A decade ago the Kingdom brought off a championship sensation by defeating Waterford on their home patch but from an early stage yesterday the gulf in class was obvious.
The majority home support in a 7,000 attendance was able to relax as the champions easily sealed a June 1 semi-final date with Limerick.
To Kerry’s credit, they battled admirably throughout despite the inevitability of the outcome.
However, their bravery was no match for the superior class of the Déise, for whom Ken McGrath in attack and Fergal Hartley in defence were inspirational.
The Kerry cause wasn’t helped when Waterford won the toss and elected to play with the strong wind. It didn’t take them long to capitalise.
James McCarthy simply couldn’t cope with McGrath’s power and potency, and six first-half points from play mirrored the enormity of his impact.
Kerry had to wait all of 14 minutes to register on the scoreboard and it was fitting that corner-forward Shane Brick should be the one to do so.
Brick shone like a beacon and it was rough justice that after the kind of virtuoso display he turned in over the 70 minutes he should end up on the losing side.
Waterford, however, continued to find the range from play and frees, with Dave Bennett unerring in his conversion of placed balls.
Goalkeeper John Healy, another Kerry hero, denied Paul Flynn with the first of many super saves on 18 minutes and two minutes later Flynn was again denied, this time by an upright.
One sensed Waterford’s most prolific scorer wouldn’t continue to be denied and his 23rd minute rocket from close range gave Healy no chance.
That stretched the lead to 13 points.
They were given a glimmer of hope when John Mike Dooley rattled the net in fine style two minutes later but Waterford finished the half with another flurry of points, including one by Seamas Prendergast that could so easily have been a goal, and they retired at the break a commanding 1-16 to 1-2 to the good.
If Kerry were to have any chance of making a game of it, early scores were needed on the restart and they had two points on the board inside 30 seconds from Michael Slattery and a superb one from Brick.
Briefly they took the game to Waterford, with Brick providing most of the inspiration.
However, he lacked support in an attack that often floundered in the face of Hartley’s brilliance and Kerry had Healy to thank when he managed to deflect a 49th-minute piledriver round the post for a 65, which Bennett converted.
There were several more heroics to come from Healey as he denied Waterford further goals, but he had no chance when Flynn beat him from close range four minutes from time.
Brick continued to shore up Kerry morale with further points from frees and play, but it was Waterford who finished as they had started with scores from substitute Dan Shanahan (one of the best of the game) and a brace from Bennett frees.
A solid rather than spectacular opening defence of their title then by Waterford.
And while Kerry can take little comfort from a defeat as heavy as this, they will at least be encouraged at having a few quality players around which to build for the future.
Waterford; D. Bennett (0-10, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ); P. Flynn (2-2); K. McGrath (0-7); A. Moloney (0-2); E. Kelly (0-2); T. Browne, S. Prendergast, D. Shanahan(0-1) each.
Kerry; S. Brick (0-8, 0-3 frees); J. M. Dooley (1-0); M. Slattery, O. O’Connell, B. Brick, L. Boyle (0-1) each.
WATERFORD; S. Brenner; B. Greene. T. Feeney. B. Flannery; D. Prendergast. F. Hartley. J. Murray; T. Browne. P. Queally; E. Kelly. K. McGrath. D. Bennett; S. Prendergast. A. Moloney. P. Flynn; Subs; E. McGrath for Greene; A. Kirwan for Flannery; D. Shanahan for Moloney; M. Walshfor Browne.
KERRY: J. Healy; H. F. Twomey. M. Lucid. I. Brick; W. J. Leen. J. McCarthy. K. O’Sullivan; C. Flaherty. A. Cronin; M. Slattery. B. Brick. P. O’Connell; S. Brick. G. O’Brien. J. M. Dooley
Subs; P. Cronin for Leen; L. Boylefor O’Sullivan; C. Harris for McCarthy; M. Conway for O’Connell; M. Murnane for O’Brien.
Referee; Pat Ahern, Carlow.