Emily O’Donoghue and Erinn Curtin were on fire for Cork, who turned the tables on a Waterford team that had beaten them in the group stages and in the process, claimed a fourth Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor A camogie title in five attempts at UPMC Nowlan Park.
The Leesiders had only bagged their first title in 2018 but have won every championship since bar one, with the 2020 renewal lost to Covid.
In contrast, Waterford were appearing in their first final and perhaps that was a factor, as a slow start with the wind at their backs proved significant. They never gave up but Laoise Forrest’s goal in the fourth minute of injury time came too late for them to make history and to deny Cork.
O’Donoghue, who finished with 1-5, set the tone early on as she nabbed a wonderfully instinctive goal in the sixth minute, having initially created an opportunity for Ciara Morrison. The Bishopstown fulcrum followed up her jabbed finish with a well-struck free.
Amy Sheppard floated over a delightful point and when the lively Curtin nailed a stupendous score from an almost impossible angle, the first of four points from play for the right corner-forward, it was looking very good for the Rebels.
Maggie Gostl was Waterford’s most threatening player, scoring seven points and having a hand in a couple more. She drilled a 45 over the black spot to get them off the mark in the 14th minute and they settled into the fray from there.
Gostl finished the half with four points and won a brilliant dirty ball to set up Eimear O’Neill for another.
But Sheppard, O’Donoghue, Curtin – with another outstanding finish after the latest of a number of interceptions by Laura Dunlea – and Amy McCarthy found the target at the other end, making it 1-7 to 0-5 at half-time.
While Mark English would have been pleased to see his crew play themselves into the game, they would have hoped for better having had the elements in their favour.
They upped the intensity in the second half though and had half a goal chance from the opening attack. Niamh Halley’s shot was deflected out for a 45 but Gostl slotted the resultant placed ball.
The De La Salle teenager gave the Déise’s supporters tremendous hope when converting a free after she had been fouled herself but Waterford couldn’t get closer than three as they pursued a first ever title at this level.
Gostl’s opposing full-forward O’Donoghue extended the margin once more with her own brace but a Gostl block set up a delightful point for O’Neill and Gostl then made no mistake from a free on the left making it a one-score game again with 12 minutes of regulation time left.
But Jerry Wallace’s squad always kept their gutsy opponents at arm’s length. Curtin provided two more very neat finishes and O’Donoghue, whose twin Caoimhe also played very well before going off late on, put six between them.
True to type, Waterford kept fighting, Forrest and Kate Fennessy swapping points, but Forrest’s goal came too late and it was Cork’s day.
SCORERS FOR CORK: E O’Donoghue 1-5 (0-2fs); E Curtin 0-4; A Sheppard 0-2; A McCarthy, K Fennessy 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR WATERFORD: M Gostl 0-7 (3 45s, 2fs); E O’Neill 0-2; L Forrest 1-1(f)
CORK: C Lane, M de Búrca, S Hurley, C O’Donoghue, O Cremin, L Dunlea, E Duignan, M Condon, A Fitzgerald, A Sheppard, C Morrison, A McCarthy, E Curtin, E O’Donoghue, N McNabola. Subs: B O’Shaughnessy for McNabola (44), K Fennessy for Morrison (53), E Crowley for C O’Donoghue (58), A O’Sullivan for Sheppard ((60+3)
WATERFORD: K Gardner, A Healy, M Buck, J Kirwan, F Murphy, L Forrest, L Harty, B Bowdren, C Sherlock, E O’Neill, N Halley, A McNulty, E Fitzgerald, M Gostl, K Obanya. Subs: O Walsh for Obanya (28), H McGrath for Halley (45), K Lyons for Walsh (57)
REFEREE: Aaron Hogg (Clare)