Cork 0-23 Waterford 1-17

Cork booked their place in the final of the Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21HC as they surged past Waterford in the last quarter at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Wednesday evening.

With five players who had featured in this year’s senior provincial championship against none for Waterford, the Rebels were heavily fancied but they were subjected to a strong challenge from their visitors, who seized the initiative thanks to a ninth-minute goal from John Paul Lucey.

That made 1-02 to 0-02 for Waterford, who had the wind behind them, and they were five ahead after Andrew Casey and Neil Montgomery had points. Cork sought to find a way back but goalkeeper Billy Nolan – who had earlier saved from Shane Kingston – and corner-back Darragh Lynch combined to repel a Michael O’Halloran effort.

While Declan Dalton’s frees brought Cork back closer to Waterford, the lead was still a goal, 1-08 to 0-08, at half-time and Lucey and Darragh Lyons had early second-half points for the Déise.

However, Cork were much improved and five points in seven minutes had them level at 0-13 to 1-10, with sub Daire Connery impressing while Darragh Fitzgibbon and Billy Hennessy were also to the fore.

Jack Prendergast and goalkeeper Nolan had frees as Waterford moved in front again and sub Iarlaith Daly replied when Jack O’Connor and Kingston levelled again, but it was the last time they were to lead.

When Fitzgibbon tied matters once more, another senior star, Mark Coleman, put Cork in front for the first time and they got stronger as the end neared.

They will face either Tipperary or Limerick, again at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the final on July 04.

Cork: Ger Collins; David Lowney, David Griffin, Niall O’Leary; Eoghan Murphy, Mark Coleman (0-01), Billy Hennessy; Chris O’Leary, Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-03); Robbie O’Flynn, Declan Dalton (0-08 frees), Michael O’Halloran; Liam Healy (0-02), Shane Kingston (0-2), Jack O’Connor (0-02).

Subs: Daire Connery (0-02) for O’Halloran (36), Conor Cahalane (0-01) for O’Leary (44), Liam O’Shea for O’Connor (60).

Waterford: Billy Nolan (0-03 frees); John Curran, Mikey Daykin, Darragh Lynch; Conor Prunty (0-01), Jordan Henley, Garry Cullinane; Andrew Casey (0-02), Mikey Mahony; Darragh Lyons (0-01), John Paul Lucey (1-02), Neil Montgomery (0-01); Eddie Meaney, Jack Prendergast (0-04 frees), Peter Hogan (0-01).

Subs: Ian Beecher for Casey (42), Iarlaith Daly (0-1) for Montgomery (54), Calum Lyons (0-01) for Lynch (49), Harry Ruddle for Meaney (60).

Referee: John McCormack (Tipperary).