They were cruelly denied victory with a brace of points scored in injury-time, the decisive match-winner coming from a close-in free.
The opening sequences were totally Tipp-dominated, and when they raced into a six-point lead inside 13 minutes. Waterford looked to be facing a right old drubbing. Tipp's lone goal came as early as the second minute from their scorer in chief, David Byrne, and as Waterford struggled to get themselves into contention, they had to wait a quarter-of-an-hour to register on the scoreboard with a fine point from midfielder Karl O'Keeffe.
That O'Keeffe score, however, seemed to inject new life into his side and they gradually began to enjoy more and more territorial possession. The scores were slow in coming, however, but they were right back in contention when full-forward Gary Hurney, the game's outstanding player, scored the first of his two goals in injury-time and Waterford went in at the interval break just two points adrift, 1-4 to 1-2.
Waterford had used the ploy of playing corner-forward John Hearne as a third midfielder in that opening half, but it didn't work and the side reverted to a regular formation with better effect on the turnover. Scores remained difficult to come by, however, with both defences pretty well in control, and it was Tipp who drew first blood in that second half when Hickey found the range from another free in the 39th minute.
Ten scoreless minutes followed with both sides, more particularly Waterford, squandering some gilt-edged chances, but Hurney's second goal in the 49th minute was worth the admission price alone. Five players were involved in a sweeping movement that began deep in Waterford's own defence, and Hurney's finish was clinical as he rattled home the goal that brought the sides level.
Within three minutes, he was at it again, this time lofting over a quality point that gave his side the lead for the first time.
An exchange of points between Patrick Hally and Hurney still kept Waterford in the driving seat, but just when it looked that the visitors would hold out for victory Tipp's increasing pressure brought its reward with a fine equaliser from play by effective substitute Fergal O'Callaghan, and that last gasp Benny Hickey winner from a free that was hotly contested by clearly exasperated Deise defenders.
Scorers for Tipperary; D. Byrne(1-2); B. Hickey(0-3, frees); A. Fitzgerald, P. Hally, F. O'Callaghan(-01) each.
Waterford; G. Hurney(2-2); K. O'Keeffe()-1), M. Power(0-1, free).
Tipperary; B. Enright; B. Hahessy. N. Kelly. D. Byrne; S. Maher. D. Fanning. N. Fitzgerald; A. Fitzgerald. L. England; T. Doyle. E. Hanrahan. P. Hally; J. P. Looby. B. Hickey. D. Byrne; Subs; F. O'Callaghan for Looby; N. Sheehan for England; P. Lambertfor Hahessy.
Waterford; P. Houlihan; J. Sheehan. G. Hayes. J. O'Reilly; E. Rockett. A. Hubbard. R. Hennessy; W. Hennessy. K. O'Keeffe; M. Walsh. J. Coffey. M. Power; J. Hearne. G. Hurney. S. Walsh; Sub; J. Hennessy for Power.
Referee; G. Hough, Limerick.