Waterford are through to the All-Ireland minor hurling final for the first time since 1992 after a gutsy display at Croke Park.
Austin Gleeson was a heroic figure for the Munster finalists in the half-back line, while Mark O’Brioen and Stephen Bennett were hugely influential up front.
Adam Farrell and DJ Foran scored first half goals that gave them a half-time lead despite not being at their best, while Patrick Curran was deadly accurate for the Waterford boys, totting up seven points, eight of which came from placed balls.
That wasn’t enough to make him top scorer mind you, as Alan Murphy hit the target with 10 frees for Kilkenny.
Both sides finished with 14 men, as Waterford’s Shane Bennett received a second yellow card in the 50th minute.
Crucially, Seán Power’s charges managed to hold firm in the ensuing five minutes before Eoin Kenny suffered a similar fate to the Ballysaggart defender.
Waterford started nervously and Kilkenny capitalised with two early points from Kevin Kenny and a Murphy free.
Curran settled his side with a score from a placed ball before Adam Farrell gave the Déise the boost of an eighth minute goal. Farrell doubled to the net from close range after Stephen Bennett had done brilliantly to first win possession just to the left of the square and then then hand-passing across the parallelogram.
Some indiscipline in defence made it too easy for Kilkenny to wipe that major out and it was a factor in keeping the Cats in contention throughout, as all Murphy’s 10 points came from frees.
Still, a brilliant goal by DJ Foran in the 15th minute – his thunderous shot from 18m flew into the top corner – ensured that Waterford held the lead at half time, 2-5 to 0-9.
And though they squandered numerous opportunities to kill off the Noresiders in the second half, they retained the upper hand throughout the latter period.
A magnificent point by Gleeson was the start of a three-point flurry that stretch the margin to four by the end of the third quarter but Murphy landed two frees to half the deficit.
That was as close as Kilkenny got though, despite that five-minute numerical advantage.
Scorers – Waterford: P Curran 0-7(5fs, 1 65); DJ Foran 1-1; A Farrell 1-0; M Harney, M O’Brien, Stephen Bennett, M Kearney 0-1 each
Kilkenny: A Murphy 0-10(fs); L Blanchfield, J Walsh 0-2 each; K Kenny, N Mullins 0-1 each
Waterford: G Power, C Leamy, K Daly, W Hahessy, M Harney, A Gleeson, Shane Bennett, M O’Brien, T Devine, Stephen Bennett, C Roche, DJ Foran; P Curran, A Farrell, M Kearney. Subs: C Gleeson for Foran (10-12), MJ Sutton for Shane Bennett (25-26), C Curran for Roche (41), C Gleeson for Farrell (52); S Hogan for Foran (60+1)
Kilkenny: D Brennan, C Wallace, E Cody, D Joyce, J Stanley, J Maher, C Delaney, N Mullins, C Ryan, L Blanchfield, E Kenny, V Teehan, A Murphy, K Kenny, J Walsh. Subs: M Kenny for Blanchfield (8-12), M Kenny for Mullins (36), L Scanlon for Ryan (45)
Referee: S Hourigan (Limerick)