Rory O'Connor maintained his sensational form as he delivered 1-12 to help Wexford leapfrog Cork in the Group A rankings following this absorbing closing-round Allianz Hurling League clash in Wexford town.
With both sides already certain of qualification, only the matter of placings mattered, and Wexford’s flying start propelled them clear by 1-13 to 0-08 at the interval before withstanding an improved Cork challenge en route to landing a semi-final against neighbours Waterford, while Cork face Kilkenny.
Wexford’s feverish start belied the dead-rubber nature of the fixture as they shot clear by 1-03 to no score inside five minutes.
Rory O’Connor’s goal crowned their bright opening, as he gathered a long Damien Reck delivery ahead of Niall O’Leary and kicked to the empty net as 'keeper Ger Collins dashed out in a vain effort to thwart the hot attacker.
Cork rested a chunk of players, but still fielded four of last year’s All-Ireland Senior finalists and five All-Ireland Under-20 winners.
Shane Kingston steadied Cork with a couple of pointed frees, and after Diarmuid O’Keeffe responded, the Rebels twice went dangerously close with goal opportunities.
Firstly, full-forward Alan Connolly fed Conor Lehane, who was denied at the expense of a fruitless ‘65, before Kingston saw his angled effort fly across the face of goal in the ninth minute.
Despite cries from Cork supporters for their charges to "wake up", Wexford reasserted their lead by 1-10 to 0-04 after 19 minutes with O’Connor (3), teenager Corey Byrne-Dunbar, Conor McDonald and Oisín Foley prospering.
But a chain of four Wexford wides offered Cork some hope as Conor Lehane (2), defender Robert Downey and Kingston (free) narrowed the margin to 1-13 to 0-08 at half-time.
The Cork management’s obvious dissatisfaction with their charges’ exploits was reflected in three personnel changes for the new half.
And Wexford were lacking the same zip on the restart as the opposition made serious inroads, closing to within 1-14 to 0-14 after 55 minutes courtesy of Alan Connolly, Lehane (4) and Mark Keane.
The locals emerged from their slumber to establish telling daylight at 1-22 to 0-16 on 65 minutes, with defender Paudie Foley producing an audacious strike just 30 yards from his own end-line while Rory O’Connor (4), McDonald and Liam Óg McGovern also chipped in.
Cork couldn’t be silenced though as they steadfastly refused to throw in the towel, going close with a number of late attempts to rescue the tie before having to settle for second best.
Wexford: Mark Fanning; Simon Donohoe, Liam Ryan, Conor Devitt; Paudie Foley (0-01), Kevin Foley, Damien Reck; Diarmuid O’Keeffe (0-01), Cathal Dunbar; Liam Óg McGovern (0-01), Oisín Foley (0-02), Jack O’Connor (0-01); Rory O’Connor (1-12, 0-5 frees, 0-1 ‘65), Conor McDonald (0-02), Corey Byrne-Dunbar (0-01).
Subs: Mikie Dwyer for Byrne-Dunbar (48), Charlie McGuckin J O’Connor (55), Oisín Pepper for Dunbar (60), Connal Flood for Devitt (65), Conor Hearne for R O’Connor (69).
Cork: Ger Collins; Damien Cahalane, Daire O’Leary, Niall O’Leary; Seán O’Leary-Hayes, Ciarán Joyce (0-02, 1 ‘65), Robert Downey (0-02); Brian Roche, Luke Meade (0-01); Seamus Harnedy, Shane Barrett, Seán Twomey; Shane Kingston (0-03 frees), Alan Connolly (1-01), Conor Lehane (0-6, 3 frees).
Subs: Sam Quirke for Roche (HT), Mark Keane (0-1) for Harnedy (HT), Conor Cahalane for Twomey (HT), Jack O’Connor (0-1) for Kingston (45), Robbie O’Flynn for Barrett (64).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)