3,780 were in Walsh Park for the tie and few were left disappointed after an absorbing battle.
Waterford manager Liam O’Connor was thrilled with the showing after the heartbreak of losing to Clare in the Munster championship final.
He said: “We showed our true mettle when Kilkenny came back at us on the resumption. Of course I was worried when they narrowed the deficit to just three points, but then our fellows revealed their true worth and pulled away.”
O’Connor said they had upped their Munster final display “several notches’’ and is now relishing a clash with the Leinster champions. “We’ll treat Dublin with the respect they deserve as Leinster champions in the semi-final, but we don’t and won’t fear them or anyone else.
Though Kilkenny jumped into a first-minute lead through a Kevin Kelly pointed free that was the only time they were ahead. A brace of quality points by the excellent Donal Breathnach had the hosts in front by the 11th minute, and with Jamie Barron inspirational at right half back, Waterford began to assert their authority.
The winners eased into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead on the quarter hour after scores from Jake Dillon (free), Cathal Curran and midfielder Ray Barry. Kilkenny managed a mini revival with a brace of Kevin Kelly frees and a Peter Vickery effort to leave them one adrift by the 19th minute.
Sensing danger, Waterford upped the gears with Barron and Jim Power leading by example from the wing back berths.
Two pointed frees by Jake Dillon, augmented by two efforts from play by Breathnach and the irrepressible Gavin O’Brien, had them 0-9 to 0-5 in front at the interval.
Kilkenny centre-back Eoin McGrath landed an outstanding point inside a minute followed quickly by a Vickery effort. But again Waterford quelled the fightback with four rapid fire points in as many minutes by Dillon (2), Barry, and a Breathnach to edge 0-14 to 0-7 clear.
Ray Barry was continuing to dominate midfield, and up front Breathnach, O’Brien, and Cathal Curran kept the Kilkenny defence at full stretch despite the best efforts of Eoin McGrath and Jack McDowell. The Cats were restricted to just two points in the final quarter as Waterford advance to an All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin.
Scorers for Waterford: J Dillon (0-5, frees); D Breathnach (0-4); G O’Brien (0-3); R Barry (0-2); C Curran (0-1).
Scorers for Kilkenny: K Kelly (0-4, frees); P Vickery (0-2); E. McGrath, P Kenneally, C Bolger (0-1) each.
WATERFORD: S Forristal; I. Kenny. D. Ahern. C. Walsh; J. Barron. D. Foley. J.
Power; S. McNulty. R. Barry; J. Dillon. P. O’Keeffe. G. O’Brien; D.
Breathnach. S. Bennett. C. Curran.
Subs: M. Harney for O’Keeffe (55); C. Chester for Bennett (57); C. Dunford for Dillon (60).
KILKENNY: A. Duggan; C. Doyle. J. McDowell. E. Moriarty; J. McGrath. E. McGrath. D. Kearns; R. Reid. J. Maher; T. O’Hanrahan. K. Kelly. C. Bolger; D. Cody. C. Martin. P. Vickery.
Subs: J. Hayes for Kearns (ht); P. Kenneally for Martin (36); E. Bergin for O’Hanrahan (50); M. Mansfield for Reid (55).
Referee: Colm Lyons, Cork.