Despite being down a man from the 55th minute on, Waterford made it an all-Munster Division 1 final in Croke Park this Sunday with a second-half display full of vim and resilience.
Watched by 13,227 in Nowlan Park, Galway didn’t score between the 49th minutes and the seventh minute of additional time as a combination of their erratic shooting and Waterford’s tenacity sealed their first final since 2016.
After Mikey Kearney picked up his second yellow card, Waterford only went ahead for the first time in the 61st minute via full-back Colm Lyons. Stephen Bennett followed that with a free and Pauric Mahony sent over the first of a personal brace in the 69th minute.
Worryingly for Galway, Joe Canning had to be stretchered off the field after a collision with Kevin Moran as Canning was about to strike for goal. After a lengthy delay, Mahony pointed again and scores by Davy Glennon and Jason Flynn (free) weren’t enough to deny the Déise.
Like a freight train, Galway started this game as they finished the quarter-final win over Wexford. They were beating Waterford on Stephen O’Keeffe’s puck-out and led by 0-5 to 0-1 after just four minutes, Glennon picking off two points.
By the 20th minute, Waterford had settled to close the gap to three points and were finding their men. A minute later, Shane Bennett had a shot saved and Thomas Ryan sent the rebound wide.
A Mikey Kearney point cut the deficit to two although it threatened to be much more in the following three minutes as Stephen O’Keeffe made two fine saves from Kevin Hussey and Joe Canning.
Three Galway scores re-established their dominance before a long range Stephen Bennett free found the net as Shane Bennett did enough to distract Fergal Flannery. The older brother pointed his third free of the game but Canning’s third made the difference two at the interval, 0-12 to 1-7.
Stephen Bennett (1-7, 0-6 frees); J. Barron, Pauric Mahony (0-2 each); M. Kearney, J, Prendergast, A. Gleeson, T. Ryan, P. Hogan, C. Lyons, Pauric Mahony (0-1 each).
J. Canning (0-7, 5 frees); C. Mannion (0-4); D. Glennon (0-3); B. Concannon, K. Hussey, J. Coen, C. Whelan, J. Flynn (free) (0-1 each).
S. O’Keeffe; S. Mc Nulty, C. Lyons, N. Connors (c); Philip Mahony, T de Búrca, K. Moran; J. Barron, C. Dunford; A. Gleeson, M. Kearney, Pauric Mahony; T. Ryan, Stephen Bennett, Shane Bennett.
J. Prendergast for C. Dunford (h-t); P. Hogan for T. Ryan (51); C, Roche for T. de Búrca (63); D.J. Foran for A. Gleeson (70+1).
M. Kearney (55, second yellow).
F. Flannery; R. Burke, G. McInerney, D. Morrissey; P. Killeen, P. Mannion (c), A. Harte; C. Mannion, J. Coen; K. Hussey, C. Whelan, J. Canning; D. Glennon, B. Concannon, N. Burke.
S. Loftus for D. Morrissey (inj 45); J. Flynn for N. Burke (56); T. Haran for J. Coen (69); J. Mannion for J. Canning (inj 70+3); J. Hanbury for P. Killeen (70+8).
P. O’Dwyer (Carlow).