Waterford will face Galway in the All-Ireland senior hurling final after an 11-point victory over Cork at Croke Park which saw them score four goals.
Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh scored the opening goal on just five minutes after Cork had started the brighter, firing through Anthony Nash’s legs after a wonderful ball across from Shane Bennett.
Jamie Barron scored two second-half goals while Austin Gleeson also notched a magnificent solo effort to put the Deise in command.
The sides were level four times in the first-half as it progressed with Patrick Horgan, Kevin Moran and Pauric Mahony all in great form.
The second period swung on a red card for Cork’s Damien Cahalane who picked a second yellow card for a high tackle with the Rebels a point in the lead at the time.
Horgan and Conor Gleeson then received straight red cards late in the second half after appearing to strike each other with their hurleys.
Austin Gleeson could also face a suspension after pulling the helmet off Luke Meade in the first half, while Conor Gleeson is now also in danger of missing out after his second-half dismissal.
The game started at a frenetic pace with over a point per minute being scored and it was Cork who struck first with Horgan firing a couple of early points.
Brick Walsh struck back with the first goal soon after, however, and it was created after some superb play by Waterford full-forward Bennett.
Bennett showed great skill and vision to turn away down the left wing, beat a man and find Walsh with a fabulous ball after the 34-year-old had pulled off Mark Coleman.
For the rest of the half, Horgan consistently scored for Cork while Moran proved instrumental in maintaining Waterford’s lead as they went in at the break one point to the good at 1-7 to 0-9.
The second half started in the same vein with Waterford successfully shackling the likes of Seamus Harnedy, Conor Lehane and Alan Cadogan, but unable to stop the flow of points from Horgan, who ended the game with 12 scores to his name.
The game turned on Damien Cahalane’s red card after 52 minutes, when he caught Conor Gleeson high around the neck, having already received a yellow card, and duly receiving a second one.
Cork responded initially with scores to go two points ahead with 20 minutes remaining but the man advantage was to ultimately tell, as having lost the luxury of an extra defender at the back, Waterford cut them apart in the last 15 minutes.
If Moran had been the star of the first half for Waterford, the second belonged to Austin Gleeson. Peripheral for so much of the game, he created the crucial second goal for Barron, which set in motion the momentum with which the Deise comfortably saw out the match.
Christopher Joyce attempted to travel out of defence for Cork, but Gleeson worked hard to track him to the left corner and with a subtle flick, dislodged the sliotar into open space, regathered it, looked up and found Barron at the back stick, who finished well, driving the ball hard past the onrushing Anthony Nash.
Minutes later and Gleeson grabbed a goal for the ages as he went on a driving run, ignoring the option of Walsh on his outside, to slalom and jink his way past three Cork defenders before finishing coolly in a majestic piece of play.
From there, Waterford succeed in playing the game on their terms, picking off scores and adding gloss to the scoreline when Barron streaked through to notch his second in added time.
Despite the superb result and the welcome availability of Tadhg de Burca for the final, Waterford will now be sweating over possible suspensions for Austin Gleeson, who avoided sanction during the game as the referee missed him taking the helmet off Meade, and Conor Gleeson after he was red carded, along with Cork’s Horgan, for swinging his hurley off the Cork forward’s shins in retaliation.
The All-Ireland hurling final will take place between Galway and Waterford on Sunday, September 3 at Croke Park, and Galway will head into it having never beaten Waterford in a championship match before.