned out their best was still to come and team captain O'Connor took things up a couple of notches with a superb hat-trick in the space of just over two minutes after the restart.

She finished with 3-07 and made the job of selecting the Player of the Match particularly easy. The record crowd of 30,191 certainly received good value.

Former Down player Sorcha McCartan, son of Mourne football great Greg McCartan, and Fiona Keating registered the other goals while Cork's defence stood firm, conceding just four points from play in the 60 or so minutes.

There can be no doubts about just who the best camogie team in Ireland is right now with Cork dethroning holders Kilkenny at the quarter-final stage before taking out 2021 winners Galway and then delivering this spectacular performance on final day.

For Waterford, the learning continues. It will be a difficult defeat to take but having qualified for a breakthrough semi-final spot in 2022, and gone a step further this year, reaching their first final since 1945, there is no reason why their graph can't keep trending upwards.

How Waterford could have done with the terrific start they enjoyed against Cork when the sides met at the semi-final stage last year.

They held the Rebels scoreless for much of the opening half that day and were four up at half-time.

This time around, they leaked the opening four scores of the game and were on the back foot from the off.

Cork memorably escaped last year against Waterford but another slow start in the final against Kilkenny cost them dearly and they were perhaps wary of any repeat.

They ran hard at the Waterford defence initially, winning a series of frees that O'Connor and Chloe Sigerson comfortably converted.

Waterford lost corner-back Vikki Falconer to an early injury. When they reset, they had Ali Smith marking McCartan, Kate Lynch on Katrina Mackey and Keeley Corbett Barry on O'Connor.

Beth Carton was Waterford's principal attacker at the other end and she struck their opening score in the 15th minute, punching the air in delight and hoping for a response from her colleagues.

But it only served to fire Cork up who reeled off 1-03 without response to put themselves in a terrific position with a 1-07 to 0-01 lead.

The scores came so much easier to an experienced and powerful Cork side.

In the 22nd minute, for example, Waterford moved heaven and earth to create a half goal chance when Niamh Rockett put a hopeful ball across the danger area which Lorraine Bray challenged for.

But the danger was easily dealt with by Cork who immediately turned defence into attack and pointed through Hannah Looney.

McCartan struck her goal in the 25th minute, opening up a nine-point lead at that stage and leaving Waterford with it all to do.

Katrina Mackey did the spade work down the left for the goal with a searing run before offloading across the goalmouth to McCartan who volleyed in from close range.

McCartan later closed out Cork's first-half scoring with a slick point off her left under pressure from a Waterford defender, albeit with the help of a Hawk-Eye adjudication.

Waterford were awarded a penalty just before the break for a foul by Libby Coppinger on Annie Fitzgerald but Carton couldn't convert and winced as the sliotar flew past Amy Lee's right upright and wide.

With a 1-09 to 0-03 half-time lead, Cork already had one hand on the O'Duffy Cup and O'Connor put the game to bed in that remarkable period of goal-scoring early in the second-half.

O'Connor's first goal arrived in the 33rd minute when fed by Fiona Keating. McCartan set up O'Connor's next one with a clever kick into space and Katrina Mackey was the provider for the third.

Waterford were stunned to suddenly find themselves trailing by 0-03 to 4-09 and while things opened up for them with a series of points from Carton, Niamh Rockett and a late Laoise Forrest point, they were all consolation scores at that stage.

Keating struck Cork's fifth goal in the 50th minute when she burst through and finished off a fine solo run by shortening the stick and striking to the net.

Experienced star Ashling Thompson, who returned to the panel during the Championship after a cruciate late off, was among the five subs that Cork manager Matthew Twomey introduced.

Cork: Amy Lee; Libby Coppinger, Meabh Cahalane, Pamela Mackey; Aoife Healy, Laura Treacy, Izzy O'Regan; Laura Hayes, Hannah Looney (0-01); Chloe Sigerson (0-01, 0-01f), Fiona Keating (1-00), Saoirse McCarthy; Amy O'Connor (3-07, 5f, 1'45), Katrina Mackey (0-02), Sorcha McCartan (1-01).

Subs: Cliona Healy for Hayes (45), Orla Cronin for McCartan (47), Ashling Thompson for McCarthy (51), Orlaith Cahalane (0-01) for Sigerson (52), Meabh Mulcahy for Pamela Mackey (53).

Waterford: Brianna O'Regan; Laoise Forrest (0-01), Kate Lynch, Keeley Corbett Barry; Clodagh Carroll, Orla Hickey, Vikki Falconer; Abby Flynn, Lorraine Bray; Mairead O'Brien, Mairead Power, Beth Carton (0-07, 5f); Rachael Walsh, Niamh Rockett (0-01), Annie Fitzgerald.

Subs: Iona Heffernan for Falconer (5), Bevin Bowdren for Power (ht), Tara Power for O'Brien (41), Clara Griffin for Carroll (42), Shauna Fitzgerald for Lynch (54).

Referee: John Dermody (Westmeath).