Seamus Harnedy’s late goal helped Cork advance to the Munster final with a thrilling 1-23 to 1-20 victory over Waterford at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
The reigning Munster champions knew a win would be enough to see them through, and avoid any tricky stipulations associated with the other game between Clare and Limerick in Ennis.
They trailed 0-15 to 0-11 at half-time and Tommy Ryan’s second half goal had them in trouble but Cork rallied late on.
Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh broke Brendan Cummins’ record for championship appearances, with his 74th straight game for Waterford here.
It was also potentially his last for his county but Derek McGrath’s men had nothing other than pride to play for after their 2-26 to 1-16 defeat at the hands of Limerick last weekend.
Despite draws against Tipperary and Limerick, Cork had their destiny in their own hands but they were second best for the majority of the first half against the breeze.
Pat Horgan did open the scoring and the Cork full-forward line all registered points inside the opening 12 minutes, but they missed too many opportunities in front of goal.
As their wide count rose Waterford took their chances up the other end and Tommy Ryan was a particular threat, while Brian O’Halloran was the perfect foil, with Pauric Mahony on target from the placed ball.
The sides were level on four occasions in opening quarter before points from Austin Gleeson and Jake Dillon put Waterford in charge.
The Cork wide count would reach eight by half-time and Waterford goalkeeper Ian O’Regan made a smart save to deny Bill Cooper a goal in the 16th minute.
Conor Lehane and Horgan kept Cork in the game but Waterford held a 0-15 to 0-11 interval lead. Mahony had six points by the break while Ryan and O’Halloran scored a couple of points each.
Cork had the ideal start to the second-half when Cooper pointed from distance inside the opening minute. DJ Foran hit back but Cork began to close in.
Mark Coleman’s wonderful sideline brought the deficit back to 0-16 to 0-15, and Horgan levelled proceedings in the 53rd minute.
But ‘Brick’ Walsh provided the final pass for Ryan and his rocket of a shot rifled past Nash into the Cork net.
It was the final act for ‘Brick’ who was substituted directly after, and Waterford were three points clear with 15 minutes remaining.
But Cork fought back again and Harnedy crashed home a goal in the 67th minute, before there were seven minutes of injury-time were signalled.
That gave time for Cooper to draw Cork level before Horgan pushed them in front and they held on.
Cork: Anthony Nash; Sean O’Donoghue, Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane; Christopher Joyce (0-01), Eoin Cadogan, Mark Coleman (0-02, 0-01sl); Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-01), Bill Cooper (0-04); Luke Meade, Conor Lehane (0-03), Daniel Kearney (0-02); Shane Kingston (0-02), Seamus Harnedy (1-03), Pat Horgan (0-05, 0-02f, 0-01 65).
Subs: Conor O’Sullivan for O’Donoghue (45), Michael Cahalane for Meade (61).
Waterford: Ian O’Regan; Ian Kenny, Conor Gleeson, Noel Connors; Michael Walsh, Austin Gleeson (0-01), Philip Mahony; Jamie Barron (0-01), Pauric Mahony (0-08, 0-01 65, 0-04f); Kevin Moran, Colin Dunford, Jake Dillon (0-02); Brian O’Halloran (0-02), Tom Devine (0-01), Tommy Ryan (1-03).
Subs: Seamus Keating for Connors (24), DJ Foran (0-01) for Dillon (40), Stephen Roche for O’Halloran (45), Stephen Bennett for Walsh (55), Maurice Shanahan (0-01) for Bennett (60).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).