By Eoghan Cormican, Thurles
Waterford 5-15 Galway 0-14
A powerful first-half showing delivered Waterford a first All-Ireland U21 hurling title since 1992.
The favourites were never led in this one-sided final, with all six starting forwards finding the target over the hour.
Stephen Bennett was, arguably, the most impressive of the Déise contributors, fashioning two fantastic goals in front of 14,410 crowd.
It was as good as game over at the break with Waterford holding a commanding 13-point lead.
The first of Waterford’s goals arrived with just 40 seconds on the clock, DJ Foran running onto a long ball and beating ‘keeper Cathal Tuohy with a powerful strike.
Three points from Brian Molloy (two frees) either side of two Patrick Curran white flags eased Galway nerves after the setback of Foran’s goal but they then suffered a second blow as Patrick Curran batted to the net on 12 minutes.
Curran’s green flag was part of an unanswered 2-3 burst from the favourites, Stephen Bennett rattling the Galway after a superb handpass from Curran.
Galway, who had opted for an orthodox formation from the throw-in, put in place a sweeper following the concession of goal number three. And but for a fine Cathal Tuohy save on 24 minutes, Tom Devine would have had goal number four.
Galway started the second-half extremely brightly with Séan Linnane (0-2), Molloy, Whelan and Éanna Burke hitting five on the bounce to leave them 3-10 to 0-11 in arrears.
No closer would they come, though. Stephen Bennett played a beautiful low ball across the square which his brother, Shane, flicked home for Waterford’s fourth.
Stephen Bennett rounded off the win with a superb fifth, catching Austin Gleeson’s sideline cut before firing the sliotar to the roof of Cathal Tuohy’s net.
Scorers for Waterford: P Curran (1-9, 0-6 frees); Stephen Bennett (2-0); S Bennett (1-1); A Gleeson (0-1 free,) M Kearney (0-2 each); T Devine (0-1).
Scorers for Galway: B Molloy (0-6, 0-3 frees); É Burke (0-3); S Linnane, C Whelan (0-2 each); K McHugo (0-1).
Waterford: J Hanley; W Hahessy, C Gleeson, D Lyons; M Harney, A Gleeson, C Prunty; M O’Brien, Shane Bennett; C Roche, T Devine, DJ Foran; M Kearney, Stephen Bennett, P Curran.
Subs: A Farrell for Devine (56); D Ryan for Lyons (57); B O’Keeffe for Harney (58); P Hogan for Shane Bennett (60); B Whelan for Hahessy (60).
Galway: C Tuohy; C Jennings, D O’Donoghue, D Cronin; V Doyle, S Cooney, S Loftus; D Nevin, D Dolan; K McHugo, B Molloy, S Linnane; T Monaghan, C Whelan, É Burke.
Subs: E Brannigan for Monaghan (HT); J Grealish for McHugo (42); A Morrissey for Linnane (46-49, bs); C Burke for Linnane (58); A Morrissey for Dolan (60).
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).