Waterford displayed determination aplenty, but they just didn’t have the all-round ability to bring off a surprise result, and in the end the 11-point margin mirrored the difference in class between the sides.
Kerry, backed by a very strong breeze, totally dominated the opening half and weren’t at all flattered by their 1-7 to no score lead at the interval. They had a tonic start when corner-forward Conor Keane fisted their only goal in the second minute after a woeful defensive mix up, but after that, they wasted numerous scoring opportunities.
They had kicked half a dozen wides inside the opening 10 minutes, although an exception was centre-forward Jack Savage, who landed four quality points as Waterford struggled to even get out of their own half.
Kerins O’Rahillys clubman Savage stood head and shoulders over everyone as he led that Kingdom attack in regal style, while just behind him midfielder Kieran Murphy was equally influential.
Despite the magnitude of their task facing into the second half, Waterford, to their credit, set about getting back into the game in a very determined style. Reward came early as the outstanding Ryan Donnelly finally opened their account from a 37th minute free and that was followed almost immediately by another from play by an industrious Michael Curry.
In the 40th minute their goal came when Donnelly expertly converted a penalty after a foul on Laurence Houlihan and the gap had been narrowed to half a dozen points.
But with their supremacy under threat Kerry upped the ante and five unanswered points in the closing nine minutes sealed their deserved win.
Scorers for Kerry: J. Savage (0-6); C. Keane (1-1); K. Murphy (0-3); N. Sheehy (0-2, 0-1 free); K. McCarthy, D. Daly (0-1) each.
Scorers for Waterford: D. Donnelly (1-1, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free); M. Curry, L. Houlihan (0-1) each.
KERRY: G. Curran (Dingle); C. O’Luing (An Ghaetacht), G. Crowley (Templenoe). S. O’Connor (John Mitchels); B. Crowley (Templenoe). R. Murphy (Beaufort). J. Barry (Na Gaeil); E. O’Conchuir (An Ghaeltacht). K. Murphy (Kilcummin); N. Sheehy (John Mitchels). J. Savage (Kerins O’Rahillys). C. Fitzgerald (Churchill); K. McCarthy (Kilcummin). D. Daly (St. Mary’s). C. Keane (Legion).
Subs: A. Spillane (Templenoe) for Fitzgerald (26); G. O’Shea (Dr Crokes) for McCarthy (H.T.); S. Moloney (John Mitchels) for Barry (H.T.); G. Horan (Austin Stacks) for O’Luing (33); A. Barry (Brosna) for Sheehy (57).
WATERFORD: A. Kirwan (Stradbally); C. Burke (Tramore). J. O’Donnell (Brickey Rangers). B. Looby (Ballinacourty); S. O’Donovan (Modeligo), T. Burke (Clashmore), J. Barron (An Ghaeltacht); T. Devine (St Patrick’s), M. Kiely (St Patrick's); A. O’Donoghue (Gaultier), M. Curry (Rathgormack), P. O’Connor (Clashmore); C. Gleeson (Nire), L. Houlihan (Brickey Rangers), R. Donnelly (Dungarvan).
Subs: S. Halley (St Olivers) for C. Burke(40); M. Casey (Clanna Gael) for O’Donoghue(48); M. Troy (St Patrick’s) for Houlihan(54); D. Scanlon (Clashmore) for Kiely(58).
Referee: Kevin Murphy, Cork.