Cork got their Littlewoods Ireland Division One camogie league campaign off to a winning start at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The Rebels lined out without the retired Aoife Murray, with Gemma O'Connor, Orla Cotter, Julia White and the Mackay (Katrina and Pamela) sisters, also marked absent.
But the one boost was the return of Ashling Thompson who showed she hasn't lost her appetite for the game and played a key part in their win.
Others to impress included Orla Cronin, Linda Collins, Laura Hayes and new captain Amy O'Connor.
Waterford can't be faulted with Beth Carton the pick of their side.
Waterford started the brighter of the two teams, with Carton putting them in front from a free in the first minute and she added a second to double their lead, They could have had a goal in the third minute when Caoimhe McGrath played Orla Hickey in, but Amy Lee was quickly off her line to avert any danger.
Cork started to settle and Orla Cronin got the home side off the mark in the fourth minute and a minute later a massive cheer went up from the crowd.
The returning Thompson turned and off her left side struck the sliothar between the posts to show what Cork missed when she took a year out last year.
With six minutes gone Cork took a firm grip on the game, when Linda Collins set up Saoirse McCarthy for their opening goal and a minute later they should have had a second.
This time McCarthy turned provider for Collins but a last ditch tackle denied her.
Cronin added a point from a free with Carton replying at the other end and she got her fourth, from a 45, to make it 1-4 to 0-4, with 13 minutes gone.
Cork responded in style with Cliona Healy, Cronin, Thompson all pointing to make it 1-7 to 0-4.
Ashling Power and Carton reduced the deficit, with Collins keepoint Cork in control.
With 28 minutes gone Waterford should have had a goal, when Catriona McGlone's initial effort was batted out, but with the goal at her mercy Niamh Rockett shot wide.
Cronin increased Cork's lead, before Rockett pulled a point back for Waterford.
Healy added another for the Rebels with Carton getting the last score of the half as Cork led 1-10 to 0-8 at half-time.
The second-half saw both sides tiring, with Collins and Cronin pointing early to stretch Cork's lead. Carton hit two frees to keep Waterford in contention, as the Rebels lead 1-12 to 0-10 after 36 minutes.
Cronin pointed from a free, before Waterford missed another goal chance, this time Caoimhe McGrath shooting wide from in front of goal.
They seemed destined not to goal when another effort, this time from Carton was taken off the line by Thompson.
Chloe Sigerson struck a magnificent long range point for the Rebels from a free, with Cronin adding two more, to make it 1-17 to 0-11 with time running out.
Carton pointed from a free and fittingly O'Connor got the last score to round off a great start to her reign as the Cork captain as the Rebels ran out deserving winners 1-19 to 0-12.
Scorers for Cork: S McCarthy 1-0, O Cronin 0-9 (5f), A Thompson, C Healy, L Collins 0-2 each, L Homan, C Sigerson (f), A O'Connor 0-1 each.
Waterford: B Carton 0-10 (6f, 2 from 45s), A Power, N Rockett 0-1 each.
CORK: A Lee; L O'Sullivan, L Treacy, N O'Callaghan; H Looney, L Hayes, C Sigerson; L Coppinger, A Thompson; A O'Connor, O Cronin, S McCarthy; L Homan, L Collins, C Healy.
Subs: A O'Neill for L O'Sullivan, E Murphy for C Healy (both 50m), C O'Sullivan for L Hayes, I O'Regan for A Thompson, H O'Leary for L Collins (all 60m).
WATERFORD: B O'Regan; K McMahon, I Heffernan, C Whyte; S Harney, S Curran, L Bray; C McGrath, J McCarthy; C McGlone, F Morrissey, N Rockett; O Hickey, B Carton, A Power.
Subs: K Corbett Barry for K McMahon (33m), A Landers for F Morrissey (40m), C Griffin for J McCarthy (48m), C Murphy for O Hickey (55m).
Ref: Ray Kelly, Kildare.